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Has Your Brand Got Gen Z Appeal?

person in red hoody with light up halloween mask on that has crosses on eyse and a stitched-effect mouth that lights up in red.
Photo by sebastiaan stam on Unsplash

Ah the holy grail of youth marketing, is your brand or organisation really appealing to that “youth” segment? Does it even know where to start, is it just hoping to ask one young person who looks ‘cool’ to inform their approach?!

The Hear It podcast made a return this week, speaking with youth marketing strategist Brett Booth, former Director at youth agency NERDS, on how to be culturally and contextually relevant to a youth audience.

Having entered the world of youth marketing through working within music and fashion, Brett soon applied his experience of culture-first to understanding audiences and drilling into the detail of what made different niches’ tick.

One of the common misconceptions of youth marketing has to be the fast pace of youth markets something Brett says is an often-used tactic to “scare” organisations to see youth audiences and subcultures as hard to reach and understand.

“If anyone hands you a report that says ‘This is Gen Z’, throw it in the bin” he says of the generic reports that focus on catch-all statements about ‘all young people’.

“To say all young people are into street wear, or find hype beast relevant is simply not true” he adds, as we delve into the importance of really honing in on the specific youth audience you’re trying to engage with.

“Just who are you really trying to connect to? The first thing you can think about is, are we talking about masses who have different ideologies to the niche or the more affluent?

“At that first level, you can say what’s the dominant ideology for the part of this Gen Z spectrum that we’re trying to connect to – that for me, is always a really important starting point because I think you can correct and set clients’ understanding from a different place if you can understand that.”

We also explore how to set up your approach to insight for a youth audience and really championing the real views and voices of the segment you’re trying to engage. Going to a space that’s familiar, or perhaps structuring insight to enable 1-2-1 conversations, particularly on areas that are more challenging, with facilitators or friendship groups, can prove invaluable, something both Brett and I share examples on.

Avoiding the trap of just hiring people that may offer cool opinions relevant to some segments is important too. Developing campaigns based on insight and really reflect a target audience, rather than one person’s opinion of what ‘cool and relevant’ is, is vital. Because you can’t just get rid of a team once they mature! Plus, it trivialises better serving a vast audience group, which has diverse sub cultures, all needing to be heard and engaged with effectively.

You can listen to the podcast on the website here, or on Spotify or Apple Podcasts.

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