Snackable content, according to Meg Cannistra of Ceros, is comprised of three key characteristics: It’s eye-catching, it’s short and it’s easy to follow. As such, snackable content has always been an important part of marketing, and it is something that tends to work with every generation in one way or another. But for Gen Z, it is the way to go if brands hope to get past the generation’s eight-second filter.
With so many media channels, Gen Zers are bombarded with marketing messages every minute of the day. No human, let alone a member of youth, has the time or the patience to process everything, so to cut through the clutter, information must be direct, quick and simple – aka snackable, or as we like to say, “bite-sized.”
Remember the KISS principle, after all? But don’t confuse simple with easy. It takes a lot of work to boil things down to their simplest, but most effective, elements. Most would agree that it’s a lot easier to explain a point in 500 characters rather than 140 or in 30 seconds versus 10. And while preference for mobile is one thing among this generation, attention span is an entirely different challenge to tackle. Pivotals are distracted and often lack the time, and as mentioned, the tolerance to absorb any sort of long-form communication.
But mobile is a path in the right direction. It not only makes it easy to consume small bites of content but also gives members of Gen Z the freedom to consume it on their time. And their attention time is a finely tuned filter to sort and digest information at lightning-fast speeds. When using mobile to market to Gen Z, marketers must think “light snacks” in lieu of “steak dinner.” Anything heavy to digest will be a no-go.
One entertainment brand that has mastered this is Tasty. Known as Buzzfeed’s food brand, Tasty creates the ultimate snackable content (no pun intended) with its series of shareable, minute-long cooking videos. These videos are captivating and snappy, leaving little room for boredom or confusion. Notorious for time-lapse editing and high-quality footage of on-trend recipes, it’s the perfect treat for the Gen Z foodie. The proof is in the numbers, with Tasty garnering 500 million people a month to their channel, with a total of nearly 1.8 billion views.
How can your brand make itself Gen Z ready through snackable content?
Want more on Gen Z? Get your copy of Jeff Fromm & Angie Read’s new book, Marketing to Gen Z, here!
Teenagers today are overwhelmingly more accepting of differences and are quick to eliminate those brands that do not foster an inclusive community. Similar to how participation defined the Millennial generation (and still does), acceptance is quickly becoming the overarching motivation for the market and consumer behavior of Pivotals.
As a result, there is no expectation to be perfect. Rather than degrading others for their differences, teens today are more accepting of natural beauty and do not adhere to traditional images of perfection.
While the market overall is also trending toward more “real” advertising, younger generations are leading when it comes to elevated expectations of brands to reflect a more realistic portrayal of life. However, that is not to say teenagers have completely outlawed the aspirational images from their news feeds.
The top followed account of 2016 was Selena Gomez with 103 million followers. But, we are even starting to see a transformation within the celebrity community that is embracing a more real approach to beauty. While still participating in the glitz and glam that comes with the celebrity life, many stars are also sharing makeup-free selfies and celebrating their natural beauty before dolling up for the cameras.
This is an entirely new social norm that no other generation experienced growing up. For the past 100 years, celebrities were the gold standard of perfection. That notion is being reconstructed with this generation as they are invited to see the real side of celebrity through social media.
But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves.
Image still matters to Pivotals. When asked how they want others to view them, nearly one third of teens told us they would rather be considered unique than real. This is a major pivot away from the Millennial generation and one of the biggest differences between the two generations. This also proves that unlike Millennials, teens have different expectations of brands than they do of themselves.
Largely because of social media, the context in which Pivotals are forming their identities is entirely different than what existed for previous generations. Remember, these teens are still in high school and with that life stage comes a significant amount of pressure to present a certain image — and today that image is more public than it has ever been in the past. The tension between wanting to be unique but expecting reality from brands further emphasizes the duality this generation balances on a daily basis.
