The minute you start trying too hard, that’s when Gen Z is like, Bye.”
That’s the advice of Dahye Jung, a strategy analyst at Sid Lee, the global creative agency that works with businesses like Dos Equis and The North Face. Every day, at least one of Jung’s clients wants to know, “How do we reach Gen Z?”
It’s a good question.
Generation Z—the 20 percent of the U.S. population ages 9 to 24 with annual buying power estimated at nearly $300 billion—is a coveted yet elusive demographic. It’s the first generation to never know a world without the internet, growing up on cellphones, with virtual lives no less real than their IRL ones.
While no generation can be uniformly summarized (much as marketers will try), Gen Z has a few well-earned stereotypes: They’re socially conscious, tech-savvy, and quick to sniff out BS. “They don’t want to ‘buy’ from a brand,” says Eric Jones, who tracks Gen Z’s behavior as VP of corporate marketing at WP Engine. “Instead, they want to partner with their brands. They want a relationship; they want honesty.”
Because of all that, the conventional wisdom is that Gen Z wants community. More than buying, they want to belong. Perhaps it’s why 80 percent of tech founders believe community is “the new moat,” according to a 2019 report from First Round Capital. But this misses an important distinction because building a community around a brand doesn’t cut it for Gen Z. Companies must come to them—and that’s a fundamental mindset shift.
“You should be looking at a community that’s already doing its own thing,” Jung says. “And you say, ‘Hey, what do you guys need? Let me give you the resources to amplify it a little bit further.’” It’s hard for brands to let go of control and simply trust their community to boost sales for them, she acknowledges. “But that’s the new way of thinking.”
Continue reading your story on the app
Continue reading your story in the magazine
WE KNOW LESS THAN WE THINK
And that’s a good thing! The greatest lesson from the pandemic is this: Possibilities are endless.
READY FOR A BIG RETURN
The end of the pandemic is in sight, and many franchises are anticipating an explosion in business. Leaders at four franchises share how their brands are working overtime to prepare for the rush and win back coveted business.
DESKS THAT KILL ZOOM FATIGUE?
Another workday at home getting you down? A new line of desks will help you up— and help you maintain focus.
ONE RESTAURANT, EIGHT BRANDS
To boost sales during the pandemic, the founders of Dog Haus flooded the delivery apps with virtual restaurants that operate out of existing franchise kitchens. They’ve been so valuable that they’re now here to stay.
MAKING BIG CHANGES IN TIMES OF BIG CHANGE (OR WHY AMAZON CREATED THE KINDLE)
Entrepreneurs are defined by how they adapt during crises. In this exclusive excerpt from their book Working Backwards, longtime Amazon execs Colin Bryar and Bill Carr reveal how the company dealt with massive disruption…and transformed itself as a result.
The year 2021 may feel uncertain, but set your expectations high anyway. Doing so will become your guiding force.
THE TIME FOR REINVENTION IS NOW
Our world has changed. As people—and as entrepreneurs—we should change, too. Follow these three steps to find new opportunities and capture them with success.
HIS WORST FIVE YEARS WERE HIS LIFE'S BEST GIFT
What is it like to build a hit business and then lose all control? Oded Brenner, the founder of Max Brenner: Chocolate by the Bald Man has a lot to say about that.
HOW TO TAKE DOWN GOLIATH
The biggest companies can still be taken down by the smallest startups. Here are four strategies disruptors use to fight their way up.
THE RISE OF THE SMART BOARD
Miss having in-person meetings in front of whiteboards? Now you can replicate them remotely.