How would Gen Z influence the PR industry?
Since 2018, the unique Gen Z (the generation born between 1997–2012) has blown a breath of fresh air into the world.
In Vietnam, Gen Z is the author behind various trendy videos and dance challenges on Tik Tok. Many Gen Zers have become macro KOLs with many followers like Jenny Huynh, Chao, Le Thuy, etc. despite their young age. On a global scale, the world-famous singer Billie Eilish is also a member of Gen Z.
Gen Z is the trendsetter behind the “yellow duck avatar” challenge that stirred up Vietnam’s Facebook community back in August 2021. (Note: The “yellow duck avatar” trend initiated when a Gen Zer uploaded a tricky math problem on Facebook. Those who gave the wrong answer must change their profile picture into the silly yellow duck.)
To get into Gen Z’s world, you have to speak their language and use their slang words.
These are some examples to demonstrate the influence and trendsetting ability of Gen Z in Vietnam. Everything belonging to Gen Z can easily go viral on social media.
Therefore, brands need to understand the unique characteristics of Gen Z to build their brand image in the eyes of the future generation.
How to appeal to Gen Zers? First, Gen Z is tech-savvy and prefers online interaction.
Unlike Millennials (or Gen Y) who grew up while uncovering new information technology development, Gen Z:
- was born into the already advanced digital world,
- owned smartphones since their early days,
- grew up while being exposed to social media.
As they’re familiar with social media, Gen Z often relies on electronic devices and indirect communication methods (emails, text messages). According to OMD & Decision Lab’s Genzilla survey, 50% of Gen Z often use chat to keep in touch with their friends, while only 30% feel comfortable with face-to-face interactions, and phone calls only account for 7%. This suggests that Gen Zers might not be fond of old-school street marketing or community involvement. Brands should consider this and map out PR activities that appeal to Gen Zers. This further emphasizes the role of social media and online engagement to reach them while they’re cocooning in their personal space.
In addition, brands should also diversify their content formats, such as short videos, interactive content and gamification are also good ideas worth considering. But keep in mind that Gen Z is very demanding in the content they consume. Commercialized or promotional content is not enough to keep you on their mind unless sale promotion is a strategic part of your business (like e-commerce platforms). What Gen Z wants is authentic and fun content. This challenges PR professionals to align branded content with the audience’s interest. That’s why user-generated content (UGC) is on the rise as one of the most prominent solutions.
Second, Gen Z cares a lot about social issues.
Following Millennials’ footsteps, Gen Z’s members are also responsible citizens. According to Deloitte’s 2021 Global Millennials and Gen Z Survey, climate change/environmental protection is one of Gen Z’s top concerns. Other issues on their mind include unemployment, healthcare/disease prevention, education, sexual harassment, crime, personal safety, corruption, equality, and economic development.
Gen Z’s concerns for social causes are also reflected through their shopping behaviors. When making a purchase decision, Gen Zers are not simply buying a product or service, but they also look into ethical practices of the brand and could refuse to purchase from companies that get caught up in scandals. According to a recent survey on Gen Z (born between 1995–2015) consumer behavior conducted by McKinsey in collaboration with Box1824, 70% of respondents said that they tried to buy products from ethical companies; 80% denied to purchase from companies that were involved in scandals. Nowadays, a simple claim is not enough. Companies need to demonstrate their ethical commitment through CSR activities and business practices.
In the modern world, many brands are displaying their social belief through brand activism. However, brand managers should decide to which extent should they react. Getting involved too deeply with brand activism can backfire when the brand’s value clashes with its audience; or when the consumers find out that the brand is only paying lip service, like in the case of Starbucks’ Race Together, or Gillette’s The Best A Man Can Be. And above all else, remember to be consistent and stick to your claims.
Third, Gen Z are independent and prioritize individualism
Compared to previous generations, the majority of Gen Z prioritize living true to their core values. Gen Z doesn’t mind what others think or judge about themselves. Rather than that, they focus on keeping the values and perspectives that they’ve set their hearts on.
Therefore, when joining the workforce, Gen Zers are bringing their life values into the workplace and influencing work cultures, such as promoting integrity, transparency, work-life balance, and mental health issues.
With these characteristics, PR campaigns that highlight personalized messages and promote self-esteem will be more likely to win the audience’s interest.
To sum up, Gen Z’s influence and purchasing power will continue to rise as they join the workforce. Brands need to look out for Gen Z’s characteristics such as being tech-savvy, independent, concerned for social issues, preferring online interactions, etc. to plan and execute appealing PR activities.
Hanh Le, Assistant to Managing Director at EloQ Communications, a leading PR and marketing agency in Vietnam. Hanh is supporting EloQ in connecting and maintaining relationships with partner agencies in Asia and other global PR networks to execute global projects, as well as to leverage service quality in the communications industry.
Originally published at https://blog.eloqasia.com on March 1, 2022.