According to Aria Finger, CEO of DoSomething.org and Bobby Jones, author of Good is the New Cool, the way to connect with the younger generation is on a human level. If you’re like me, you must be thinking, sounds great, but how do I do that?
Both of these leaders shared their insights on connecting with Gen Z at the 2016 PSFK conference, which has been listed as one of AdWeek’s “7 Emerging Conferences Every Advertising Professional Should Know About.”
Here are the 3 key insights brands should know about to engage the next generation in a humanistic and compelling way.
1. They’re concerned citizens.
Bobby Jones shared that Gen Z are not only the folks who want first dibs on the newest and coolest things, but they are also the next wave of concerned citizens. They are aware of injustice around the world, and they want to do something about it.
Aria Finger shared that DoSomething’s consulting group, TMI Strategy, discovered something similar. One key issue that resonates with Gen Z is that they care about fairness, they want everyone to have an equal level playing field regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status or background. This is why they are even more eager to act and get involved with the national and global politics.
2. They want honesty.
Finger says “be honest”- young people far more attuned to deception than older generations. They can spot an inauthentic purpose-driven marketing push within moments, and you can lose their loyalty and attention just as fast. They also respect honesty over perfection, so if you do mess up, just apologize. What they want to see is your brand’s goals, what you’ve already accomplished and what you’re committing to so they can better assess whether they’re joining your cause.
They are not only paying attention to brands’ activities, they are also paying close attention to what the leaders of pop culture are saying and doing — the influencers, cool kids and celebs. Have you noticed that many Instagram influencers now openly indicate their social issue alignment, political perspective and are transparent about being sponsored? They know that this generation does not like being fooled and want to know where you stand.
3. Their needs should matter.
Jones shared that in order for marketers to truly succeed in connecting with Gen Z, they must position their brand to relate to this generation’s values and concerns as “citizens,” not just “consumers.” This point was further emphasized by Finger in her second pro-tip: brands should “fight for their users.” Instead of spending time thinking about what you need your consumers to do, think about what they need and want from you. Some questions to explore are “how will this benefit the user?” “what will benefit the user?” and “what does my user care about?”
So there you have it folks. Go forth and humanize the digital experience by being honest, treating Gen Z as concerned citizens and aligning your brand with their needs and values.