yThe trend to characterise and stereotype entire populations of people based on their year of birth can be the marketing equivalent of astrology.
It’s important to keep a sense of perspective – individuals and sub-groups will have extravagantly different characteristics – whether they are Boomers, Gen Z , Millennials or Gen Z.
Each generation has specific concerns based on their experience of the world from technology to political influences. Members of every cohort will be influenced by the same factors to a greater or lesser extent – but the current generation will have had a far more concentrated dose and will be the canaries in the coal mine for social shifts ahead. They have the greatest vested interest in the future – so we need to pay attention to their characteristics, wants and needs; because they will shape and influence the society we will live in. Just as baby boomers were the first generation to be described as teenagers – with a rebellious attitude that horrified their traditionalist parents, Gen Z demand to heard and have the most at stake in a future with climate change and sustainability issues pressing down on them. Ignore them at your peril.
Who are GenZ?
GenZ is a term that describes people born between 1994 and today. They are the sequel to the cohort known as Millennials, who have been fetishised by marketers in recent years.
GenZ has been subject to myths and stereotypes such as: they have an 8 second attention span, they are addicted to their screens and personal devices, they are more entrepreneurial and, boy, do they love a cause. A survey of the literature by BBDOKnows* suggests it might be time for a debunking or at least a closer look at Gen Z and their likely impact on society – though obviously with a close eye on marketing and consumption.
Follow the money.
GenZ will represent 40 percent of the global population by next year. They will have a $143bn(US) direct spending power; $127bn spent on them by their families; $333bn indirect influence on household expenditure. That means they will soon be the most powerful global consumer group.
GenZ have been heavily influenced by being the first cohort born into a world with the Internet and connective technology – but also into a world of ‘instability, poverty, recession and corruption’ (according The Drum – 2016). They distrust large corporates and government.
Attention span of a goldfish?
Rather than being the generation of ‘Blink, share, laugh and forget’- it may be that Gen Z are more discerning, used to reading and evaluating fast…they aren’t obsessed with contiunal stimulation – on the contrary they are paying attention to ‘the long game’ including their financial wellbeing. In the UK a study by Kantar.com revealed 66% plan to put money away for their family’s future. 62 percent are constantly striving to improve their abilities and self-improve; 71 percent say they look for new experiences and sensations (vs. 58 percent of global adults) – they are eager to learn through discovery.
Far from being gormless screen addicts Gen Z use the web and social platforms for news, inspiration and discussion. They’re well informed, thoughtful and equipped to take control of their own world and the world around them. They are possibly more careful with their use of social media – more likely to self-censor; they don’t want to express offensive views; in their spare time 57 percent say they are developing. Skill sets and professional currency. They are more likely to define themselves by their values and interests rather than class, race or sexuality.
The entrepreneurial urge
Unlike previous generations Gen Z would rather work for themselves than for a large business, they distrust traditional structures and have seen their parent’s vulnerability to corporations. They express quite conservative values (contingency planning and self-reliance) – but they are open-minded about what their future employment might look like.
There’s a perception that Gen Z just love a cause – but it’s more nuanced than an idealised view of the world. 67 percent of US Gen Zs have stopped buying from companies who stand for something or behave in a way that isn’t aligned to their values. They distrust brands that target them through ‘purpose branding’ and have a highly discerning filter that is attuned to authenticity. But beware – brands that espouse their authenticity without walking the talk will be rejected by GenZ. The terms ‘authentic, craft, artisinal and legacy are considered irrelevant by 72% of UK Gen Z. 82 percent prefer genuinely helpful products and sustainable brands and a colossal 94 percent believe companies have a duty to address critical issues – they want and expect solutions.
In a nutshell:
1. Definitions of Gen Z differ but essentially, they are the upcoming consumer group after Millennials.
2. Their huge spending power means that they are beginning to dictate how brands behave.
3. The context in which they have grown up – of political, global instability and extreme technological change – have inevitably shaped the way they view the world.
