Even as brands continue to chase Millennials, marketers are starting to shift their attention to the next generation — Generation Z. Born after 1995, this is a group that grew up in our social, mobile, and digitally-connected world.
There’s a lot of soul searching on how brands can can resonate with Generation Z. Emojis in particular are taking off, as brands try to tap one of the ways that Generation Z communicates. Coke created actual Emoji domains for a billboard ad campaign, IKEA created it’s own set of home emoticons, and Mentos released a set of “Ementicons” to share emotions like “FOMO” and “selfie-obsessed.” Many brands are now starting to drop in Emoji into their social media communication, adding winky faces to their posts.
Out of all of the emoji marketing, I most liked this communication from PETA:
Yet chasing Generation Z isn’t the right approach for every brand. Even more than Millennials, Generation Z were born with marketing B.S. detectors. Connecting with an audience is about more than aping their lingo. Generation Z will see right through Baby Boomer brands that suddenly sound young and hip.
The Wall Street Journal poked fun at Goldman Sachs for “acting like an awkward grandparent who’s just learning how to text” after this tweet:
How #millennials‘ life choices will reshape the #economy: http://t.co/GDzFHl9f8w
— Goldman Sachs (@GoldmanSachs) March 6, 2015
It’s an interesting marketing challenge how to evolve brands so that they stay relevant without losing their authenticity. And in the the rush to make brands hip to the youngest generation, there’s a risk in alienating or missing older generations.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on how brands should approach Generation Z.
(Marketoonist Monday: I’m giving away a signed cartoon print. Just share an insightful comment to this week’s post by 5:00 PST on Monday. Thanks!)
7 CommentsJoin the Discussion
I’ve seen brands start to use emojis in newsletter subject lines as well. (Eg. Best Buy, etc) and MailChimp and email marketing software now includes an emoji subject generator as well. But you’re right, you might miss the older generations who don’t do emoji.
The problem with brands starting to use emojis is confusing the language or the channel with relevance. Just like in previous generational changes, it’s the message and not only the way to deliver it that will make the difference.
Andy Last says
Like the points, Tom, and couldn’t agree more about the need for brands to be authentic and the awfulness of older brands coming over all young and hip. Interestingly, this generation are pretty sophisticated when it comes to brands and businesses – they can spot the marketing B-S a mile off as you say, but equally they’re happy for businesses to get involved in social causes, and to turn a profit out of doing so – http://www.salt-communications.com/generation-z/.
While communicating to Gen Z does pose a risk of alienating older generations, for some brands, that could be the exact goal and opportunity. I would love to see a brand put out advertising entirely in emojis so that only Gen Z could read it. Gen Z places a lot of value on privacy (partially why emojis have become so popular) so creating a sense of exclusivity could really resonate. They are also the most digitally and globally connected generation ever so might be apt to share this inside information with others they want in the ‘know’. A risky move but brands need to think differently in order to appeal to Gen Z. The pay-off of authentic advertising to this generation would be strong loyalty to brands that they think ‘get them’.
Nick Salyers says
Great post. It will be interesting to see how marketing to generation Z develops. I think that we will see some very creative advertising from brands with the goal of reaching generation Z. But in reference to the Goldman Sachs tweet. I think the tweet still works. Even though they might have missed generation Z with their tweet, “acting like an awkward [parent or] grandparent who’s just learning how to text” might be right in the sweet spot for GS, GS doesn’t need to reach generation Z just yet, but they do need to reach their parents and grandparents.
I agree with Nick on Goldman Sachs and if I were them, I would play off the “awkward grandparent” comment in WSJ and suggest when it comes to investing your money, maybe an old coot who lived through the depression knows a thing or two about stretching a dollar (from A-Z) and caring for others in need/99 percenters. This just might appeal to them 😉
“how to evolve brands so that they stay relevant without losing their authenticity”
This will force brands to focus on actual brand essence more so than creative execution. To remain authentic, brands need to remain true to what they stand for; then develop different communication campaigns / channels relevant to each audience.