Brand getting it right
Axe is the perfect example of a brand that has completely captured this mindset. For years, the Axe brand capitalized on perfectly formed models and the tagline “Axe e ect,” which described the way women would throw themselves onto any man who used Axe products. In 2016, Axe dumped its stereotypical advertising campaign for one that is more re ective of today’s youth. The “Find Your Magic” campaign rst aired in the 2016 Super Bowl with a TV spot featuring the opening tagline, “Who needs that six pack when you’ve got the nose?” The shot opened to show a close-up of a young man with an exceptionally large nose. Instead of pushing him aside or changing him, the campaign embraced his uniqueness and continued to feature other real men, e ectively encouraging young men to nd their own magic.
To be successful, brands will need to implement programs and campaigns that embrace di erences and remove the branding or logo from the feature spot. The goal must be to enhance the personal image of the consumer, not the brand, and allow them to manipulate the product or service to create whatever unique image they want to present.
To get the full scope on Gen Z, The Pivotal Generation, be sure to download the full report now!
For the past 40-plus years, the great brands of yesterday were focused on creative excellence. They sought to craft the perfect message and then pushed it out via various shotgun methodologies, hoping to build brand awareness and regard for their products. That, by itself, no longer works. While it’s still mandatory to build awareness and regard, these two tenets alone will not translate into extraordinary or sustainable financial performance for brands. Content is now about engagement and discovery, not interruption advertising.
This is particularly true as we consider the newest generation on the scene, the pivotal Gen Z. While all generations are active on at least one of today’s many social platforms, teens are by far the most voracious and complex in their use of social media. Our research found that Gen Z leads when it comes to usage of YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Tumblr, Kik, Periscope and even Tinder. And, according to the #Being13 study conducted by CNN, there are a large percentage of 13-year-olds who check their social accounts upwards of 100 times per day. As a result, they are viewing and consuming content at an astronomical rate, which in turn has led them to want to cut out the “noise” that they often identify as coming from brands.
How do brands combat this and ensure that they are still heard?
Jake Katz, vice president of audience insights and strategy for youth content platform REVOLT TV, believes it boils down to three key insights.
Speed is currency
“Over-thought creative processes, rounds of copy approval and an obsession with “but, are we on brand?” is what has stunted the marketing community from really being able to do digital the right way,” he says. “If you’re not real-time, you’re not relevant.”
New media is not so new anymore
“We are, as humans, beyond the period of enlightenment and in a post-modern state of content consumption,” Katz explains. “The average consumer has many social media platforms that they check constantly, and each of them serves a different purpose – from self-expression to aspiration to connection. A brand’s content distribution strategy is as king as the content itself. The medium is still the message, and, now more than ever, defining what media outlets make sense for your category is incredibly important in content marketing.”
Relevance can no longer be bought
“While brands used to be able to throw big budgets at massive reach opportunities, there’s been a decline in appointment-consumption coupled with a thinning attention span among the average consumer,” shares Katz. “Gen Z and Millennials, as well as increasingly older demographics, are too distracted to simply recall ‘loud’ marketing. While in purchase mode with a smartphone in hand, being top-of-mind in someone’s consideration set demands more sophisticated targeting than what the traditionally coveted 30-second Super Bowl spot can accomplish.”
For a brand’s content strategy to be successful in today’s modern consumer-driven market, it must activate and engage its digital community in ways that the advertising of yesterday never could by following new rules.
Want more on Gen Z? Get your copy of Jeff Fromm & Angie Read’s new book, Marketing to Gen Z, here!
Today, the preferred method of communication is via mobile. And when it comes to mobile content, consumers want engagement and discovery, not interruptive advertising. Brands must think of this content as an opportunity for their voice to fit into the lives of today’s modern consumers, namely Gen Z, rather than another obstacle in the marketing journey.
