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Social Native
Gen Z Hero

Generation Z - Who Are They in the Marketing World?

October 15, 2019

Stephanie Griffith

Gen Z’ers! You probably don’t need to ask who they are. Rather, their reputation precedes them (don’t they live on Instagram?). But who are they in the marketing world? A demographic you can’t ignore.

15 years ago, if you asked a classroom of children what they wanted to be when they grew up, it’s likely you would have heard the typical responses of ‘fireman’ and ‘doctor’, ‘astronaut’ and ‘lawyer’. 15 years later, if you asked the same kids (now teens and young adults) what they want to do for a living, you will probably be surprised by what you hear. That same class likely makes up a combination of aspiring ‘Instagram influencers’, ‘famous YouTubers’, or ‘professional video gamers’.

What happened in 15 years to change the trajectory so drastically? It’s a two-word answer...Social Media.

Born in 1995, I just miss the gap for generation Z (darn). But luckily, I have 6 younger siblings that fully encompass (and embrace) what it means to be a gen Z’er. My 22-year-old brother and his friends spend their free time filming their video game sessions, buying luxury streetwear apparel and hanging out in Calabasas (Kanye where you at?). As insignificant as this sounds, it’s not so insignificant in the marketing world.

By 2020, Generation Z will represent 40% of all consumers. Their buying power is strong, influencing about $600 billion in spending by others and a staggering 93% of household purchases. What does this mean for brands? Adapt . . . and adapt quickly.

Gen Z 01

With 45% of teens saying they are online almost constantly, a strong social media presence is a necessity for brands. But not just that...Gen Z’ers prioritize authenticity and would much rather see a real person in advertisements (no models welcome here). Traditional marketing just doesn’t cut it for them. The good news is...UGC content does.

According to Forbes, Gen Z consumers are much more likely to make a purchase if they see another friend sharing and supporting a brand or product. And with 44% of Gen Z’ers citing social media as a go-to source for product inspiration, it’s no surprise influencer marketing is the key to all things Gen Z.

Gen Z 02

Let’s take a look at a few real-world examples of how UGC and Gen Z go hand in hand:

Chunky sneakers were all the rave in the ‘90s, but went out of style as low-rise, flared jeans and platform sandals became popular. After a 20 year hiatus, it seems like the trend is back and flourishing among Gen Z -- scroll through Instagram today and you’ll see multitudes of budding fashionistas sporting a pair of chunky “dad” sneakers in every color and style.

Gen Z 03

Fila has been making sportswear since the beginning of the 20th century, long before chunky sneakers became fashionable. As a brand, they’re frontrunners on crafting the mix of athleisure and street style that is explosively popular among Gen Z. But it wasn’t just ‘90s nostalgia that allowed Fila to reclaim its status as a top brand in the late 2010s -- it was intentional, strategic, and smart marketing, made for the digital age.

Fila’s team leveraged the power of influencer marketing to create a sense of FOMO that truly rang in Gen Z’s ears. As a teen, being fashionable and cool is important. As a Gen Z teen, being fashionable and cool in your own way is important. So when Fila activated hundreds of different influencers to create hundreds of different looks with their shoes, they spoke to the generation that values individuality, diversity, peer-recommendations, and social media when making buying decisions. And it worked.

While Fila was in hibernation, Crocs was on the up-and-up. Crocs was a huge hit in the early 2000s, selling 50 million pairs of shoes a year by 2007. But in just one year, the brand lost its attractiveness to consumers and saw a staggering $200 million loss in 2008.

To regain popularity, their next marketing moves were very clever: as a brand, Crocs showed acute self-awareness and also a full understanding of what would pique the curiosity of the younger generation.

Crocs began building a robust influencer marketing strategy to show how their product could once again fit into consumers’ lives. With each new release of platform clogs, slides, or sneakers, they leveraged influencers to create the looks that went with the shoes. They relentlessly reminded consumers of their existence and that the shoes they made were evolving.

Gen Z 04            

In addition to micro-influencers, the brand collaborated with Balenciaga, a high-end brand known for its ironic take on fashion, and then with Post Malone, whose personality has become somewhat of a meme among Gen Z’ers, to capitalize on what people thought about Crocs: that they were bulky, uncool and too chunky. They took ownership of this perception and turned it into a fashion statement. Chunky shoes are in, and everyone’s wearing them. As of 2019, Crocs has reclaimed its place as a market leader, being ranked the 13th favorite brand among teens and is continuing on an upward trajectory.

Inspired by these brands? Well we sure are! We’ve learned to never underestimate the power of authentic content in the marketing world. In fact, we’ve created ‘The Uber of Content’ to help brands like these capitalize on influencer marketing. Reach out today to optimize your Gen Z targeted campaigns and become the next UGC success story.

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