Skip to main content

"Gen Z: Redefining Authority" – APG event recap.

So...instead of a long preamble: I attended APG's "Gen Z: Redefining Authority" event on September 19, 2018 – and here's a summary with some moderate editorialising from my side (and of course apologies in case I accidentally misquoted anyone...).


Gen Z in a nutshell...





  • Born after 1995 (according to Flamingo, the cultural consultancy which organised the event; definitions will differ though depending on whom you're asking)

  • Will represent 32% of the global population in 2019

  • Consists of true digital natives – unlike Millennials who are closer to being "digital emigrants"


Gen Z isn't overtly averse to authority – but they do have certain expectations of those who are in authoritative positions.
Hence, they expect authority to...


  • Be "enforced by the community" (so it needs to be legitimate and democratic)

  • "Come from those who open and show their vulnerability"

  • Be "grounded in lived experience" (essentially a different way of saying "be authentic")

  • Be "shared between 'us' and 'them'" (so again, democratic and engaging)

  • Have "personal utility" (so it needs to be meaningful, and useful, to them


Though the speakers didn't state this explicitly, Gen Z's more comfortable relationship to authority (they're pretty different from the generation that participated in the 1968 protests) also suggests that they don't seem to see working with big brands as selling out, but rather as a way to drive change from within. This, of course, then begs the question if they actually do want to drive change from within or are more eager to get themselves into the system to enjoy the spoils...but that's getting close to the murky waters of non-verifiable hypothesis.




The bulk of the presentation was structured around this quadrant which Flamingo developed (pic below); essentially, brands should think about where they see themselves along the axes.



Some specific takeaways: 

  • On categorizing people into generations: "Generations are heuristics for change."

  • Advice for brands: "Be a caretaker of knowledge, not a gatekeeper."


The presentation was followed by a panel discussion with

General advice for brands vis a vis engaging Gen Z (from all the panelists):


  • Don't retrofit audience research

  • Every step you take adds to the character of your brand – so every action needs to be considered carefully since Gen Z is generally not forgiving of public figures' missteps

  • Don't try to be everything for everyone (viz. Pepsi ad fail)

  • "If you're commoditising authenticity, you're doing it wrong."



When brands make mistakes (as per Ife Grillo):


  • Be upfront – don't pretend it didn't happen

  • Apologize, and make sure you do it correctly since that will set the tone for the rest of the conversation

  • Be honest about why the mistake happened. Was it a fluke or the expression of a deeper issue within your brand or company culture? If it's the latter, Gen Zers are much less likely to forgive you.


From a marketing psych POV, Chloe Combi noted that for Gen Z

  • Parallel to the general openness and embracing of progressive values, there's a growth of a new, and very specific, conservatism (so not a lot of risky behaviours; not a lot of drugs and alcohol; very close relationships with their BFF parents)

  • This includes a "fetishisation" of childhood (only 00s kids will know), and a new type of social policing (though she didn't call this out directly, I assume this relates to the whole "coddling of the mind" theory)

  • There's a huge element of economic insecurity, and things that were taken for granted by previous generations, like home ownership and driving a car, won't be the norm for Gen Z

  • They want brands to be "nice," kind, and reassuring


For the generation after Gen Z (Combi calls them "Gen A"), she theorised that if the economy is stable as they grow up, they'll pick up on and propagate the best traits of Gen Z...which somewhat implies that if the economy doesn't turn out strong, they'll do the same for Gen Z's worst traits.
Finally, in terms of mental health and Gen Z, Grillo talked about how he thinks the conversation is growing (and people are more open about their issues) for two main reasons:


  • It's harder to hide as a result of our "social [media] omnipresence," which is exacerbating "constant social anxiety"

  • Because it's becoming a more widely discussed, we've been "forced to become more comfortable with [mental health issues]" – especially influencers "can't just show the fun part" of their lives with their communities without sacrificing their authenticity.


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Reading Raj Patel’s “The Value of Nothing” in an advertising context.

The more I read about the theory of advertising (which is plenty, thanks to my upcoming IPA Eff Test), the more it seems just inextricably linked to other disciplines.
Psychology and sociology are pretty much a given – the better we understand how people’s minds and social structures work, the better we can sell to them. But there’s also a huge economic dimension to advertising.
Specifically, so much of advertising relates to the process of value creation. Though my Comparative Literature course included ample Marx, Engels, Veblen, and Benjamin, it’s a concept that I’m still working to fully understand.
That’s why I was very happy to come across Raj Patel’s The Value of Nothing. At its core, it’s a fundamental examination of why things cost what they do – though it also goes far beyond that as the subtitle, “How to reshape market society and redefine democracy,” suggests.
One of the best parts is where Patel explains why “a burger grown from beef raised on clear-cut forest should really c…

Digested Read: How (Not) To Plan, Section 2.

Product, Price, Place!
Introduction
Marketers tend to focus overly much on Promotion, ignoring other three Ps.
2.1 Brands Can(not) Live Forever
"Brands don't have life cycles," a theory which the longevity of Heinz, Kellogg's, and Hovis apparently support.

"If there is any 'life cycle,' it's a brand management cycle."

Phase 1: Brand launch with strong marketing support and ROI.

Phase 2: Sales plateau – marketing needs to maintain and depend the brand and gets less management attention; budgets are cut.

Phase 3: The cuts lead to declining sales; brand owners retaliate with price promotions which deliver short-term sales but damage the brand image (further affecting sales).

The Boston Matrix of Cash Cows and Stars should be applied to categories, not brands.
Checklist

"Aim for brand immortality"
Always invest in continuous advertising [Comment: A recurrent theme]
Share and Voice and Share of Market can help you estimate how much you need to spend to …

Digested Read: How (Not) To Plan, Section 1.

New year = new ventures – in my case, this includes a series of digested reads, with a focus on ad strategy books. I'm kicking it off with the APG's How (Not) To Plan.

Firstly: the book is already a digested read, so this will be the super-distilled version. I'll tackle it section by section.

Section 1 is all about Setting Objectives.
Introduction
"Effective communication starts with agreeing with your clients what it's supposed to do. [O]ften, this stage is rushed, fudged, based on flawed thinking or skipped altogether."
1.1 How (Not) To Make a Plan
The authors talk about how "marketing objectives [...] have lost their grip on reality." However, "there is evidence from the IPA Databank that better objective setting leads to more effective campaigns. Best practice is to identify exactly what business results you want. And exactly what you need people to think, feel, and do to deliver those results." Also? "A campaign can't deliver unles…