Recently, Maestro Media Group was invited to Savage.Z, a marketing conference in Berlin, Germany. The event was specifically focused on the Generation Z audience featuring some of the world’s biggest brands such as TomorrowLand, Huawei and ESL. A lot of brands are struggling to get a clear grasp on how to appeal to this new target demographic, frequently quoted as the “unreachable” generation.
However, brands like the ones mentioned above have adjusted their approach to marketing to align with these future consumers. These brands have taken the time to understand Generation Z and figure out what appeals to them. As a result their captivating and most successful marketing campaigns awaited our eager ears at Savage.Z this year. At Maestro, we’ve decided to compile the key points that caught our attention and what we think will be imperative to focus on going forward. So, here are our four main takeaways from this Generation Z marketing event:
1. Humble beginnings
Repeated constantly throughout our time in Berlin were three words authenticity, originality and creativity. For the brands that continue to make excuses as to why they cannot capture the attention of the digital natives:
- Does your brand have a well-explained journey?
- How was your company formed?
- What values does it have and always reinforce?
These aspects of your organisation matter and they matter a lot.
“You have to have stories as a company and mean it, otherwise they will see through you”. – Eva Wimmers (President – Huawei Honor Europe)
Being thorough in your explanation of your company’s history and background is important. It gives the consumer an entrance into your world and how you operate. Especially as we are in a world where relationships and connections are becoming more brief and superficial. Having depth and making room to be meaningful to consumers can pay off big time. The motivating and inspiring stories from a brand are what every future consumer can get behind and champion. So, ditch the one-liner in the “About Us” section and aim to create purpose and vision that Generation Z want to be a part of.
2. Get closer to GenZ with sub-brands
Sub-brands can be extremely beneficial when your primary brand’s focus isn’t to be ‘down with the kids’. For some primary brands Generation Z is not their target demographic, but on the other hand they will be their future consumers. So, what can they do? They can introduce a new set of products or services with GenZ in mind. Plus, there is always the option to potentially collaborate with another brand.
For global brands they purchased smaller companies for example, Nike Inc., bought Converse back in 2003. Nike used Converse’s classic shoe brand to boost their sales for the lifestyle/casual sneaker, whilst still attracting a younger audience with no interest in sports. During our time at Savage.Z we heard from Huawei’s sub-brand Honor. The Chinese telecommunications company created Honor to target Generation Z and millennials. Although it is part of Huawei, what separates Honor are the completely different marketing tactics, portfolio development and designs. Sub-brands give you the option to start brand development from scratch with the younger generations in mind. Here, you can think of what your brand will stand for and what key influencers you can work with to make sure your brand has the biggest impact on the consumer base.
One thing worth stating with the Honor brand is the fact it is an e-brand. Meaning that the brand management is all done via the internet and not traditional mediums for marketing such as billboards and other print. When it comes to the product development process, Honor allows their community to have a significant vocal impact on their decisions. Their community is handed a lot of power in terms of the product aesthetics. Votes were used within the community to decide on the colours of upcoming mobile devices. It is never a bad idea to have a sub-brand to reach out and get closer to a demographic you were struggling to attract previously. Huawei’s approach of having a sub-brand is leading to great results in western markets. Honor have since increased sales and revenue by 300% between 2015 and 2017, becoming the leading smartphone e-brand for Western Europe.
3. Double down on a social media platform
When appealing to GenZ there are specific social media platforms where they spend a lot of time. But, it is how they interact with said platform that really matters. GenZ typically spend time on platforms such as Snapchat, Instagram and YouTube. These social media platforms have very different purposes. Deciding to double down on one in alignment with your marketing strategy can prove hugely beneficial. Now this is not to say only promote via one platform, of course that wouldn’t be a very good course of action to appeal to masses of digital natives. However, focusing on one, more than the others is critical. It allows you to adjust your strategy in a single direction to stay efficiently on track.
An excellent example of company that doubled down on a single platform was the clothing brand Zadig&Voltaire. This brand has grown significantly in the last few years. A big success for them was their recent marketing campaign “Girls can do anything” which was targeted at young women in the GenZ age range. Their campaign managed to broadcast this message while being perfectly balanced. It wasn’t overly political, then on the other hand it did not come across as bandwagoning and seemingly artificial. After analysis Z&V decided YouTube would be their main platform of choice for this campaign. Why?