4. They are four myths which are often discussed in relation to Gen Z as a result – that have short attention spans, are addicted to screens, have entrepreneurial spirits and love a cause. A different way of looking at them is that they have a discerning filter and are playing a long game, are personal brand managers, have conservative values, and don’t like purpose for purpose’s sake.
6. Gen Z crave control over their surroundings, and brands need to consider how they are giving Gen Z control over their lives.
7. This can be through either helpful products/services, or helpful brands.
8. Essentially, Gen Z need to know what your product does for them and why they should buy into it,
9. In other words, the product needs to be designed for their needs and the brand needs to enhance their personal brand.
If you would like a copy of the full BBDOKnows report: Debunking the myths of Gen Z -get in touch.
*BrandWorld is a member of the BBDO network of companies.
One of the most pressing demands on marketers these days is the demand from finance and procurement departments to deliver a demonstrable return on marketing investment (ROI). It is the new reality. In simple terms R.O.I. is the calculation of profits minus costs, divided by costs – which should deliver a percentage figure.
There are issues with ROI that its critics delight in pointing out – one of the most significant issues is that it encourages short term thinking. Advertising often has an effect on consumers long after they are exposed to a message. Even in the Internet era sane people don’t jump online to order a packet of Gingernuts as soon as they see an ad promoting them. Advertising relies on memory – especially in categories like FMCG. So the metrics of success of a long running campaign are often incalculable – or results cant be necessarily be attributed to the most recent expression of a brand’s communications.
Percentages often don’t paint a clear picture. Prof Byron Sharp says “…ROI takes attention away from the actual return, in dollars. It’s the size of actual return that matters to shareholders…what matters is how effective it is, not how efficient it is. An ROI of 150 percent on a million dollar campaign is $500,000, while an amazing 500 percent ROI on a $10,000 campaign is still only $40,000.) This effect tends to encourage smaller campaigns and encourage cutting marketing expenditure…it’s possible to deliver infinite ROI by slashing advertising to zero.’
Even accounting for our obvious bias – we don’t recommend this strategy – in the current marketing environment it makes sense to pulse activity throughout the year. Even Prof Sharp recommends avoiding flamboyant campaign launches then retreating to your planning cave to ‘plan’ your next blockbuster launch. As a general principle it makes more sense to divide your budget roughly by 12 months and be mentally available to your customers throughout the year – stimulating salient memories as they make their choices. This can reconcile the ‘short-termism’ argument with brand growth. Our Oxygen™ campaign model follows this approach – which has been successfully deployed by Kellogg’s New Zealand. According to Frankie Coulter, marketing manager at Kellogg’s this approach has delivered exceptional ROI for the featured brands with sales and market penetration increasing to reverse a long trend of decline.
Many of our clients engage BrandWorld to undertake specific, tactical programmes and promotions with a clear beginning and end. Not short sighted – but with specific tasks to be achieved. Our highly effective communication model makes it simple for them to improve their ROI, build brand health while growing sales, market share or warm leads.
Another aspect of ROI measurement that is often forgotten is the cost of the time and personnel inputs – our systems reduce the number of moving parts in any campaign to maximise your ROI and leave nothing to chance.
Return on marketing investment (ROMI) has become a hot topic – as more marketing departments are putting more emphasis on justifying marketing expenditures. ROI can be something of a blunt instrument though – if it only measures the revenue earned from individual campaigns, relative to their hard costs. There are also subtle – and often forgotten measures of ROI. Without a clear reading all of the inputs it is like flying a plane taking readings of altitude and speed without factoring in wind speed and direction - or how much fuel it will take to reach your destination.
At BrandWorld, In our dealings with marketers from across a wide spectrum – ranging from health and FMCG to financial services – we have noted that one of the most pressing issues confronting our clients is the demands that the marketing process makes on their time. As a result we have developed systems and processes that are lighter and more agile.
If you are the kind of marketer with a job to get done and done right first time…you’re in the right place. Our unique, systematic approach and deep expertise in categories like health and FMCG has helped hundreds of great brands predictably exceed objectives - reaching more people with more salient, more accessible ideas with less fuss, less cost and more certainty…and a greater return on marketing investment. Which kind of eliminates the need for lucky charms.