So, what does it take to build a content strategy worthy of Gen Z? Here are 10 to-do’s:
Make it Authentic
Gen Zers hate when their parents try to act cool around their friends, and they feel the same about brands or public figures that try to act “hip” to get their attention. While they trust brands less than previous generations did and will do everything in their power to skip traditional ads, Pivotals are open to engaging with brands – as long as it’s on their terms. But their terms are pretty steep, which is perhaps why Pivotals engage less with brands overall than other generations do.
Make it Fast
It’s been mentioned before, but it’s important enough to repeat: You only have eight seconds or less to capture the attention of Gen Z. Don’t waste valuable time! Secure attention fast with compelling, relevant content. Ask yourself: Is it ideal for mobile? Do you have strong visuals? What about video? Are you sharing something of interest in the first three seconds? If they find you appealing quickly, they will take more time to get to know you.
Make it Seamless and Consistent
Gen Zers expect a seamless experience across every screen and on every channel. The buzzword of the moment is “omnichannel.” But that doesn’t mean repurposing every piece of content across all platforms. You can’t put a 30-second TV commercial on Facebook or YouTube and call it a day. Your content needs to match the purpose of the channel on which it’s shared.
Make it Friendly
Be personable. Have authentic, two-way conversations with Gen Z, both online and offline. Your in-store customer service should mirror your mobile experience. If a brand is quick to respond to a tweet with a fun comment but its in-store experience is uptight and stiff, it has lost its chance at a lasting friendship.
Make it Human
Consumers trust people more than brands, and this is no different with Gen Z. They want to be treated like people, not numbers, and expect their favorite brands to act accordingly.
Make it Humorous
You know what isn’t funny to Gen Z? Just ask! Get a group of them together and have them show you the top five funniest videos on YouTube right now. What they share may catch you off guard. They have an offbeat, quirky, often raw and self-deprecating sense of humor. Your brand will need to understand this if you have hopes to connect with these consumers.
Make it Autonomous
Don’t force Gen Z to watch your videos. They demand control over the ad experience. If they see a video they can’t skip, they’ll probably look away. In fact, it’s better to give them some control. Otherwise, they’ll continue to install mobile ad-blockers in protest.
Make it Compassionate
Gen Zers recognize their privilege in having such advanced technology and seek out opportunities to use their access to help others. Brands should aid them in their efforts to support the issues that are at the core of what matters to them today.
Make it Secure
To deliver highly personalized and relevant content, marketers have begun to lean on data more than ever before. Collecting locations, behavior and clicks “behind the scenes” has become a common practice to enhance the Gen Z experience. Because of this, however, Gen Zers expect increased privacy, honesty and integrity any time their personal information is collected. This very vocal and uniquely private group will not tolerate a breach of trust.
Want more on Gen Z? Get your copy of Jeff Fromm & Angie Read’s new book, Marketing to Gen Z, here!
While perhaps surprising, emojis – a favorite of Gen Z – have been around for nearly 20 years. Shigetaka Kurita invented them in 1998 while working for DoCoMo, a large Japanese mobile communication company. His idea was to create a way for users to send pictures back and forth without using too much data. Simply, to create a one character “code” that would be displayed as an image or icon on the other device.
Fast forward to today; emojis are being sent at a rate of more than six billion per day! In 2015, emoji was Oxford Dictionaries’ Word of the Year for its popularity and extensive usage. From checking your Facebook feed, to scrolling through texts on your phone, to advertisements across channels – emojis are everywhere.
If you don’t yet see how this matters to marketing, consider this: 84 percent of all marketing communication is expected to be visual by this year, according to Cisco Systems, Inc. This isn’t limited to a particular medium, either. It will be across newspapers, emails, websites, social media and more. Graphics are not only simple and span language barriers with ease, they also offer a heightened level of creativity.
Yet, as emojis are in nature made to hold different meanings, it’s important for brands to tread lightly. Emojis are not always the best approach for every company or every public figure as it may come across as inauthentic or as “trying too hard” – consider the Hillary Clinton Twitter student debt faux pas.
