What are some of the key differences between Gen Z and Millennials when it comes to interacting with brands?

One of the biggest differences is that influencer marketing appeals more to Gen Z than millennials. They appear more authentic and have incredibly loyal audiences. While millennials do pay attention to influencers, Gen Z is certainly the most receptive to brands using influencers. Another difference is that, contrary to a popular belief, Gen Z doesn’t shop online as much as millennials. This could be because most of Gen Z is much younger, but for right now, millennials do the most online shopping.

Also, Gen Z uses more digital platforms and they use them all at the same time. This makes it harder for brands to capture and keep our attention because we’ll use our phone for 10 seconds, watch TV for 2 minutes, the computer for another 30 seconds and then go back to our phone. While millennials use 3 screens, Gen Z uses 5.

A lot of brands use loyalty programs, rewarding customers who come back over and over. However, Gen Z doesn’t necessarily want to stay with one brand. They’d rather be given options. Also, the event that shaped millennials was 9/11 but Gen Z grew up during the recession. They watched their parents lose 45% of their net worth and were told that there are winners and losers.

What are the top youth marketing mistakes you’ve seen from brands over the past few years?

One of the biggest mistakes brands make when marketing to Gen Z is taking too long to get to the point. Gen Z has an 8 second attention span, so if they’re bored in the first few seconds, they probably won’t pay any attention to the rest. Brands need to make sure their marketing messages add value quickly.

Another mistake is websites that aren’t optimized for mobile use. Gen Z uses 5 screens at a time, so if you want to reach them, make sure the company’s website is working.

Also, trying to integrate with Gen Z in an inauthentic way is a huge problem. A lot of companies have heard that Gen Z likes brands with a message, or that have a charitable component, and end up integrating something that doesn’t work with their brand. For example, if Vans said they’re going to donate a pair of shoes to someone in need for every pair they sell, that’s great but if they say they’re going to build a skatepark for every 2000 pairs sold, that’s more inauthentic to who they are as a brand.

What brands have you see doing a great job capturing the attention of Gen Z consumers?

One brand that’s doing a great job marketing to Gen Z is Taco Bell. Their Instagram account is aesthetically appealing.  Their creative and digital teams have done a great job with it. It seems like they pay attention to their new menu items to see how they’ll appear on social media. They’re using micro influencers effectively.  I’d say they did a great campaign for the release of their Naked Chicken Chalupa.

Starbucks, Netflix and Oreo are also brands that appeal to Gen Z. They’re seen as “cool,” which is often the deciding factor among Gen Zers. Starbucks has released products like the unicorn frappuccino that almost instantly trended across social media, despite a lot of people believing that it doesn’t taste good. Recently, La Croix and Halo Top became incredibly popular. Both of those companies used micro influencers, and spread their brand quickly across social media.

Last, but not least, do you think influencer marketing is a necessary component to successfully reach and engage young people?

Influencer marketing is an incredibly effective way to engage today’s youth. As mentioned previously, a lot of the brands that are doing a great job with Gen Z have used both influencers as well as micro-influencers. If it’s done correctly, it can result in incredible growth of a brand. Influencers appeal so much to Gen Z because they’re seen as authentic. By the time a Gen Zer is 15, they’ve seen over 150,000 marketing messages so they’re great at deciphering what is worth their time. Often, advertising is inauthentic so using influencers – who are seen as authentic and relatable – can be a great way to connect with young people.

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