The debate about the effectiveness of broadcast television continues to swirl, but it seems the biggest tech companies on the planet are turning to TV for its reach and ability to engage human emotions - here's a recent report from ThinkTV
In the UK, Christmas 2018 saw a significant amount of TV brand advertising for online brands. Amazon, Google, eBay and Uber spent £15m in December alone, and there were many other online brands using the power of TV for mass reach of consumers. Digital brands and Big Tech companies have increased spend on proven media in the UK for the last five years, a trend being seen globally too.
The Big Tech companies have been major investors in TV, both in the UK and in U.S.A. These days, even Facebook advertises on TV, in fact in the U.S.A, out of thousands of advertisers, Facebook was the 72nd largest spender on TV in 2018 (meanwhile Google was the 21st largest spender).
Here in New Zealand, large internet and e-commerce companies* are among the biggest spenders on television, investing around $33 million on television last year, representing 80% of their advertising budgets**. Clearly, for online brands in particular, which have little or no physical presence, TV’s ability to create emotional connections with large audiences is vital.
*Trivago, Webjet, Expedia, Harmoney, My Food Bag, TradeMe, Amazon
**Nielsen Advertising Information Services – ratecard, April 2018-March 2019
“So, what’s going on? These are the very companies that are reputed to understand advertising effectiveness in exquisite detail. With their rich data and world-leading analytics, we might have expected them to focus on data-driven sales activation media. Isn’t TV the medium they are advising others is a waste of money?
Quite why they do this when the overwhelming body of effectiveness evidence points to the opposite conclusion, is increasingly an enigma. Clearly Big Tech are looking more objectively at what works: despite having access to advanced digital tools and data, these companies choose to put ever more money into traditional advertising media.
Seems they’ve worked out for themselves that online businesses need offline advertising, and they especially need the extraordinary brand-building powers of TV”
Peter Field and Les Binet; News and Opinion, Thinkbox April 2019
Our friends and colleagues at ColensoBBDO have developed an idea in the wake of the tragedy in Christchurch to help prevent the spread of inappropriate material on the web related to the disaster. Let's hand the mic over to them to explain the idea:
I thought I’d circulate something we’ve been working on over the course of last week in the wake of Friday’s atrocities.
Based on the truth that terrorism is mass murder with a media strategy, and following Jacinda’s address where she pledged to never speak the individual’s name responsible - we’ve launched Share No Evil.
It’s a digital tool designed to starve this individual the oxygen he needs to survive. Exposure.
It’s a chrome extension that once embedded in your browser, will replace any reference to this individual in any search or news article with the words blacked out: ‘Share no evil’.
His name will never be seen again.
It’s open source, so we’ll be inviting the world’s developer community to contribute to it and broaden its application to ensure that the extension can block more content in future. Photos, links to manifestos, and content in general that’s designed to promote extremist ideals and recruit followers.
We want the utility to be used and powered by the people of NZ and the world. And, we want brands and partners to support it too. To date, Spark, Vodafone and 2Degrees have got on board, and TVNZ are about to follow suit.
The icon is based on the proverbial three wise monkeys – See no evil, Hear no evil, Speak no evil – and we’ve developed a fourth.
It’s a small thing we hope will begin to make a difference, today. We’re simply putting the user in control.
There’s a suite of tee shirts, phone stickers and press going out as we speak and we’re hoping it gets some exposure and creates conversation around making the sharing of this type of content socially unacceptable in Aotearoa.
If you’d like tees or stickers – let me know.
Please join us to kick-start the chat on social and - if you feel it’s appropriate, circulate to your agency.
You can install the tool at www.sharenoevil.co.nz
Grab the wise monkeys gif
Or use one the stills here on this page
And add a line if you like:
“ #ShareNoEvil is a movement to make sharing terrorism content culturally unacceptable in Aotearoa ❤️ ”
“I’m starving terrorism of the oxygen it needs to survive #ShareNoEvil”
“Finally! A way to remove this <expletive’s> name online. Blocked by #ShareNoEvil”
“@jacindaardern promised to never speak the NZ terrorist’s name. Same. #ShareNoEvil.”