But if you need inspiration, Domino’s and Dunkin’ Donuts are two brands using emojis the right way. Let’s take a look into their campaigns:
Who: Domino’s Pizza
What: The brand created a permanent feature allowing customers to place pizza orders by simply tweeting the pizza emoji at Domino’s.
How: The campaign works by accessing consumers’ Easy Order profile once they register their Twitter handle on Domino’s website. Once Domino’s receives the tweet, the customer receives a confirmation message for the order, and the pizza is made and sent to his or her home.
Impact: The pizza chain turned a mundane activity – ordering pizza – into something novel and innovative. Since Domino’s already receives half of its business through online orders, the option to “tweet a pizza” makes it even more convenient for those inclined to order digitally. The campaign received significant media coverage and won the Cannes Titanium Grand Prix for most breakthrough idea of the year in 2016.
Who: Dunkin’ Donuts
What: Dunkin’ Donuts became the first national coffee chain to allow gifting and payment within Apple’s iMessage.
How: Customers can send the gift of coffee more easily than ever using ApplePay on the Dunkin’ Donuts app. The app also boasted its own set of original Dunkin’ Donuts stickers that can be downloaded from Apple’s App Store. Fans can also create virtual greeting cards with their iMessage Card Builder.
Impact: By embracing iMessage, Dunkin’ Donuts committed to making its brand as accessible as possible. Apple Pay, already a popular in-store option, enabled customers to pay securely via mobile, while the stickers provided a new way for users to interact with the brand.
Want more on Gen Z? Get your copy of Jeff Fromm & Angie Read’s new book, Marketing to Gen Z, here!
There is a lot of confusion nowadays when it comes to defining who belongs to which generation and why. People that are well into their older years tend to criticize young groups of so-called “Millennials” for their vanity, lack of common sense and smartphone obsession. But who are they actually talking about, and more importantly, is what they’re saying true?
The Millennial generation’s oldest members were born all the way back in 1979, and its youngest in 1995. The youth of today is thus part of Generation Z – born between 1996 and 2010. And while politicians and self-declared experts tend to present them in a negative light, they will be the ones to revolutionize the world.
How Gen Z Will Change the Workplace
A 2014 article published by Psychology Today made a statement that sounded bold back then: By the coming of 2015, 75 percent of employees will be composed of Millennials. It’s 2018 now, and we can safely say that is true. Their novelty values and approaches challenged and reshaped the professional landscape entirely.
But Generation Z is growing up and soon enough they’ll join the workforce, too. However, just because they’re tweens and teens now, it doesn’t mean they don’t know what they want to do with their lives. And surprisingly enough, their career objectives are vastly different from those of Millennials. What are their career objectives?
A Propensity for Office Jobs
According to TIME Magazine, a global survey conducted by Future Workplace in partnership with Randstad has revealed that the youth of today can’t wait to work in an office. While their predecessors grew sick and tired of the concept and dreamed of having jobs that allow them to stay at home or be mobile, Gen Z is a lot more traditional about career options.
More than 36 percent of them expressed their desire to be employed in an office, which is a 20 percent increase from 2014. Meanwhile, the response among Millennials dwindled in the same timeframe, dropping from 47 percent to 37 percent in just two years. The number of Millennials who preferred working from home also nearly doubled.
Direct Approach to Goal Pursuit
Members of Gen Z will be far more likely to get what they want faster when they join the workforce. This is due to their renowned “pester power,” a compendium of verbal negotiation and bribing techniques they employ in relationship with their parents and peers to make sure their desires are always fulfilled. While older generations perceive them as manipulative because of this, imagine the kind of change this can bring to the job industry. By developing these skills while in their early teenage years, these kids will be much more direct in pursuing their careers once they begin.
Improved Corporate Communication
While Millennials are strongly adept when it comes to virtual communication, Forbes Magazine discloses a surprising fact about their successors: even though Gen Zers are true digital natives, they will, in fact, be much more prone to direct, face-to-face communication, especially on the job. There is a simple explanation for this: These kids grew up watching Millennials (some of them being their parents) get criticized by Gen X for relying on technology too much and forgetting how to live their lives. While they themselves understand the benefits of this, it is deeply ingrained in their minds that there are plenty of negative aspects to it as well.
