Engaging Gen Z women: How brands can inspire a social generation
Brands have a stereotypical image of Gen Z as mobile-first, TikTok-loving digital natives, but marketing effectively to them as adults will require a more sophisticated understanding of what they care about
As Generation Z reaches adulthood, this consumer group is undoubtedly set to become a key focus of brands and marketers. But one of the challenges marketers have with Gen Z is a lack of proximity to them day-to-day.
As Grace Beverley, CEO and founder of fitness brands Tala and Shreddy, as well as a self-avowed older member of this generational cohort, pointed out at the Festival of Marketing: “We don’t know Gen Z yet. They haven’t entered the workforce yet. We know them as a teen audience. Marketers go straight to thinking about TikTok, whereas we should really be keeping our eyes out for where [they] will go in terms of expectations and likes. It’s really undecided so far.”
SPONSORED BY Four Nine
BACK TO top
BACK TO HUB
watch ‘Engaging Gen Z women: How brands can inspire a social generation’ at the Festival of Marketing on demand
Find out more about how brands should communicate with Gen Z women. Watch Four Nine’s session ‘Engaging Gen Z women: How brands can inspire a social generation’ at the Festival of Marketing on demand now.
Jungle Creations’ chief content and brand officer, Melissa Chapman, noted that building a relationship through content was critical, and something she has been working with creators to embed into the company’s Four Nine publishing brand.
“Personality-led content really thrives with this demographic. Four Nine Looks started as a beauty tutorial brand and, as we’ve developed that brand, [presenters] Rosie and Lauren have added their personality. Talking and commenting gets five times more engagement and builds loyalty. It goes back to wanting to be authentic and see the faces beyond the brand,” Chapman adds.
“Putting them in a box” is not the way to deal with this audience, agreed panellist Corrina Kavanagh, senior audience development manager for Columbia Records UK. Applying clichés of a mobile-obsessed, digital-only group misses out on a rich landscape of potential interaction.
For Gen Z women in particular, the panellists agreed that any communication has to be nuanced and layered, something that goes far beyond a quick TikTok hit.
‘Authenticity’ is a buzzword often bandied about but the panellists all agreed that no-one can get away with paying lip service to social issues today - especially not in the current climate and never with a female Gen Z audience. Kavanagh said fans will even hold their favourite musicians accountable, which she admits “comes from a good place” but the resulting ‘cancel culture’ has the power to “dismantle a career”.
Whether it’s an artist, influencer or corporate brand, it was agreed that there is a wariness about putting themselves out into the world. Kavanagh’s advice is to “choose a set of values and stick to them as much as you possibly can and educate [yourselves]”. Chapman agreed that the values are key: “Performative marketing – you’re going to get called out for it. Values need to be ingrained in your brand messaging.”
As both a company founder and communicator on social platforms, Beverley noted just how much the women of Gen Z are looking to her brands and their ambassadors, particularly for reassurance. To her, the key is setting out your core values and refusing to deviate, which breeds the all-important trust factor.
“When I started Tala, we laid out our core values – they were our first nine posts. We’ve never compromised those. That’s when you see the difference between performative [marketing] versus actual values. The fact that this is something the press still concentrates on is a shame. But, giving kudos to brands [who are socially responsible] does encourage that change in the social landscape, which is needed.”
Beverley concludes that it is, as ever, a balance between social and commercial interests. “How do we avoid capitalising on a pandemic, for example, while providing people with a service that we’ve always provided, that’s going to help them through this time? It’s all about communicating with your audience.”■