“Terrorism is mass murder with a media strategy. #ShareNoEvil”
“??? #ShareNoEvil updates an ancient proverb for the Internet. Swipe up / link in bio.”
We hosted forty top marketers at BrandWorld HQ for a discussion about the significance of trends in grocery and in media. David MacGregor of BrandWorld led with light-hearted look at some of the issues facing marketers and questioning slavish devotion to the next shiny thing. We followed with a panel discussion facilitated by BrandWorld managing director Richard Stevens with industry leaders Josette Prince and Gerry Lynch.
BrandWorld Live will be a regular event. A great opportunity to hear new thinking, meet your peers in marketing and share expertise.
If you are interested in joining us for the next event - get in touch with Cameron Harper…and Leave Nothing To Chance™
We've invited some of New Zealand’s most experienced marketers for conversation about how trends will affect the FMCG sector in the near future.
We’ll discuss whether we can we still rely on assumptions that have influenced marketing decisions of the past, and will put the conversation in the context of the realities of contemporary marketing management – such as shrinking budgets contrasting with increasing performance requirements.
Also discussed will be balancing innovation with the mitigated risk of proven approaches.
OUR EXPERT PANEL
We live in the friction-free era. Social media channels have created an arena of endless free expression around our own identity. Anyone with a smart-phone or a modest camera can, potentially, attract the attention of millions. Whether the object of attention is a sub-culture of voguing, unboxing technology products or obsessive compulsive vehicle detailing – anyone can project their identity across the world. Communities of affinity can form around the most banal of subjects – some groups are small while others can rival the viewer numbers of a television network – but without the inhibitions of cost or corporate hierarchy.
Personal identity issues have been undergoing a ‘big bang’ but it seems as though brands have been experiencing a kind of entropy – a seismic shift towards the centre. Many brands project the same or similar messages about themselves into the market. How they communicate through advertising and design reflects tropes and clichés – often beautifully crafted (thanks to the availability of graphic design and video production technology and vast numbers of both self-taught and educated designers – who learned from an internet echo chamber where certain styles and approaches have been up-voted to become norms). Think of how many ads show people transitioning through life stages but continue to be served by a brand that recognises their needs at different stages of life.
Identity is a crucial aspect of marketing. Like so many other marketing elements it is rooted in an inherent human truth. We want to recognise and be recognised, to fit in and stand apart. It’s fundamental.
In the current era Identity has been feted as one of the significant social trends.
In politics the issue of partisan identity has become a serious and counterproductive problem, aptly illustrated by the United States’ government being polarised and divided along party lines, like trench warfare - undermining the plural truth of the wider society.
Identity also informs the issue of diversity. People are clamouring to be reasonably represented and their voices heard, regardless of – or sometimes because of, their gender, ethnicity, age, ability, sexual orientation and other perspectives and traits.
Identity is one of the most important issues in today’s marketing canon.
If you look at the craft beer section of your supermarket you are going to see an astonishing line up of beautifully designed bottles and cans, each projecting a brand story that reflects two things.
First, you can’t try before you buy – there is an element of risk – if you like the graphics you might like the beer.
Second, the category is populated by hip people who want to be seen as more hip, or knowing the arcane truth about brewing and enjoying artisanal, crafted products better than anybody else – and that leads to a small set of norms. Initially they will be established by leaders, but then others will follow. What was initially like a sexual display becomes camouflage.
Identity is like that: the London punk scene began with a small cadre of young people – centred around the World’s End shop of Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren. By the end of the 80’s punk and its spin-offs, the new wave and new romantic movements were the staple diet of mainstream culture – Meanwhile the innovators had moved on to explore other ideas. Entropy is as inevitable in culture as it is in physics.
