Gen Z: Your greatest opportunity and responsibility

Today's youth are labelled in many different ways iGeneration, The Plurals, Post-Millennials but probably most often termed 'Gen Z'. They are an audience who are more ambitious, expectant, positive and empowered than has ever come before.

Gen Z: Your greatest opportunity and responsibility

They have low levels of trust and high levels of expectation from the brands they love and hate.  Not only are they true digital natives, but they are a group who - for the first time - are willing to pay more for brands based on environmental, social and community considerations, and encourage their peers to do the same. 

Marketers will often argue that young people don’t really change that much from generation to generation OR conversely they get completely obsessed with what is making the next generation different. We at Livity believe it is wise to understand a bit of both is true.

Having grown up to a backdrop of recession, uncertainty and war, today's under 20's - Gen Z - are resigned to struggle

Seismic shifts

It is true that no matter what era we think about ‘youth’, from ‘Baby Boomers’ to ‘Gen X’ or ‘Millennials’, this age group demonstrates similar collective behaviour and creates the biggest uprisings, forces for change and new forms of consumption.

But alongside this it cannot be denied that the massive changes in the world around them motivates and enables each generation differently. And we, as marketers, have to listen to these sometimes seismic shifts in consumerism, to ensure our success.

Having grown up to a backdrop of recession, uncertainty and war, today's under 20's - Gen Z - are resigned to struggle. 

They know that education will not come cheaply and will by no means guarantee a job at the end of the years of study and debt. But they have also seen how technology has empowered both individuals and groups to shape and change the world.

They are, generally, more altruistic and philanthropic feeling determined to make a difference. This generation might be the one to potentially fix the mess they inherited.

This increased sense of personal purpose means that they expect the brands that they connect with to be the same.

The power of brands

A quantitive research study conducted globally, The 2014 Aspirational Consumer Index, shows that we’re dealing with an entirely new phenomenon in today's youth; they are excited by buying new, and responsible products. A total of 93% are willing to pay more for brands based on environmental, social and community considerations and 90% encourage their peers to do the same.

Many organisations have already spotted, started to instigate and to see the benefits of really understanding and communicating the values of their brands.

The future of marketing is philanthropy, because young people buy meaning

Unilever and their Sustainable Living Plan and more recently Coco-Cola and McDonalds have revealed a more ‘social’ commercial approach by designing products, services and marketing communications to deliver on their purpose. 

In fact, co-founder of Twitter, Biz Stone goes so far as to say that "the future of marketing is philanthropy, because young people buy meaning."

Not only is it is important from a consumer perspective, but also this generation are your future employees that you will be hoping to attract in the near future.

But you should tread cautiously, the worst thing you could do is create a disingenuous message around your purpose because no matter what generation we are talking about, no consumer wants to be taken for a fool.

Don’t get us wrong, all this chat about ultraism, purpose and responsibility might make you think that this generation could take themselves too seriously. But like we say, somet things don’t change; they will continue to question and experiment with their identities, and they will fall in love dramatically. Just like they always have.

After all, kids will be kids, and thank goodness for that.

Kate Brundle, Business Development and Marketing Director, Livity @kate_brundle

Hear more from Livity at Marketing's Connect conference on 23 - 24 April. See www.connectconference.co.uk for details.