Marketers have been segmenting and defining generations for, well, generations. Today, youth marketing pros have their segmentation eyes on Generation Z.
But the truth is, like snowflakes, no two Gen Zers are exactly the same. Just as no two human beings, regardless of age or life experience, are the same.
Still, we have personified three Gen Z teens below. The goal is to get youth marketers to start thinking about this up-and-coming generation not as a target generation, but rather to consider who these kids really are, what they care about, and where you can find them. Understand that one does not target generation Z, one enters into a relationship with Generation Z. So who are they?
The Social Media Butterfly
Like the Social Media Butterfly (SMB). The moment she awakens, she reaches for her iPhone (it’s right next to her because she sleeps with it) to check Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Tumblr, Kik, and Vine. It’s her daily ritual. After school she checks them all again. During homework, she checks out some studyblrs for help. Before bedtime, she has five text strings running simultaneously. Tonight’s subject: tomorrow’s Taylor Swift concert.
Flash forward to the Taylor Swift show. The SMB gives the real-time play-by-play on Insta and Snapchat. It’s how she tells her world (mostly in images) that she’s there – and for friends who can’t be, it’s like they are there. The SMB pops onto her Twitter feed for up-to-the-second concert news and updates (DO NOT go to the bathroom near section 345! Line = literally ridic #swiftiestrugglz). At the end of the night, she sends out her TSwift Snapchat Story. It recounts everything.
How marketers can reach her
Social is a means to enhance the live experience, not an end that totally disrupts it. Be a part of the organic conversation. SMBs can smell inauthentic from the parking lot, so show off your brand’s personality and distinct voice. And don’t forget to “speak” SMB: pics and emojis speak a thousand words.
Think about running a contest that bridges the physical, digital, and social worlds. Partner with a brand ambassador who’s popular with Gen Z and has ties to the live event, like a Vine star or a YouTube-lebrity. Join up with teen-approved apps like Wishbone to promote your brand with “the cool kids” at the show. Finally, remember: not everyone can score a ticket. This is an opportunity for brands to reach “virtual attendees” by hooking up with live streaming platforms like Periscope and YouNow.
The r/music Maestro
The way they listen to it may have changed, but teens will always love music. Gen Zers say listening to music is their top spare time activity, and more than two-thirds discover new music through family and friends.
Friends like the r/music Maestro. He’s a tastemaker and a connoisseur rolled into one. He streams music for hours a day on Spotify, iTunes, YouTube, Vevo, and always while he does his homework. And genres? He does not discriminate, but he loves 90s post-punk and garage stuff like Rancid, Bad Religion, and Social Distortion. He owns his social circles by mixing in the dopest playlists. Followers of his “90s Garage All-Stars” Spotify playlist just hit 7,000.
The r/music Maestro scours the Internet for news on his favorite and emerging artists and is obsessed with “discovering” the next self-made social media music star, like Lil Dickey. (Since he’s 18, he’s going with some older college buds to see Lil Dickey at #FEST in April.) His music knowledge comes from his Vine feed and Reddit. In fact, he’s over on r/hiphopheads right now crushing an argument about why Biggie will forever and always be better than Tupac.
How marketers can reach him
Meet him where he loves to be: concerts and music festivals. These events are opportunities for brands to stand out with one-of-a-kind experiences. During 2015 DigiFest tour stops, for example, clothing brand OP created a physical beach right in the middle of the parking lot – sand, palm trees, umbrellas, and all. Bonus: it was a social media hit.
Giveaways or chances to win prizes, like upgraded tickets or VIP sessions with a favorite band or artist, are great ways to engage the r/music Maestro – it’s all about maintaining the feeling of exclusivity while achieving accessibility.
Today’s teens are committed to making the world a better place. More than a quarter of 16- to 19-year-olds currently volunteer. And, 60 percent say that they want their jobs to impact the world.
The Do-Gooder-Preneur exhibits all of these Generation Z characteristics. The Occupy Wall Street movement and #BlackLivesMatter have profoundly affected his worldview. He’s politically aware and active, even though he’s not yet of legal voting age. On weekends, he helps his dad canvas the neighborhood in support of Bernie Sanders 2016. He wants everyone to “Feel the Bern”!
He thinks working for The Man sucks, so he’s got plans for his own post-college business venture. And he’s already getting started: he’s made headway on building an app that helps grocery stores like Whole Foods and Wegmans connect to homeless shelters in need of food. One of the app’s features is auto-alerts for when the grocery store’s daily unsold supply of pre-made foods is ready for pickup by shelter volunteers.
How marketers can reach him
Sponsor or become a partner in the charitable work that surrounds the issues he cares about. And always make it social and shareable. A great example: the Tom’s Shoes One Day Without Shoes campaign. Every time someone tagged a photo of their bare feet on Instagram with the hashtag #withoutshoes, Tom’s donated a pair of shoes to a child in need.
Help him network with other like-minded Do-Gooder-Preneurs. Facilitate the connection between him and others who share his values and aspirations. But don’t take too much credit; be a subtle yet genuine background voice in support of the cause.
Vans Warped Tour has access to all three of these peeps and we’re experts in tailoring the brand experience on-site to connect with them. Reach out to us and let us help you find the best way to reach this unique audience on tour.