24 February 2023

Gen Z’s buying power is growing, how should marketers be speaking to the Social Video generation?

Gen Z are rapidly growing in consumer spending power and influence. How they consume media is distinct versus generations that have come before, as too are their shopping and buying behaviours. For instance, the majority of 18-25 year olds (a massive 97%) now use social media as their top source of shopping inspiration and the hashtag #tiktokmademebuyit has upwards of 2.3 billion views on TikTok. Chief Digital Officer Caroline Reynolds, explores these changing digital and buying behaviours that are only gaining more importance through the 3 updated key trends for brands below.

1. Reconsider how we think about Social Platforms

Gen Z has become synonymous with Social Media and TikTok in particular, in fact, according to Business Insider, by far the most time is spent within TikTok for 16-25 year olds – almost triple that of Snapchat or Instagram. However, when we also consider penetration, YouTube stands out in front with 93% (versus 78% on TikTok) of the Gen Z population. As the relatively new player, these engagement metrics explain why TikTok advertising growth is still increasing exponentially in the face of marketing spend challenges as brands seek to be present where this audience is.

Interestingly for brands too however, is the contrast of how these platforms are used by 16-25 year olds. For example, over 40% of Gen Z now turn to TikTok or Instagram before Google to ask for holiday destinations, restaurant recommendations and more as their search engine of choice. With that in mind we now need to consider how an SEO strategy typically developed for Google should expand across TikTok, Instagram and beyond. Similar shifts are happening within messaging, news and shopping destinations too.

To understand when and where brands should show up across this platform mix, it’s key to note that 80%+ of Gen Z expect brands to join the conversations they care most about. For example, recent GWI analysis shows that 40.9% of Gen Z are worried about climate change and want to be present on TikTok as the sustainable educators who have been using the platform to share sustainable fashion tips, sustainable beauty product hacks and ways to curb climate change. They are turning to more sustainable brands and have become more curious as to where and how products are being made with 66% prepared to pay more for a sustainable brand. You can use hashtag trends within the platform itself as well as TikTok’s insights for business tool to uncover live trends by market and audience with which to shape your content and conversation.

2. Be prepared to think Video-first (& to sometimes break the rules):

There has been a tectonic shift in video consumption in line with the platform engagement we saw above. For brands to reach this audience, authentic, online video is critical and paying attention to platform best practices will drive the best results. For example, for this attention-short consumer group, shorter is usually better – indeed a recent Yahoo study found that Gen Z loses active attention after 1.3 seconds which explains why the dominant ad format on Snapchat is 3-15 seconds. We recommend using (and defining your own) benchmarks for video consumption and to develop native content tailored to each platform for maximum results.

However sometimes breaking the rules can pay off. Hilton’s #HiltonStayFor10minutes campaign recently launched, offering TikTok-ers the chance to win 10,000,000 Hilton Honors Points if they stayed for the full ad.  At 10 minutes long the ad is right at the upper limit of TikToks video ad length and significantly longer than the recommended 21 – 34 video spot length. But despite that, the ad went viral as soon as it launched and proved that with the right creativity (and reward) brands can capture the attention of the “fast scroll generation” with longer-form ad content.

3. Capitalise on the Commerce opportunities where Gen Z are most engaged

For many D2C brands, the added imperative of capitalising on Gen Z behaviours, is the growing Shoppable platform capabilities within the Social environments they are most active within. As this digitally native group grows in spending power and online engagement share, brands who can think Gen Z-first will stand to benefit the most.

This is particularly true now that we’ve seen TikTok become joint leaders with Facebook in the percentage of US shoppers buying on their platform. Driven mostly by their shoppable capabilities rolling out and becoming fully operational, this is a key moment for brands to capitalise on growing Gen Z TikTok usage to drive business return.

And what’s perhaps even more powerful for brands seeking to drive product discovery across this audience, is that platforms such as YouTube and TikTok invite participation. Enabling Gen Z to like, comment and share, speaks directly to their desire to create not just consume content – in fact 83% of TikTok-ers have created their own video content themselves. And this UGC content has the power to transform the traditional marketing funnel by allowing your customers to directly power your brand.