To reach Asia’s Digital Native gen Z, brands need to understand them first
As a millennial in Asia Pacific, it’s hard to overlook the rising force in Asian consumer dynamics — Generation Z. This digital native, mobile-first generation, born between 1996 and 2012, will make up a quarter of Asia’s population by 2025. Worldwide, 32% of the globe’s consumers are already Gen Zs, so we’re paying close attention.
We’ve studied GenZs on our work with Ikea, Estee Lauder and Peroni, and we discovered that while the group have some qualities in common with millennials (a preference for personalisation, for instance), they’re more global, more socially conscious — and more video orientated.
1. Digital natives with their hearts in the right place
Much has been written about this group’s online habits — a third spend six hours or more a day on their phones. Gen Zs also spend more time on social media than do any other cohort in Asia, they are more likely to follow their favourite brands, and more likely to use video-based platforms when making purchase decisions.
Gen Zs have their redeeming qualities too — they are pragmatic, and frugal. 88% say it’s important to start saving for their future now. 85% wish there was more education around financial literacy. This ties in with their recession-ready work ethic. Many Gen Zs between the ages of 17 and 23 are already employed in full or part-time jobs or as freelancers. A DIY-culture and access to crowdsourcing are shaping Gen Zs for work in unprecedented economic environments.
2. Video for results — Yes, TikTok and Twitch are serious marketing
While we millennials stumbled from MySpace and Tumblr to Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter, Gen Z have a definite preference for video-based platforms like Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat, TikTok and Twitch.
A few years ago, crafting a TikTok marketing strategy was an unlikely proposition. Today it’s the fastest-growing, most democratised social platform in the world, creating new influencers every minute. Luxury brands Calvin Klein and Ralph Lauren were early adopters. Luxury labels Burberry, Gucci, Prada, Celine, Alice + Olivia, Dolce & Gabbana, Tory Burch, and Missoni have followed suit, building presence with varying levels of success. Among beauty brands, we recommend checking out Fenty, Elf Cosmetics, and Sephora for new approaches on aligning brand stories with TikTok’s unique culture and format.
Live streaming and gaming platform Twitch meanwhile stands out for its 80% male user base (in contrast to Instagram and TikTok’s female-oriented audience). Twitch is defined by its close knit communities and strict tribe code, reinforcing Gen Z preference for trust and authenticity. It’s worth noting that even as early as 2018, Twitch was outstripping MSNBC and CNN in peak concurrent viewership. In November 2019, League of Legends Worlds on Twitch generated a new record with 1.7 million concurrent viewers.
FC, EA, Gillette, Red Bull, Nike and Adidas are all using Twitch for sponsored events, broadcasts and livestreams. But as with most social media, authentic relationships with followers are key to streamer success.
3. Experiment, and collaborate — Creative content minus the risk
A great approach for brands wary of content creation on an unfamiliar platforms is relying on influencers to create the buzz for them. Earlier this year, we saw Prada invite teen influencer Charli D’Amelio to their Fall 2020 show to capture content for her followers. Her top performing post for Prada racked up 8 million likes. Interestingly, Prada does have a TikTok account, with 142,000 followers so far, but the brand haven’t been quick to post. It makes sense to let influencers take the lead, giving brands the opportunity to win approval and social cache before diving in.
With millions of users and a platform designed around algorithmic discovery, brands stand a very good chance of building supportive online communities. However, it’s critical to first research and understand what works on TikTok and Twitch. Unlike television, these are platforms where users have grown up avoiding conventional advertising (with a few caveats). Brands need to be able to blend in and demonstrate tribe values to fit in and succeed.
4. Micro-influencing and co-creation — Experiences they can own
So we’re stepping away from mass marketing to influencing, and then still further to micro-influencing. Gen Zs, more than their predecessors, are embracing individual differences, demanding transparency and inclusion. And that’s where micro-influencers come in. Micro-influencers have specific niche audiences with deeply engaged followers. Brands looking to optimise their marketing spend are better off hiring micro-influencers, or a combination of micro-influencers and celebrity influencers to improve campaign ROI.
This need to control their experience extends to Gen Z product expectations. An IBM study revealed that given the opportunity, 44% of Gen Z said that they would like to submit ideas for product design, 43% would like to participate in product reviews. Brands can convert Gen Z consumers into enthusiasts by creating authentic opportunities for contribution and participation.
5. They Call B.S. — Be sincere, be responsible or face consequences
It’s come up time and again, Gen Z value sincerity. Having grown up in the era of fake news, Gen Z dissect the motives of large brands and expect social responsibility. Real people, real posts and authentic experiences — this is what Gen Z expect from their brands. In line with their inclusive, social credentials, Gen Zs support brands that support the issues that matter the most to young people today.
For brands that find a way to stay authentic, maturing Gen Zs make loyal customers. Research indicates that Gen Z are slow to engage, but once they find a brand they like, they continue to buy for a long time, and are happy to be associated with it. Examples abound. From small brands championing gender equality to big brands like Patagonia, who have built an active community of advocates championing brand values and products on social.
Final word — Not defined by devices
Gen Z may have been born digital natives, but as a generation they’re not homogenous. This is a group of young people pushing for inclusion and authenticity; from each other, and also from their brands and organisations. Embrace video, be sincere, and align with their cause — you’ll find advocates lining up to work with you, and happy end-customers.
Up Next : How tech-savvy toddlers are shaping purchasing decisions of the future
If you’ve given up on figuring out Gen Z and millennials, it’s time to skip ahead. Alphas — the children of millennials — are already guiding many of the purchasing decisions within their families. In a July study called “Understanding Generation Alpha,” OnePoll surveyed 8,000 millennial parents across the world with children between 4 and 9 years old, 65% of these parents said their children influenced their last purchase. That number went up to 81% in the US. 27% of parents said they asked their kids’ opinions before buying a new TV, laptop, tablet or phone. See our forthcoming report on Alphas for interesting insights on this booming demographic.