Millennials and Gen Z are challenging brand’s existing customer engagement strategies. It is well documented how differently the young use social media. Their hyper-connected lives is changing the way they consume information and subsequently how they are influenced and how they influence. Some research I was involved in recently showed that under 25 year-olds naturally, through their networks, create their own audiences. Some reach celebrity status for some of the things they do, say and think. In fact, this group were more likely to be influenced by a regular person “going viral” on their favourite network than a well known celebrity.

This fundamentally changes the mechanisms through which brands should engage the youth of today. A recent report cemented some of these initial qualitative findings. Here’s a snippet:

When it comes to content, younger Millennials and Generation Z are buying into an immediate unedited and raw stream of consciousness. There are big implications for brands when we think about connecting with an audience that claims they can respond to 40 snaps in a minute.

They go on…

“In a world where “likes” and “shares” are a genuine currency, brands need to consider how they can make today’s young people look good in front of their own audience”

As a result, brands have an extremely difficult task ahead of them. How do they engage with the young in a way that feels authentic to their current social context? If brands can help them become celebrities within their own networks then branded content or brand association is likely to feature much more and have more of an impact.

Implications for brands

In terms of where to start, there are some things that haven’t changed. The young are still mostly concerned with finding themselves, finding their people and finding their place in the world. For businesses that have developed a clear purpose and a strong narrative around their brand, there is a real opportunity to tap into these universal needs of the youth.

McCann – The Truth About Youth
Image: Brooklyn Morgan