Deal or Dive: the Anti-Trend Generation

Marketing in 2019 is going to be a completely different animal from before. Social activity and exposure will be challenging when marketing toward the anti-trend generation. 

But why is this happening? Basically, Generation Z is not easily impressed. And they don’t like joining bandwagons just for the heck of it.

What is the Anti-Trend Generation

The anti-trend generation describes Generation Z and their tendency to be contradictory. This generation is also known as the anti-brand generation. If you’re anywhere involved with marketing and social media exposure, then you know this can be a difficult road to navigate.

Generation Z sets themselves apart from the “Millenials,” or Generation Y, which was largely driven by brand name fame. Generation Y was known for flashy and expensive fashion choices, flaunting fame and being drawn to established companies.

We see now that a new change is coming. Our social strategies can’t survive as is marketing to Generation Y as they grow older, have families and their flashy views have changed. We now have to market with Generation Z in mind.

The Personality of Generation Z

To begin building a social strategy aimed at this new gen, you first have to get an idea of who you’re dealing with. This generation is more into the inner value of companies. They ask more questions and want to know where brands came from and where they are going.

Typical things this generation are interested in knowing about companies is:

  • Who runs it?
  • When was it founded?
  • Are the products mass produced?
  • Are the products unique?
  • If I own it, will I see five others with the same one?

In essence, Gen Z is more interested in investing their dollars on names they feel will be offering a unique addition to the world. They shun mass trends and know the value of a buck. They aren’t willing to spend it on excessively expensive items just because a famous person told them to.

This brings me to the point of influencers when it comes to Gen Z.

Does Generation Z Still Respond to Influencers?

In short, yes, Gen Z still responds to influencers, but not the ones you’ve been using. This generation has seen a rise in interest in areas of human rights, social justice, activism, and political reform.

Gen Z is responsible for making some of our culture’s current video creators famous. We’ve all seen Nas Daily and his 1-minute videos about traveling the world. He jolted to fame by visiting cities around the world with an open mind and heart. In each city, he invited residents to join his video and participate in his discussions.

The positivity of his online persona and Facebook channel received an overwhelming response from Gen Z.

This generation is especially interested in the idea of tolerance and inclusion. They’ve made a bigger effort to understand cultures around the world. Middle Eastern culture is one that met open arms in Gen Z after decades of persecution and intolerance from previous generations.

Nas isn’t the only example. Firas Alshater became Germany’s most famous refugee when he started a vlog journaling his blind hug experiment. He initially started his effort to spread love and decrease negative bias toward Middle Easterners.

Also, a popular favorite is Khalid Al Ameri, known on Facebook for creating short videos detailing daily family life in the UAE. His page is dedicated to bring people together and show the world that Muslims, although they have different beliefs, aren’t much different than mainstream families.  

What do these three success stories have in common? All are aimed at a genuine experience in favor of tolerance and peace. None market expensive, flashy products. None are offering “honest reviews” of products or services in exchange for free stuff. Most of all, all of them were made famous largely by the support of Generation Z.

There are many examples out there.

Generation Z’s Take on Influencers

The anti-trend generation has been studied by the Center for Generational Kinetics, which found that Gen Z makes celebrities out of SM influencers. Their study, “The State of Gen Z 2018,” found that 48 percent of this generation follows more than 10 influencers online. Another 10 percent follow 50 or more.

Furthermore, this generation is a mobile-only group that focuses on mobile activity. Desktop strategies don’t work as well with them. According to the study, 95 percent of this generation owns a smartphone and use it over 5 hours per day. Most of their activity is driven by videos they watch created by influencers or marketing partner brands.

Dr. Denise Villa, CEO of the Center for Generational Kinetics stated,

“These online personalities make an immediate impact on this generation’s brand loyalty and purchasing decisions. Companies need to embrace this approach, and leverage it as part of their marketing efforts because Gen Z will ditch the companies that don’t keep up.”

What this study and our current knowledge say is that Generation Z more likely to purchase products and services mentioned to them by an influencer, but only if that person meets their social standing.

Gen Z is actively looking for people to make famous. The only thing a marketing partner needs to look for in an influencer is someone with a voice, a story, a mission and a good social media following.

If you can manage to find someone like this, the task becomes easier instantly.

How to Market to Gen Z in 2019

First thing is first, leave the brand at the door. Start fresh and make this audience feel like they’ve discovered you, not the other way around. As we said before, Gen Z is all about making brands and influencers famous.

Audience Targeting

Gen Z is more likely to be curious about a brand that isn’t plastered everywhere. Target your audience super-specifically to ensure you break down the group. You don’t want every member of the same audience to see the same ad.

With Gen Z, they like to feel like you’ve made something just for them. Design two to three different ads for your brand, launch the campaigns aimed at different demographics within the same small group. Now you have the illusion of a unique product being marketing just for them.

What’s Your Story?

You cannot get by anymore without expressing your company’s story. This generation is absolutely into the idea of lending a hand to a neighbor. If your company has a story about the craftsmanship of its products, how it all began…. By all means, do tell. You’re more likely to get more action this way.

But this is a double edge sword. Gen Z is also interested in what you’re going to do with the money they spend on you! Yes, they are conscious buyers. Gen Z is more likely to purchase products from companies who participate in charity returns.

Alternatively, they like to support up-and-coming brands. So, if you are going to be donating proceeds or using the money to invest in better capital, let them know.

Your employees are not lost in this nest either. This generation is into social justice. This means they want to see brands that treat their employees well and pay them proper wages. They want to see the face of your team. So when you’re building those marketing campaigns, don’t forget to get a group pic for the website! Even better, include a short intro video on your site to welcome all of your clickers.

Don’t Be a Brand, Be an Entity

If you haven’t gotten it by now, Generation Z hates brands. They like living, breathing concepts.

One brand that has completely won favor with this gen is, ironically, a brand called “Brandless.” This company literally supplies cheaper home products to its customers at about $3 a piece. They are all marked “Brandless” and they aren’t flashy or fancy.

Their products are just good items sold to them without an enormous markup.

In 2017, they had already amassed over $16 million in funding and were marketing strong. They got an equally strong response.

This company made video ads showcasing their fair business model, their team and their mission. Gen Z got on board.

When marketing to this generation, just remember that they don’t want to see another logo. They don’t want to see expensive items that have no real value. What they want to see is you, your team, and your views on life.

Remember, this is the generation focused on shunning businesses with bad or abusive social practices.

So, if you want Gen Z on your side, you better put social equality at the top of your strategy. Also, start working on unique campaigns.

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