More Independence in the Workplace
While Millennials are clearly obsessed with being mentored by their bosses, young people nowadays tend to be a lot more professionally independent. In complete accord with their notorious hands-on style, they want to do things their way and learn from their own experiences.
Every single person living today has something important to contribute, and that will soon include Generation Z. Although they are now often overlooked, soon they will be taking over the market – both as consumers and as employees. Thanks to their no-frills approach and propensity for office employment and direct communication, the youth of today will soon revolutionize the job industry and the world as we know it.
From time-to-time we have guest bloggers contribute to our site. The views, opinions and positions expressed within these guest posts are those of the author alone and do not represent those of the Millennial Marketing team. The accuracy, completeness and validity of any statements made within this article are not guaranteed. We accept no liability for errors, omissions or representations. The copyright of this content belongs to the author and any liability with regards to infringement of intellectual property rights remains with them.
While we often refer to the Millennial generation as the first digital natives, today’s teens are truly the first generation of consumers to have grown up in an entirely “post-digital” era.
For Generation Z, which we’re dubbing the Pivotal Generation, digital is as important to their daily life as the very air they breath. Starting in early childhood, if they did not know an answer to a question, they were taught to “Google it” or “ask Siri.” This immediate availability of information and the ease with which it can be accessed has had a major influence on shaping the way Pivotals engage with brands, make purchase decisions and connect with their peer networks.
As a result, our market is now dependent on a two-way conversation – something that did not exist during the Baby Boomer years of mass marketing.
The advancement of social media has heightened the need for brands to have constant communication with consumers. Because if a brand doesn’t have a responsive online presence in today’s world, does it even exist?
At least, that’s what teens are thinking.
While all generations are active on at least one of today’s social platforms, Generation Z is by far the most voracious and complex in their use of all social media. Our research found that Pivotals lead when it comes to usage of YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Tumblr, Kik, Periscope and even Tinder. And according to the #Being13 Study conducted by CNN, some 13-year-olds check their social accounts as much as 100 times per day, making it evident that this generation has no concept of what daily activity is like without social media and the technology that fuels it.
“Constantly connected is their norm,” said Mia Dand, CEO of digital strategy and research advisory firm Lighthouse3. “They are growing up in an always-on, mobile-only world with messaging apps that allow them to instantly and effortlessly connect with anyone across the globe in real-time.”
And Pivotals aren’t just hyper-connected to their peers. They have the same expectation for brands.
“It’s a social norm for them to not only be connected with their family and friends, but also with brands and businesses – essentially the world – at all times,” said Ramsey Mohsen, CEO of social news and edutainment company Everhance.
Unlike the Millennial tendency to broadcast everything, however, we are seeing a shift by Pivotals to a mentality of only sharing specific stories, to specific people, on specific channels. This is evident when we look at the platforms that teens are most likely to use. Rather than frequenting the “over-sharing” platform of Facebook, they are top users of platforms that allow them to select who sees their content such as Snapchat and Instagram.
“These platforms are so popular because it’s only the people they choose to connect with that see what they share,” said Mohsen. “After all, the only way social networks work is to have the people who are relevant to you included and sharing content.”
This means that using social media is not a free-for-all for Pivotals.
In fact, our research found that there is a detailed ecosystem of rules and guidelines when it comes to the Big Four – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat:
Instagram is for conveying carefully manicured style. Snapchat is for in-the-moment messaging. Twitter is for real-time talk around trending events, and Facebook, well, that’s for Mom and Grandma. As social media becomes ever more ingrained in daily life, it’s critical for communicators to understand how young users interact across different media and to handcraft messages that abide by the rules of each platform.
