A strong digital branding strategy is vital to expand your reach to more people across different demographics. The Generation Z demographic are people born between 1997 and 2012. They are currently the most desirable retail demographic cohort, thanks to their $44 Billion worth of buying power. If you’re not currently marketing to Generation Z, you’re missing out on a lot of business.
Building a powerful brand identity for Gen Z will take time since multiple businesses have already started marketing campaigns to reach this demographic. To stand out, you will need to increase your online presence as Gen Z’s are tech-savvy and known to be natives of the digital world, particularly in social media.
Building up your brand to target Gen Z demographic involves extensive research, critical thinking, and creativity. You may need help from a reliable brand advertising agency from the younger generation helping you out.
Many brands have successfully connected with the Gen Z consumer, and they didn’t need to break their brand to achieve it.
Digital Branding Strategy for Marketing to Generation Z
Here are the three key principles you can use to stretch your brand and reach Gen Z’s digital world:
Understand What Your Brand is Beyond Your Products
Before you can stretch your brand to a target demographic, you should define your brand identity. Your identity is how you communicate with your target market and what makes it different from your competitors. If you know what your brand is all about, you can communicate better with your audience and build a strong relationship with your customers.
One good example is Nike. Nike has built its brand around its purpose and used it to stretch its brand digitally. Nike’s purpose is to “move the world forward through the power of sport – breaking barriers and building community to change the game for all.” Because Nike focused on its purpose, they managed to create both the Nike Run Club app to help their audience optimize their fitness performance, even though the app isn’t focused on sportswear.
One company that failed to understand its brand and stretch it is was CD-R King. This was once the most popular source of cheap tech in the Philippines. CD-R King started as a humble CD store that eventually expanded. They opened branches near colleges and universities, close to their target market – students and educators.
CD-R King became synonymous with the words “cheap” and “affordable” due to its products’ low prices. Then-regional manager Daryle Ganchua said that they wanted to give the masses access to technology and so they try to make their products as affordable as possible. Aside from making tech more accessible to everyone, the company started offering computer parts, audio and video equipment, smartphones, car accessories, lights, home appliances, scooters, and windmills.
CD-R King’s expansion, however, has likely contributed to its downfall as their cheap products were also known for being easily replaceable since they are low-quality goods. Expanding to more expensive products meant that the consumers will have doubts on the products’ quality, resulting in more tech-savvy people like the Gen Z demographics avoiding the brand leaving CD-R King having a surplus of unsold goods. Eventually, the company had to close most of its branches nationwide even before the pandemic struck.
In a nutshell, you must understand what your brand is all about before breaking away from your usual services. You can easily lose focus by becoming too ambitious and expand to the point that you are breaking away from your brand’s DNA. Tech stores offering cheap small electronics for a particular target audience can help give people easily replaceable items. But offering big electronics that aren’t as replaceable as the initial products will prompt people to look for vendors that offer more reliable products. Any business can emulate Nike’s practice and offer digital services that don’t break away from their brand’s DNA.
Understand Your Customers’ Unique Digital Persona
Know who your customers are. People buy from brands that help them present who they want to be. Someone wearing Patagonia clothes will likely be a person telling others that they are conscious of the world, while someone wearing a Rolex will likely be someone who displays their success. The members of Generation Z are more brand-conscious than other generations so businesses must adapt and cater to their customers’ persona.
The only problem here is that internet users, especially Generation Z, adopt a different persona. One way that people use a different persona is by expressing themselves through video games.
Both men and women are now open to playing online video games, streaming, and dipping their toes to e-sports careers, and/or participate in competitions. Even people who don’t stream or compete in leagues have their own unique personas that they’ve established in the games they’re playing.
One popular entertainment brand that caters to both Gen Z and Millennial netizens is Offline TV, a group of content creators that produce different content for different audiences. The Offline TV members generally started in gaming and eventually decided to produce content under the Offline TV brand. They have also expanded to include other content creators they’ve met throughout their gaming careers.
Facepunch Studios, the developer of the 2013 game Rust, capitalized on the fact that more people are playing the game when Offline TV servers were launched in 2021. Facepunch Studios teamed up with several streamers and content creators, including Shroud, xQc, Myth, Pokimane, LilyPichu, Skyunno, JakeSepticEye, Ludwig, and AuronoPlay, to give away exclusive in-game skins through special Twitch drops for their respective fans. Other video games also contain in-game skins representing popular content creators for their fans to buy using real money to show their support for idols. Such companies have benefited from additional sales since they catered to their audience’s wants.
Even non-video game companies like Venus started offering in-game skins in Animal Crossing through their “skinsclusive summer line” that allows people to choose from 250 shades of skin. Because Gen Z members are more aware of societal issues, Venus capitalized on this, and empowered women to use their natural skin tone in the game. Doing so also gives people more customization options, which many people like. This offer is built on their understanding of their customers’ needs and their unique brand DNA.
Collaborate with Businesses and Creators
We discussed how Facepunch teamed up with content creators, now we will focus more on collaborating with creators and brands. Brands partner with other brands and content creators through sponsorships and collaborations, and content creators also collaborate with other creators to produce quality content. Such partnerships allow such businesses and content creators to expand their reach and potentially profit.
Klarna, a buy-now-pay-later application, teamed up with influencers DJ Micah “Noodles” Mahinay and Kara Chung to produce a virtual shopping experience in the game Animal Crossing. The move allowed retailers to engage with their Millennial and Gen Z shoppers and let them have a chance to let their villagers wear the item in the game, while also having the chance to win the items in real life once they upload a photo of the experience on their Instagram accounts.
Klarna’s actions showed how a financial institution like them that typically has no place in the gaming arena can perform well. Partnering with a popular content creator that many Generation Z members respected allowed Klarna to connect with the new target audience. Other brands, especially tech brands like HyperX, also partner with content creators to showcase their products to show the creators’ fans that they’re great.
Such collaborations can strengthen a brand stretch if done properly. One vital component is that both parties must share the same values. You can effectively collaborate with other brands and creators as long as you share your values with one another as it is vital to have a great partnership with them.
Remember these three things when marketing to Generation Z: 1) Don’t lose sight of your brand. 2) Understand how the audience consumes their media. 3) Partner up!
And one thing even more important though – Don’t try too hard.