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Here at Voxburner, we love to say it: young people are the future. Gen Z impacts every element of culture and, according to our friends at creative network Ogilvy, 16-24s make up 40% of global consumers and hold earnings of approximately $7 trillion. Tapping into these young consumers now will not only prepare your brand for the future, but will also ensure that you’re on top of trends, something that’s particularly important given the ever-changing climate, and help you make the most of these spenders.
With a sense of connectivity that is reaching never-seen-before speeds thanks to social media, creativity and collaboration are embedded within Gen Z’s culture, and working alongside these young people will help your brand to produce the most desired (and needed) products possible.
However, this is nothing new – on a trivial level, brands like Walkers have be doing these for years (think back to those times you’ve voted for their latest crisp flavours!), and there’s argument to suggest that this basic co-creation is no longer enough. With 66% of Gen Zers saying that it’s important for companies to value their opinions, young people are seemingly wanted to be involved in the creation of brands and products, and not just brought in to share their opinions deep into the creative process. As Ogilvy discovered, the traditional ‘develop-perfect-test-release-accept result’ is a slow and expensive process, and is also a risky one when it comes to Gen Z thanks to influential social media reviews.
Ultimately, it’s more important than ever before for your brand to not only involve Gen Z as soon as possible in the creative process, whether that’s in terms of building communities or products, but also to build a lasting bond with them – after all, you want them on side!
But where to start? Well, you’re in luck…
How to effectively co-create with Gen Z
1. Build a community WITH, not for, young people
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of communities out there all ready for Gen Z to join, and that’s great. But giving Gen Z a hand in constructing and building these communities will ensure that they cater exactly to their specific wants and needs. Giving them the opportunity to be involved in a democracy will ensure that they feel empowered, and will also make sure that the spaces they’re socialising work for both them and you. As Ogilvy put it: ‘Fostering a community rooted in shared goals and committing to its maintenance is fundamental to sharing and key to longevity with Gen Z.’
2. Help Gen Z navigate the new world
The world is changing, and Gen Z are dealing with new challenges all the time, whether it’s understanding the rising cost of living crisis or navigating post-pandemic working. Our Voxburner+ The Future of Work report explores how young people are shaping the future and taking the world of work into their own hands, but we can’t leave it all up to them. As discussed by Ogilvy, education systems aren’t giving young people the skills they need to in order to be prepared for and excel in these new and exciting creative spaces and industries. As a result, Gen Zers are taking to YouTube, TikTok, SkillShare and other online platforms in order to educate themselves – even when it comes to their personal finances (shout out to ‘finfluencers’).
As a brand, if you want to gain young people’s attention and trust, you need to be nurturing their creative talents and upskilling them. By giving them access to training courses, business resources, partnerships and other learning opportunities, you’ll not only help them, but yourselves too.
3. Embrace the world of Web3
Web3 is still a mystery to many, and it’s something we talk a lot about at Voxburner (check out some of the exciting sessions we have coming up at our YMS events which delve into this topic even further). Getting your head around Web3 is vital if you wanted to build a longlasting connection with your young audiences, particularly because these spaces are leaders when it comes to diverse and creative collaboration. With platforms such as Roblox enabling in-game shopping and event concerts, this is only just the beginning, and gaining an understanding of it now will lay important foundations for the future of your brand.
4. Get actively involved in important causes
As we discuss in our Voxburner+ Gen Z or Gen Green? report, it’s vital that your brand actively gets involved in the causes that young people care about in order to build a connection with them. Performative activism just doesn’t cut it with this generation, and they’re much more likely to think of your positively if you actively support the causes they care about. Ogilvy write ‘Youth see your brand, its employees, and its leadership as an active part of their conversation and social fabric’, and we couldn’t agree more – you need to be involved in these conversations in order to build their trust.
5. Reach out to micro-communities
When we think of social media for brands, our minds automatically go to the common platforms such as Instagram, TikTok and Twitter (just check out of Voxburner’s Guide to Social Media for info on how you can supercharge your strategies), but what about the smaller, inwards-facing platforms? Think Discord, Slack and Roblox, all of which appeal to smaller, niche and yet dedicated communities. Dubbed ‘digital campfires’ by Ogilvy, these micro-communities encourage Gen Zers to come together and share their experiences with one another without performativism or perfectionism and are ideal for building authentic, genuine connections between brands and audiences.
So there you have it – five key ways your brand can building last relationships with your young consumers. Now you’re ready for whatever the future (and the world of Gen Z) throws at you!
Like what you’ve read? Check out Ogilvy’s full playbook, For Gen Z, Brand Is What You Share, Not What You Sell, available now.
And don’t forget to join us at our world-renowned Youth Marketing Strategy events for the latest Gen Z insights, freshest ideas and invaluable networking opportunities. Find out more here.