The Age of Isolation

How Gen Z and Branding Intersect

TikTok. Tide Pods. Identity: Sought.

And, with a life punctuated by the War on Terror following September 11, 2001, an adolescence saturated with mass shootings, and an onset of adulthood with the formation and rise of Black Lives Matter, who can blame them?

Gen Z is rooted in digital nativism, political activism, and a seemingly unrelenting nihilism. If you want to remain truly relevant to them, the traditional marketing approach is no longer acceptable. Innovation is your new best friend, and you’ve got to be ready to leave everything behind that has “already proven to work”—because Gen Z is paving their own path towards a new era. If we’re truly and authentically aiming to connect with them, we can start by finding them where they are: right in the thick of it.

These kids are all about individualism and self-awareness: whether they’re starting a new eyebrow trend on TikTok, protesting in the streets for civil rights, or sinking knee-deep into Nietzsche theory, they’re motivated to stand up, stand out, and stand in for the things that truly matter and do it in a way that counts. They’re educated. They’re passionate. They’re hungry for immediacy, both in public policy and in social media, and nothing’s going to stand in their way.

Going digital.

Gen Zers, or Zoomers, arrived into a world where technology was steeped in every fiber of life. During their teenage years, social media became more and more prevalent, and now, it’s almost impossible to escape, but they continue to find ways to surprise us and go against the grain: Unlike Millennials, or Gen Yers, who obsess over aesthetics, perfectly curated Instagram feeds, and Tumblr memes, Gen Z chooses to radically reposition their relationships with social media with striking transparency and a knack for feeling out what’s genuine (and what’s not). In recent years, social media has served as a never-ending source for education, and like their predecessors, Millennials, Gen Z can’t get enough—but while Millennials often share content on their Instagram stories or Facebook profiles relevant to social justice and current events, Zoomers have taken TikTok by storm, creating bite-sized, easily digestible content accessible for everyone, regardless of if you’re a follower or friend. 

For marketers, this might look like encouraging transparency both internally—within your own branding and employee life, and externally—with client-facing work and community engagement. Brands should also consider closely monitoring trends and pumping out related content in quick, short, consistent bursts on social media. Take action now: by the time you’ve considered waiting, someone else has already taken the torch. You want to be the first. Set the trend.

But all this is just a start. If you want to learn how to level with Gen Z, sign up to receive our exclusive report via email. In it, we dig deeper into the characteristics, trends and insights that will keep your team prepared for a new generational dialogue. 

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