This mixture of hyper-connectivity and selectivity when it comes to social media usage by Pivotals makes it necessary for brands to keep their finger on the pulse of constantly shifting expectations in order to market most effectively. If mass media died with Millennials, then members of the Pivotal Generation are digging the grave.
“Brands need to tread lightly – the same types of social tricks that Boomers and even Millennials found surprising will be completely see-through to Gen Z,” said Joe Cox, engagement director at Barkley Ad Agency. “Unless a brand knows their editorial authority – what they have permission to talk about based on the true beliefs of their brand – and the rules Gen Z has put in place for social networking, they won’t resonate with this consumer group.”
Want more on Gen Z? Order your copy of Jeff Fromm & Angie Read’s new book, Marketing to Gen Z, available here!
Depending on who you ask or what you read, you’ll likely notice slight variations in the birth years of Millennials and Gen Z. Confusing? Maybe, but generational analysis isn’t an exact science.
So, why do generational birth years matter? While generations are not homogenous cohorts, they are largely influenced by defining moments – typically the most impactful moments of their early lives. Generations develop strong emotional connections to these formative experiences which impact how they view themselves and the world around them. This is important for brands and marketers to understand when trying to reach and create relevance with generational cohorts. It is also equally important to realize that generations are diverse/multifaceted groups, made up of sub-segments.
In a recent post on Pew Research Center’s “Fact Tank” blog, Pew’s president, Michael Dimock, said, “…keep in mind that generations are a lens through which to understand societal change, rather than a label with which to oversimplify differences between groups.”
Recently, Pew Research Center outlined a cutoff point between Millennials and Generation Z. Pew defines Millennials as anyone born between 1981 and 1996 (ages 22-37 in 2018). Long before this announcement, we at FutureCast had already outlined our own birth-year parameters for Millennials and Gen Z to help our readers better understand the distinctions between these two modern consumer cohorts.
Human civilization has always been averse to technological advances. Even Socrates opposed the development of writing, convinced that knowledge can only be gained through dialogue. The classical philosopher contended that writing something down causes one’s memory of the event to become distorted and one-dimensional. Regardless, writing became a staple of our civilization. Society progressed.
The internet, too, has spawned controversy in its time about its potential to “dumb” the world down. After the web became ingrained in everyday life, the rise of social media brought along similar concerns about its negative impact on humanity. And there are downsides. Social media directly impacts how individuals view themselves. With some 13-year-olds checking their social accounts as many as 100 times per day, researchers have warned of potential addiction issues. Other studies go even further, warning of self-esteem and depression issues.
Parents, educators and mental-health professionals alike continue to question whether social media is a positive or negative influence on Pivotals, especially as many are still teenagers (or younger) developing their personal identities. What is it about social media that has youth spending more time on it than sleeping or spending time with parents and teachers (even though most are in school full-time)?
“I think they’re addicted to the peer connection and affirmation they’re able to get via social media,” said child clinical psychologist Marion Underwood, co-author of the #Being13 study in an interview with CNN. “To know what each other are doing, where they stand, to know how many people like what they posted, to know how many people followed them today and unfollowed them..that, I think, is highly addictive.”
In other words, this is a generation riddled with not only FOMO – fear of missing out – but also FOLO – fear of living offline.
More than half of teens wanted to see if they were receiving likes and comments and more than a third wanted to see if their friends were getting together without them. Twenty-one percent wanted to confirm that nobody was saying hurtful things about them. While this may be a reflection of life stage, we tend to believe this is more revealing of a generation that has been guided by social media and digital technology their entire lives. As a result, they routinely fret about how their digital lives and identities impact their relationships with others IRL.
For brands, this means being aware of the anxieties they face and supporting Gen Z as they navigate the waters of growing up in an entirely new arena: the digital realm.
Want more on Gen Z? Stay tuned for Jeff Fromm & Angie Read’s new book, Marketing to Gen Z, coming Spring 2018. Pre-order here!
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