This series of 4 articles will shed a light on the 4 key DNA aspects of what is called NextGen – a combination of Millennials or Gen Y (currently the young adult generation of 21-36 year olds) and their successors Generation Z (aged 6-20 today). To get to this NextGen DNA, InSites Consulting interviewed 10,000 people from 4 different generations: Gen Z, Gen Y, Generation X (aged 37 to 52, the parents of Gen Z) and the Baby Boomers (aged 53 to 70, the parents of Millennials) in 8 different countries across Europe but also in the US and in Australia. The interviews allowed us to identify significant and relevant differences between these generations and to find out more about this next generation of consumers: Gen Y and Gen Z.
In this first article, we will focus on the first DNA aspect: ‘I am snappy’. Snappy means, like Snapchat, quite direct, efficient and also witty, quite intelligent about using all quick types of media.
Let’s start with a rhetorical question: who do you think is messaging the most with their friends, while they are watching TV content? Gen Z or Gen Y? The result in our study show that it’s actually Gen Z, the youngest ones. Gen Z is number one when it comes to messaging with friends while watching TV. The Millennials are using social media, surfing the internet, playing games or even answering e-mails, as they tend to fuse their private lives with their professional ones. Gen Z however is doing less of the latter as they are not professionally active yet.
An emojional generation
The most used item while texting or messaging with friends is not LOL, HAHA, SELFIE or FOMO; the most used thing is not a word, it is the heart emoji. This young generation is an emojional generation, they communicate using emojis, emoticons or gifs, visual content. To them it’s the most efficient, snappiest way of communicating, the most direct way of story telling. If I look at the type of emojinalized and filtered visuals and video my Gen Z daughters are sharing on Instagram or Snapchat, it’s clear that they are from another planet ;-). But how do we as marketers handle this type of new communication style? The answer is of course that we should change our way of communicating. It is clear that this visual language style is increasingly important to connect with the youngest generations.
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Some examples: IKEA has launched their own emoticon library, so that people can communicate with each other about their IKEA visits; they simply select the corresponding emojis when they want to talk about the Swedish meat balls or some of the iconic furniture or even a shopping bag or the IKEA Family card. Other brands like McDonald’s also have their own emojis and Colette, the hipster store in Paris, actually asked McDonald’s if they could use the hamburger emojis and print them on a limited-edition t-shirt and sell it in their store. The candy brand Mentos is also using this type of visual communication, having used the shape of their product to create their own library of ementicons.
Another evolution related to being snappy as a generation is the usage of Ephemeral Media, which means using media that will disappear after a few seconds. Snapchat is a good example of course, most of the time it’s only there for less than 10 seconds, so if you really want to see the message, you have to focus on it. Research from Microsoft has shown that today’s attention span is a mere 8 seconds, which is actually shorter than that of a goldfish; so if you want to catch the attention, your communication style may need adapting. Snapchat is all about having fun with friends, sending funny messages to the close circle of friends you select yourself without the unbearable pressure of likes.
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The ultimate ephemeral medium is of course live streaming, because you are really doing something in the moment, which is quite important to Next Gen. So if you want to make a big announcement, e.g. a product launch, you can use live streaming. Red Bull for instance used Periscope to livestream events they are sponsoring. Tweeting live videos will get the attention of people who want to see what is happening at that moment, otherwise they might miss the whole message and the whole point. Live streaming is also a good way of authentic product demonstrations. Landrover for instance did a live test-drive allowing viewers to interact and ask questions while the test pilot was demonstrating the vehicle’s capabilities on demanding tracks.
The age of impatience
NextGen is living in the Age of Impatience. Our study showed that the Millennials and generation Z tend to go online to watch OTT content, TV content online. They would hate to miss an episode of House of Cards or Game of Thrones, and if they can watch it even before it’s out in their own region, that is all the better.
There is also the phygital trend of combining physical stores with digital preordering or preselecting, which is totally related to this age of impatience. Starbucks has a mobile app which you can use to order your coffee or your sandwich, you pay upfront and then you just pick it up in the store without having to queue. The same goes for Kentucky Fried Chicken, with their Xpress app: it is prepaid so you just pick up your chicken burger without queueing.
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So when translating this impatience to marketing communications, we should think of our formats. Are we still creating 20-second videos, 30-second commercials and is that even a good idea, considering Next Gen’s short attention span? They can even get bored within 5 seconds. So it is all about creating compelling content and creative ideas.
This one-minute-two-seconds video got 7.3 million views in 2 weeks. The key message is of course shown in the first 5 seconds as viewers can skip YouTube ads after that time frame but the brand remains on screen for the full 1 minute and 2 seconds. People want to see what is happening with the dog throughout the entire commercial – and of course dogs and children still work in advertising – so if you have a creative idea, longer formats are still an option.
However, it is becoming clear that the age of impatience implies that Next Gen wants an on-demand experience. Some brands like Uber are actually the market leader in on-demand experiences: they do not only provide you with a driver & car when you need one; if you’d like a fresh meal, there is Uber Eats, delivering fresh meals within 10 minutes; need any 7/11 items, the same 10-minute rule applies; they simply use the same network of drivers. Amazon is doing it differently: they have created actual physical dash buttons that you can stick where you want; if you need razors or washing detergent, you just physically push the button and your stuff is ordered automatically, without you even having to grab your phone or having to go online. The button is preprogrammed so that it orders the products and there is of course same-day delivery for Amazon Prime members.
So in short for the first DNA aspect: it’s all about being snappy, creating on-demand experiences and using ephemeral media. Next up? What we discovered on the second DNA aspect, Dreaming of a better world. Stay tuned!
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