It’s important to distinguish between uniformity and conformity. Of course the craft beer brands are not uniformly alike - but they conform to the tropes of the category. The subtle variations that are understood like tribal scarification or Russian prison tattoos might be understood by the deep insiders or the cognoscenti but, to most people, they look the same. The phenomenon also applies to the actual taste differences between the brews themselves. Insiders often have a set of semantic codes they use as evidence of their connoisseurship. Being able to articulate with words the nuances of flavours is sometimes the main distinction between the expert and a person who simply knows what they like – though I am an ignorant peasant - in a blind taste test, I once scored a table top of Chardonnay wines exactly the same as a renowned oenophile. As he pointed out later – it simply meant we had a similar preference for buttery, rich flavours versus sharper flavours – which is why I don’t like Sauvignon Blanc (or cat’s pee, as I call it).
The Chaos Scenario.
The rise of a kind of web 3.0, where automation, machine learning and the application of data attempt to force not only interaction but also transaction has produced a kind of glorious advertising mess. Remarketing allows brands to follow people around shouting the same message that had previously been ignored (for good reason)…as though the machine knows nothing about human behaviour (which it doesn’t). Persistent irritation is rarely a positive motivation and has never been a successful advertising strategy.
Meanwhile television advertising attempts to mimic YouTube videos (just as music videos were the go-to for ad creatives in the 80’s – scenarios sponsored by brands).
Being overly transactional produces a constant search for novelty. It emphasis executional technique over consistency. The case can be made for relentlessly trying new things. Testing and refining makes sense as part of a process of discovery…hypothesis and experimentation are valid; but jack-rabbiting between cute executions simply creates confusion and, if it is one-off, builds no memory structure for the brand and it prospects and customers.
The identity of the brand must remain as the solid foundation that every expression is built upon. At the very least people have to recognise who is talking to them. Imagine returning home from work to your family having decided it would be cool to speak only Swedish (bear in mind your kids only speak English) because you have decided that everything cool comes from Scandinavia – this may be true – but the obvious consequence will be alienation and bewilderment…in marketing as in life.
Be The One & Only
Some years ago I developed a brand theory that relates to all of the above. Put simply: the purpose of branded communications is to eliminate ambiguity. Regardless of the task at hand – persuading, informing, reminding, guiding, convincing – the person receiving the brand’s message not only has to recognise and be able to identify and distinguish the brand from inevitable rivals – but it should do so in a way where the brand is represented utterly as its own self- in every dimension. As the distinguished cultural icon Gerry Garcia famously said – ‘Don’t be the best at what you do… be the only one that does it.’
Gerry operated in the distant past, as the front-man for the trippy hippy band The Grateful Dead, but his thoughts transcend his era and seem even more important today, where demands on the attention of most people have become more intense than at any other time in history.
When movies first appeared in a commercial form, people would line up to view sub-60 second black and white films of banal subjects like Arrival of a Train at a Station by the Lumiere brothers. They were wowed. People fainted. Today the summer release of fabulously executed blockbuster multimillion dollar CG epics are routine and yet they struggle to compete for audiences. Attracting and holding attention – or mitigating against the lack of attention - is our greatest challenge in marketing communications today.
In a time of media glut brands must be immediately recognisable. Complex messages in media will fail to gain recognition
Brands need not only to be themselves but also reflect the concerns of sufficient numbers of people to become profitably and sustainably purchased. Today and in the near future.
Reflection is a key word there. The identity of the brand must mirror the self-perceptions of a sufficiently large group. This means that we have to beware of the obscurantism of advertising planning and over-commitment to data (without qualifying sample size* or having clear hypothesis to test).
There are broad human truths that persist, regardless of the product or category. In the 90’s advertising account planning became more widely embraced. At its best it contextualised marketing research in human terms. At its worst it became an arcane, blurred pseudoscience which often offered a strange post rationalisation for weird, post-modern executions that lacked a strong central proposition real people could clearly understand. It’s not the consumer’s job to figure out what we are talking about – or who it is speaking to them. They just don’t have the time or motivation. If you are not clear - there are other brands people will happily fill the need.
Can you identify with that?
*In New Zealand we have to be careful not to automatically accept ideas based theories from markets where the population size is substantial – the ‘truism’ where there are niches there are riches doesn’t hold true in a market where the total to population size might equate to a viable niche in, say, North America, India or China. It’s always worth remembering that data can also present false impressions – for example the average human has one breast and one testicle.