Why you need to rethink market strategies for iGen

Published April 23, 2021, 10:37 a.m. by Stella Lindfors

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‘Generation Z’ or ‘iGen’ (born between 1996-2010) are projected to become the largest market for consumer goods by 2020. Being exposed to technology at such a young age has made them digital natives, giving them a different approach to buying. As a result, companies need to rethink their marketing strategies for iGen, so they can better reach this up-and-coming demographic. Spoon Helsinki’s Stella Lindfors investigates.

Over 90 per cent of iGen are consuming brand content on social media, according to a report by marketing agency Hill Holliday. Given their purchasing potential, it is vital to get a clearer understanding of how to target your marketing to reach these dynamic consumers.

Where to find the iGen

YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat are the three most popular online platforms, and these are an excellent place to begin if you want to connect with this generation, according to iGen members.

‘Snapchat is an easy and simple way to converse with my friends’, says Bella Middleton, a 16-year-old Londoner. ‘The fact that you can send photos, make group chats, read news and post stories provides a huge variety on what you can do, so you don’t get bored’.

What about Facebook? The world’s largest social network has less appeal for the younger set. Teenagers typically check their Facebook daily, but don’t post there as regularly as Instagram ‘because Facebook is where my parents hang out’, says 18-year-old Irene Candido from Italy, an avid Instagrammer.

Four marketing strategies for iGen, explained
In this era of fake news, iGen are particularly concerned about a company’s authenticity. It’s the first thing they look for. But being honest with your marketing isn’t the only way to attract these potential customers. Here are four tips for creating engaging, iGen-friendly content.

1. Values and individuality
A rash of false advertising and scandals have begun to eat away at the trust teens have with internet-based branding. As a result of this growing uncertainty, brands must start developing marketing based on values and individuality.

Lance Healy, 17, who is studying IB business in Hong Kong, says, ‘a unique selling point is an effective indicator of authenticity’. A distinct narrative can help a brand capture the attention and imagination of this up-and-coming demographic. Being the most media-savvy generation has given iGen the opportunity to be selective about where to spend their money.

A fully global economy driven by technology means that brands must compete for iGen’s attention on an international scale. This global spread of information has also made iGen hyperaware of the challenges facing the planet.

‘I want to know where my money is going and want the opportunity to spend my money in organisations that are environmentally friendly’, says Candido.

2. Influencers
A key strategy for promoting or establishing the authenticity of a brand is through social media influencers.A Google report found that 70 per cent of teenagers consider their favourite YouTube influencers far more relatable than traditional celebrities. Influencers appear more genuine because they provide a regular connection to their loyal followers. The content they produce typically outperforms that made by companies.

Having partner-based relationships with these media icons can be highly successful. The iGen have learned to subconsciously filter out #adstyle partnerships. These collaborations are perceived as contrived, and make the viewers ‘feel stupid and forced to buy an unwanted product’, according to Bella Middleton, who has admitted to spending at least four hours on Snapchat every day.

Don’t risk a superficial narrative; aim to cultivate iGen through sincere, long-term relationships with content creators to ensure the storytelling element that the iGen adore.

3. Bite-sized portions
The internet offers an infinite number of ways to entertain users, and iGen enjoy their entertainment — lots of it. The average attention span for a Millennial (born 1981-1996) is 12 seconds, and for iGen, that number has dropped to 8 seconds. In order to cater to this, marketers need to grasp the importance of concise text. Avoid information overload.

‘Most teenagers like to read a summary, so they get to the point quickly without getting bored’, says Healy.

Images and videos are a more engaging alternative to reach out to iGen. They are ‘more attractive and give an extra insight to form quicker judgements on a brand”, says Candido.

4. Uplifting content
Extensive social media use also has come with some unfortunate consequences for the iGen. These future consumers are reporting numerous detrimental mental health effects, such as sadness, anxiety and depression. This group has developed a distinct emotional state from previous generations that were not exposed to social media at such an early stage of their lives.

Candido, Healy and Middleton agreed that they have considered quitting social media, as it’s their biggest distraction — and they’re not the only ones. Sixty-four per cent of iGen say they’re currently taking a break from it, and 34 per cent claim they intend to quit social media altogether.

Brands can respond to this mental overload by creating positive and inspiring content that provide an escape. iGen are looking for material that indulges their need for escapism and also motivates them.