As we entered the new decade, EventMarketer reflected on their top stories of 2019. Coming in first place was Kaylee Hultgren‘s coverage of how marketers are connecting with the elusive consumers of Generation Z. The cover of this story features the “Share Your Voice” wall from the NBCUniversal booth at VidCon 2019, produced by Mirrored Media. The painted wall was part of a larger booth that catered to the Gen Z segment and also featured E! News’ The Rundown, People’s Choice Awards, and NBC News Stay Tuned.
Marketers have had their sights set on engaging millennials for several years, but as Gen Z enters the workforce (and increases its purchasing power), all eyes are now on the younger demographic. Members of this generation grew up eating social media for breakfast. They watch “TV” on YouTube. And when it comes to events, they’re most likely to connect with environmentally-conscious brands and inclusive experiences. Oh, and the Instagram-bait museum? They’re over it.
The Gen Z target can’t recall a time without technology. Generally defined as those born during the late 1990s to the late 2000s, Gen Z is estimated to have a direct spending power of up to $143 billion in the U.S. alone, according to a recent Frost & Sullivan study. A new trend report, compiled by We’re Magnetic, digs into the characteristics and values that define Gen Z—open-mindedness, pragmatism, creative expression, ambition, healthy hedonism and innovation. Here, we explore the report’s “jumping-off” points for marketers, and what it means for your events.
1. Filters are out.
Gen Z consumers aren’t fans of “living-my-best-life” highlights and macro influencers. Nearly 80 percent of them instead trust a company more if the images they use are not photoshopped. They are looking for consistent and relevant content from companies (82 percent), and they trust a brand more if actual customers are used in its marketing.
2. Instagram museums are out, too.
Gen Z consumers aren’t falling for static, staged photo opportunities anymore. This generation wants to attend pop-ups and snap pics, too, but the key is to include personalization and allow younger consumers the opportunity to co-create with the brand from their unique perspectives.
3. Art is a passion point.
An interest for Gen Z, according to the report, is modern and urban art. So, strategic collabs and interactive and multi-sensory experiences are likely to attract this generation by appealing to their desire for creative expression. Think artist collabs, sneaker drops and exclusive fashion or merch at events.
4. Retail events are effective.
The majority of Gen Z consumers actually prefer to shop in-person, but they prefer retail environments that are more innovative, tactile, high-tech and interactive. Touching and testing the products is a priority for them, with 75 percent saying shopping in physical stores is better than shopping online. That said, they often take their recommendations from social media—the discovery of a brand is what takes place online.
5. You can bet on gaming.
Video game revenue in the U.S. exceeded $35 billion last year. And since Gen Z is fueling much of the growing popularity of gaming and esports, it behooves brands to embrace gaming culture in events with creative integrations, sponsorships and collabs. The Gen Z generation also enjoys the community aspect of gaming, which allows fans to gather IRL at events, tournaments and meet-and-greets—an area of opportunity for event marketers.
6. Inclusivity is important.
Almost 50 percent of Gen Z consumers identify as a racial or ethnic minority, making them the most diverse generation yet. It follows that brand marketing needs to be representative of that diversity if it’s to be taken seriously by this group. More than 60 percent of Gen Z consumers say they like seeing ads featuring diverse families.
7. Intimate festivals are a draw.
Gen Z consumers are ditching the elevated ticket prices at major music festivals for more affordable events that focus on a specific passion point or genre. Though they still love live music, additional interests include food and beverage, health and wellness, urban/modern art and extreme sports. They’re also receptive to events dedicated to a brand they feel devoted to.
8. TikTok is a preferred platform.
TikTok is huge with Gen Z. In fact, 41 percent of users are between the ages of 16 and 24. So, brands considering targeting this demo should consider building a presence there. The platform has a playful feel and is ideal for lighthearted and comedic content as opposed to the finely curated and filtered content found on other social platforms.
9. Co-creation with brands is in.
The majority of Gen Z consumers, 71 percent, believe that brands should help them achieve their personal goals and aspirations. Many of these folks also want to start their own businesses. To tap into this entrepreneurial spirit, brands can offer classes, workshops and networking events and even enlist them to co-create campaigns and product lines.
10. Shareworthy travel experiences are popular.
Gen Z consumers are willing to spend more for immersive, experiential travel, and they prefer to live like locals—particularly when it comes to food. A whopping 94 percent of Gen Z consumers said they research where to eat before they travel. This group also likes to pay it forward: Almost a third of them planned to give experiential holiday gifts last year.
11. Environmentally conscious-food is appreciated.
Three quarters of Gen Z consumers are willing to pay more for sustainable, “do-good” food. Brands that address issues like food waste, sustainable packaging and cellular agriculture will attract their attention. Consider serving socially-conscious food at pop-ups and events.
12. Lifestyle collabs are hot.
This demographic is more likely to shop brand collaborations—about two thirds compared to half of consumers overall. Luxury and streetwear collabs that produce items at attainable price points appeal to Gen Z consumers’ need for exclusivity. Streetwear collabs are still hot, but lifestyle, home/dorm and travel verticals are gaining in popularity.
13. Personalized product branding is in.
Gen Z consumers purchase products and services that highlight their identity. And 58 percent said they’d pay a premium for such items. Individualized products, experiences and rewards allow the generation to communicate their personal style through branded merchandise. Additionally, 42 percent said they enjoy designing their own products through technology like 3D printers.
14. Customization of personal avatars will continue.
A third of Gen Z consumers said they see no difference between their online and offline selves, and 35 percent say those selves are very similar. It follows that they are comfortable with digital projections of humans, or avatars like Bitmoji, which can be personalized with branded items.
15. AI combined with human interaction is preferred.
The fact that retail spend on AI will reach $7.3 billion by 2022 reflects younger generations’ expectation of personalization in shopping experiences. But customer service with a human touch remains important to Gen Z consumers. Brands employing AI in retail should still incorporate human interaction into an experience.
See this article, along with the rest of the Stories of the Year at EventMarketer.com