“YouTube is a place where people spend a lot of time. People actually watch YouTube and they watch it for more than 30 seconds”. – Anthony Hymes (Digital Activation Manager – Shiseido Group)
This very straightforward statement explains it all, people go to YouTube for long-form content. The French brand aimed to capture the full attention of their audience. YouTube requires eyes and ears, it isn’t a platform where users mindlessly scroll through or briefly check. Consumers go to watch YouTube with acres of time to be engaged and marketed to. Zadig&Voltaire knew this is one of the platforms where GenZ are most influenced and immersed. Not only did they create videos, they worked with popular influencers in their respective countries and made sure they aligned with their brand values. Their campaign’s lead content was in video form, so it made a lot of sense to go in this direction. On other platforms they featured a spin the bottle game, with the bottle matching their newly released perfume. A genius decision. It is a quick and easy to engagement tool for consumers that aren’t used to waiting. For your brand it’s important to choose which platform to go all-in on. Every platform has its advantages and disadvantages, analyse the behaviour on your current social media channels. If people are spending a lot of time engaging on your Instagram then focus on creating the best photos to encourage interaction. The same can be said for Snapchat. In addition to this, when it comes to building relationships, Facebook is one of the best tools as it allows for more conversation.
4. Create meaningful partnerships
Meaningful partnerships are very effective for both parties. Especially for companies aiming to appeal to GenZ that may be considered ‘boring’. A lot of so-called boring companies are having an extremely tough time capturing the younger generation’s attention. In all fairness, when selling a handy pack of tissues it’s difficult to make your pack more exciting than another one. One of the best approaches to tackling this issue is to create a meaningful partnership. First, it is important to decide what area you would like to focus on to promote your product or service. Above all, these must be in popular topics of interest for GenZ such as gaming, esports (competitive gaming), fashion and technology. Maybe your company already has a partnership with a company based around such topics.
At Savage.Z this year, attracting GenZ was a challenge logistics company DHL faced. One of the most popular delivery services on the planet, did not know how to actively draw in consumers from this age range. Then again, appealing to teenagers isn’t something that keeps a logistics company awake at night. Nonetheless, they had no idea what was coming next, until they decided to fully utilise a partnership. DHL worked closely with esports tournament organiser, Electronic Sports League (ESL). ESL currently use their services to deliver their equipment to various event locations around the world. The esports tournament organiser’s are already heavily engaged with the millennial and GenZ audiences. They promote a lot of brands in their events and now DHL wanted a piece of the pie.
But, how do you make logistics appealing to GenZ? How do you create this ‘meaningful partnership’? DHL decided to promote their services in an esports tournament for the game DotA2 held by ESL in Birmingham (UK). However, this wasn’t in the way that you’d expect. In DotA2 when a player buys an item a courier comes to deliver the item to your in-game character. Well, the rest is history. During the tournament the in-game courier service had now changed to full DHL branding for more than thousands of Generation Z eyeballs to focus on with no competitors in sight. Combined with having a well-known streamer from DotA2 dressed as a DHL deliveryman walking around the arena, it was only a matter of time until the crowd were chanting ‘DHL’.
In the minds of GenZ, DHL went from being just a delivery service to one that mattered in a blink of an eye. They cared, because DHL cared about DotA2 and interacting with them on their terms. All while managing to promote themselves in one of the most authentic ways possible and not via generic digital banners.
These were all highly effective ways to engage with the consumers of tomorrow, that paid off greatly for the brands involved. Spend a lot of time talking about why your business exists, including the good, the bad and the ugly. Build an appropriate sub-brand in order to get closer to them if your primary brand isn’t appealing enough. Use many social media platforms, but, choose the most explosive one so it consistently produces results for your brand. Develop worthwhile partnerships and think outside the box about them, the partner may know much more about how to appeal to such an audience. DHL’s fantastic outcome was a result of them letting go of the reigns and giving ESL room to come up with innovative ideas.
With deeper investigation you’ll find other companies with similar successes such as BIG (Berlin International Gaming), TomorrowLand and Deutsche Telekom. Discussed throughout this post were the four takeaways Maestro found to be vital when marketing to GenZ, all from attending this year’s conference in Germany. It was a real pleasure for us to be invited to Savage.Z and hear great examples along with actionable insights. The team hopes you have found our compilation useful. Let us know which one was most helpful to you.
Be sure to follow: Savage Int for details about their upcoming event Savage Marketing 2019 in June. Also, drop us a follow or slide into our DMs for helpful information on marketing to millennials, Generation Z and in the esports industry.