Remember brand loyalty? Gen Z might be the death knell for it.
That may be a bit too dramatic, but now that we have your attention, studies show that nearly 2/3rds of Gen Z shoppers would “check out other options” even if they had a favorite brand, when new products or services come out. And over 50% would make the switch away from their favorite brand if it was cheaper or of higher quality.
If you thought Millennials were hard to tie down to your brand, Gen Z will keep marketing managers busy and keep CEOs from sleeping well at night. Yet as they continue their inevitable march to dominating the core shopping demographic, retail brands have to figure out strategies, as uncommon as they might appear, to meet Gen Z shoppers where they’re at.
Let’s look at four ways that your brand can engage in Gen Z that are outside of the typical methods.
1. Video is King, but Is TikTok?
It’s absolutely clear that Gen Z loves to consume short videos as their main source of information. Unfortunately for Quibi, it arrived a little early to surf on this wave of bite-sized video content, but TikTok sure arrived, fully-formed, at the right time.
But there are cracks in the TikTok empire. The entire state of Montana has decided to ban it, levying a hefty fine for violators. There are real concerns of data leaks to an app with ties to the Chinese government. And when it comes to paying out popular creators on the platform, TikTok comes in far behind other video-sharing services – meaning you might see these creators head for greener pastures.
And surprise: TikTok isn’t the most used platform for Gen Z:
YouTube stands out as Gen-Z's most-used social media platform.
YouTube has been in the video sharing game for far too long to let TikTok win without a fight. Not only is YouTube a more mature and flexible platform for creators, they share more of their ad revenue.
YouTube has also been pushing their short-form content, YouTube Shorts, really hard to rival both TikTok and Instagram’s success. Their algorithm has been pushing YouTube Shorts to nearly all YouTube users, and they of course have the benefit of being under the Google umbrella with access to more analytics than any other platform.
All this is why your retail brand should be investing resources into YouTube Shorts to reach and engage with Gen Z. They’re there anyway, more often than even on TikTok, and it’s a platform that is much less likely to be banned by the government overnight.
2. Leverage Real User Content
As we led with in our previous article on winning over Gen Z, authenticity is a non-negotiable trait. This generation deeply appreciates genuine interactions with brands, and user-generated content provides exactly that. As such, brands may need to revisit their influencer strategies.
Micro-influencers, individuals with less than 5,000 followers, can be a valuable resource in this regard. They offer an authentic, relatable voice and are a cost-effective solution for content creation. Collaborations with these micro-influencers can foster a connection with Gen Z, making your brand more approachable and attractive.
But who are these micro-influencers that your brand should be partnering with? Today, they should be real users of your products. Instead of finding an influencer then selling them on hocking your wares, your brand will see better results if you search for creators already talking about your brand, and reaching out for a partnership.
Search across TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube for mentions of your brand or particular products. Type in variations of hashtags that may be associated with your brand and watch the content that real Gen Zers are putting out there. Soon, you should be able to find a few creators with thousands of followers. Because they have already been creating content around your brand (for free!), you’ll be able to enter into low-cost partnerships to have them continue to create content for you.
You can even repurpose their content for your Shoppable Stories, which makes it easy to send out short videos to your audience via email or SMS.
3. Less Brand Loyalty, More Brand Community
As mentioned, brand loyalty is a tough sell to price-conscious Gen Z shoppers. Especially during an economic downturn where both Gen Z and Millennials are largely living paycheck-to-paycheck due to the cost of living, they’re apt to take a bargain when they see one, no matter what brand.
What they can’t jump ship on as easily is a community they enjoy. Surveys show that communities, even online communities, are a big draw for Gen Z. Feeling like you belong in a group of like-minded people is something Gen Z craves; and it’s no wonder as they had to endure the isolation of divided politics, pandemic-caused online classes, and less and less real-world interactions.
83% of Impero’s Gen Z audience agreed that brands should allow fans to use their IP to create content online.
The report also finds that the brands that stand out are ones that are inclusive to Gen Z and allow them to join in rather than simply purchase products. 83% of Impero’s Gen Z audience agreed that brands should allow fans to use their IP to create content online.
So while TikTok is a great sharing platform, it’s difficult to build a community there. This is why more brands are looking to Discord to provide a virtual space for communities. Discord moderators can encourage content creation by offering contests with prizes, releasing free virtual stickers or emotes, and rewarding frequent users with elevated roles on Discord.
4. Leaning into Sustainable Shopping
There’s one thing that almost all Gen Zers can rally around: environmentalism. Similar to Millennials, Gen Z wants to engage with brands that engage with sustainability.
While sustainable shopping admittedly takes a backseat to price for Gen Z, more and more say they are willing to spend a bit more if the brand touts a commitment to earth-friendly products. And keep in mind, they are only just coming into having any sort of expendable income. As they rise up in the workforce, Gen Z shoppers will have a lot more to say on environmentalism with their wallets.
Retail brands can’t just say they’re into this stuff either. They need to actually show it. Brands should consider releasing a sustainability line of products to lure Gen Z. They should also make environmental activism a core part of their marketing messaging. In fact, while higher prices were their main deterrent to shopping more sustainably, the second place deterrent was lack of information on how a product is actually helping the environment.
Brands that can accurately relabel their products to show how it's more sustainable, or can tell the end-to-end story of how the entire process has been shown to reduce emissions, will win over young shoppers without having to invest in new products. Clearly telling the story and showing the data can be an excellent start to addressing environmental concerns and engaging with Gen Z in a positive way.
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