Gen Z refers to anyone who was born between 1997 and 2012. The oldest of this generation are now young adults in their early 20s, who are coming of age and entering the business world.
They are the first generation of true Digital Natives. They’ve never known a time when ordering takeout online, sending WhatsApp messages to a friend or FaceTiming their family wasn’t possible. They are the first generation that is active and available for almost 24 hours a day.
Gen Z and Social Commerce
Gen Z’s use of devices continues to increase. Recent data revealed that 98% of them own a smartphone and that in the third quarter of last year, they averaged more than 4 hours a day on apps — and that figure doesn’t include gaming time.
Their platform usage habits have, however, shifted slightly. Gen Z has moved beyond the e-commerce favored by millennials and has become at home with social commerce — the practice of purchasing wholly within a social media platform. And for good reason: the algorithm can learn their preferences to suggest relevant recommendations, provide a personalized shopping experience (which also reduces the risk of abandoned carts), reduce the friction between purchase desire and checkout, and is more engaging with the use of in-app filters, augmented reality features and live streams.
The majority (97%) of Gen Z consumers say they now use social media as their top source of shopping inspiration; 65% say they use social media to find entertaining content; and 61% of them are specifically interested in watching more video content. Brands that want to capture this audience’s attention need to prioritize authentic, organic content rather than the more polished output they became accustomed to producing for millennials.
Social commerce platforms for Gen Z include Instagram, TikTok and Pinterest. In fact, the hashtag #tiktokmademebuyit has upwards of 2.3 billion views on TikTok, and #amazonfinds has more than 6.7 billion views. According to one Gen Z report, nearly 30% of this group say an easy checkout process is important to them in making a purchase. Brands need to consider a more seamless experience — from discovery to checkout — by minimizing distractions and being careful to avoid directing consumers away from the page. It’s important to develop strategies that prioritize enabling consumers to move through the funnel with as little friction as possible.
Anticipating this upcoming shift in the market, the big platforms have already evolved to ensure purchases are not only frictionless but also safe and reliable. Instagram swipe-ups that take you directly to the product are nothing new. However, Instagram’s “shopping” tab — which can be found in the main navigation and was released in November 2020 — allows for more brand visibility, which means the ability to promote their products and services to a wider audience. Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest have also all recently announced or expanded their Shopify partnerships — a platform ensuring fast, secure payments that doesn’t require users’ financial information.
Gen Z and Influencers
Gen Z shows strong interest in accounts that align with their interests — or that introduce them to new ones. Understanding their unique social media engagement requires identifying their primary interests.
Brands should listen to this vocal audience. While Gen Z is quick to support brands that spotlight them as individuals, their altruistic and eco-conscious views shine through too. Environmental concerns are quickly rising: 79% of Gen Z across 18 countries responded that companies behaving more sustainably is even more important to them since the Covid-19 outbreak, and there was a strong desire to “build back better” after 2020.
More broadly, content creators are consistently featured in Gen Z’s social media feeds, especially those specializing in gaming. Compared to the average internet user, Gen Z are more likely to follow gaming personalities online.
Adding gamification elements to your content (the use of game elements in a non-game context) is a great way to keep Gen Z interacting with your brand. It’s also a very flexible element in your marketing arsenal, as it can help you hit multiple engagement, awareness and conversion objectives. Gamification can range from advergames (games custom-built specifically to showcase your brand in an interactive game environment) on web landing pages, branded minigames on platforms like Snapchat or bitesize in-app rewards. You could encourage users to continue using your platform by offering progress reports in a fun way — for example, logging 100 hours on your mindfulness app unlocks something new. Gamification elements could also include engaging trivia quizzes, polls or Q&A sessions on your social feeds. The options are almost limitless and can be scaled according to your budget.
None of this means that branded content should take a backseat — over a third of Gen Z follow brands they like, while around 1 in 4 follow those they’re considering purchasing from. The one thing they will never be is unquestioningly loyal — Gen Z are “22% more likely to say they’ve stopped following a brand online in the past month.” This is why brands must always prioritize authentic, high-quality, innovative content strategies to retain Gen Z’s favor. This is often termed an “infotainment” strategy — a finely tuned balance of informative output that addresses Gen Z’s egalitarian, environmentally conscious nature and fun escapism that drove them to social media in the first place.
Gen Z’s expectations, combined with their pronounced dislike for disruptive traditional advertising — will fundamentally change the world of marketing. Influencer marketing is an effective strategy to build your brand and, along with it, brand sentiment. With up-and-coming Gen Z on your side, the long-term potential for your brand is massive.
Original article: Forbes