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Gen Z and Our Look on Social Media and Brands

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According to Forrester’s study and presentation at the MDMC 2017 Conference at Union Station, the group “Generation Z” is considered to fall between the ages of 18 to 27 years old. Being a Gen Z myself, I was excited to hear Jessica Liu’s keynote session about Gen Z and the way that brands try to reach this generation through social media. Her session started with a hot topic question, “Am I reaching Gen Z on social media, but more importantly, do they even care?” This question made me think, do I even care? And the answer is, yes.
Am I willing to engage with the brands I love on social media platforms, yes! For example, I have the Target “Cartwheel” app, their RedCard, and I’m a frequent Target brick and mortar shopper. I shop there for the experience, the feel of the environment, the friendly workers, the placement of their stores, and the items within that are so neatly organized. I have “liked” their Facebook page, followed their Instagram page, and downloaded their app.
Frequent women Target shoppers, or better known as, “Target Tigers”, I would classify as Social Stars or Social Savvies. Most of the individuals in my age bracket (Gen Z) are either Social Stars (I compare these people to the Kardashians, where they have to post every little detail about their lives) or Social Savvies who expect social interactions with the brands they love, and consider social tools as part of their everyday life.  According to Jessica and her findings with Forrester, “79% of gen Z are Social Stars (42%) and Social Savvies (73%).
Another hot topic question popped up during her presentation, “Is owning the BEST brand important to me?” Out of the Gen Z population tested, 43% approved this comment (Social Stars) and 22% of Social Savvies said yes to this question. Gen Z spends a lot less and is not as brand conscious as other generations. They tend to be open and receptive to brand interaction. Which opens the next topic to, where in the journey of a Gen Z consumer is social most important?
The answer is…the discover and explore stage. The customer life cycle is circular and consists of 6 stages. There is no end and no beginning. Discover, Explore, Buy, Use and Engage. Discover refers to social ads and word-of-mouth marketing tactics. The explore stage is to collect information on a purchase decision using website social tools (blogs, user-generated content and reviews, etc.). During the buy stage, customers typically don’t think of social media first. Use stage is when the customer is in awe of their purchase and excited to use it (user experience). Moving into the ask stage where customers ask questions via live chat and communities. Engage is the final stage where loyal customers engage with brands on social networks, social media feeds etc. This is a valuable way to learn about the brand and its products.  Discover and Explore are the most critical stages – 53% overall score  – Gen Z scores highest in the first 2 phases for marketers to focus on rather than the last 4 stages to make them buy.
While overall consumer social savviness is on the rise, Gen Z shows NO change – 79% show no growth! We (Gen Z) have reached saturation of brands on social unlike our peers.  People still use social most in the explore phase and least in the buy phase – Gen Z is no exception to this finding.  Jessica at Forrester suggests that all brands should have Gen Z help research for their brand and not just buy their brand. This makes sense to me, since most colleagues and friends my age are thrifty and money conscious.  I look at customer reviews, search the web and ask others before making medium to large purchases.  Marketers can use more social tactics to reach Gen Z across the board.

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Autumn Allen, Marketing and Events Coordinator

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