What Gen Z want from brands? An actual Gen Z tells it all
Posted on 2023 Jul,11

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What does GenZ want? There are plenty of quantitative surveys available but there’s nothing quite like a qualitative and experienced view, especially from a person of this generation who already works in the industry.

Gen Z is disrupting industries to reshape the future of commerce, and savvy brands are taking notice. With the group poised to surpass millennials as the largest audience segment this year, businesses are racing to win their favor as a means of future proofing themselves.
In Saudi Arabia alone, the cohort represents about 23% of the total population: More than eight million people. And with 70% of them impacting their family's buying decisions, this generation is not only highly influential but also considered the most entrepreneurial age group in the country.

Sidra Fareed of Socialize breaks down the importance of this generation (between 9 and 24 years old), its impact and spending power and helpfully outlines better ways to engage with, connect and encourage loyalty from this young group.

'Throughout my work as Junior Strategist, I've relished sharing fascinating insights about my generation with my team and our clients; helping them navigate the complex world of engaging the new face of youth. However, I've discovered that this information sharing is far from being straightforward.

It's no secret that my generation isn't flawless. We champion our values; yet simultaneously embrace junk food, fast fashion, and corporate monopolies. We condemn nepotism but over two-thirds of Gen Z workers have benefited from nepotism to secure job offers. We claim to be price-conscious, yet we're willing to pay a premium for products that appear valuable to us.

As consumers, we often feel misunderstood by brands. We desire a seat at the table in brand communications because we feel that advertisers struggle to speak our language or generalize the generation too broadly, lumping everyone into a single category. 

Though seemingly complex, this is not all bad news for businesses. What I've found to be their most prevailing trait of Gen Z is that they are especially pragmatic in their approach to life and everything they seek from authenticity to relevance actually stems from this practicality. These traits alone have provided the advertising industry with numerous data points and defining factors to play with.

What Brands Get Wrong About Gen-Z And And Five Simple Ways To Solve It

Advertisers believe that Gen Z is a socially conscious generation and to appeal to them brands must show an extensive commitment to societal challenges. But it’s a misconception that Gen-Z wants brands to solve every social dilemma. When surveyed, while 59% across all generations prefer to buy from companies aligned with their social values, only 56% of Gen Zers agree.
What this means is that though the group may be inclined towards brands that champion their values, in reality brands can't commit to every social issue without risking their authenticity. The goal therefore becomes for brands to steer clear of danger zones and connect with Gen Z using comms that not only resonate, but also captivate. 

To do this, here are five simple techniques for brands, accompanied by essential guidelines:


Prioritize Social Listening To Play Fewer, But Stronger Moves

The key is to understand your audience, hear what they're discussing and are intrigued by, then choose your priorities accordingly. 

Do: Commit to less, but commit wholeheartedly. Make your social commitment seamlessly flow all the way from your brand’s corporate goals to individual elements such as employee recognition. Remember to be transparent as Gen Z is more likely to scrutinize your claims. 

Don’t: Cater towards foreign issues without addressing those that are closer to Gen Z such as the inequality or discomfort that is prevalent in their own country.


Elevate Digital Experiences

Gen Z considers digital experiences to be just as important as price when it comes to making purchasing decisions. The key is to prioritize creating content that is engaging, interactive and intuitive.

Do: Consider incorporating emerging technologies like augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) to create memorable experiences.

Don’t: Over-polish content to the point where it appears disingenuous and disconnected from reality. Gen Z is highly attuned to modern marketing tactics and is quick to spot brands that are trying too hard.


Collaborate with Real People

Gen Z is wary of misleading influencer marketing and celebrity endorsements, with 44% saying they would no longer consider a brand that inauthentically partners with a celebrity or influencer to promote their products.

Do: Work with local community leaders, micro-influencers, and other creators who resonate with Gen Z's preferences and prioritize authenticity over follower count.

Don’t: Try to mask brand collaborations in the fear of it appearing ad-like. Gen Z is smart enough to know when brands are trying to lead them towards transactions without proof of value.


Be Funny But Don’t Overdo It

Known for their meta-ironic humour, Gen Z feels closely attached to brands that can step away from the corporate suits to be personal and humorous.

Do: Hire creators and agencies that understand Gen Z's language and culture. Empower them to be creative while also staying true to the brand.

Don’t: Don’t hop on every trend that comes your way, iIt's not all about your employees dancing. And if there is anything Gen Z may hate more than such hyper-reactive brands is the ones that try to be funny and dismissive with the overuse of ‘Gen-Z slang’.


Empower Their Perspectives

An overwhelming 72% of Gen Zers express a strong desire to be heard and seen by brands and 64% are more likely to purchase from brands that listen to their feedback. As a forward-thinking brand, it is crucial to show to this audience that making them feel included is a part of your business goals. 

Do: Engage with Gen Z in comments and direct messages, showing your appreciation for their relationship with your brand. Respond to concerns in direct messages and provide thoughtful feedback across all channels.

Don’t: Apply generic messages and automated replies to all audience concerns. Take the time to show that you genuinely care about each individual, even if it's only for a small percentage of the larger population.

When brands take the time to truly understand who we are, what we value, and what makes us tick, magic happens. A genuine connection thrives—one that surpasses mere transactions and evolves into a meaningful relationship - a relationship destined to thrive in the long-term future.'