Speaker Series Spotlight: Decoding Gen Z

Aug 4, 2022

Opinionated, tech native and breaking all the rules – getting to know Gen Z is critical for every founder and marketer looking to the future. Born between 1995 and 2015, Gen Z now amasses 20 percent of our population.

With the oldest in the group in their early 20s, and now entering the business world, this demographic is well on their way to becoming Australia’s next purchasing superpower. However, businesses need to know that Gen Z’s behaviour is unlike any other generation before them.

Prolific social media users, Gen Z expect more from brands and shop in ways older generations would never have believed possible says David Willey.

This year David was one of more than 30 speakers presenting on a wide range of business topics at the 2022 Naturally Good Expo.

audience watching presentation

With 18+ years of experience in youth marketing, David is a self-confessed serial entrepreneur and Gen Z geek. He’s the founder of conference and marketing agency – Youth Marketing Australia; men’s skincare brand, The Aussie Man; and Gen Z focused travel website, Planet Youth.

Additionally, David has been a Gen Z advisor and consultant to many major global brands, most recently working with Amazon, Apple, Spotify, Student Edge and Deliveroo.

Here are some insightful points raised by David in his presentation – Decoding Gen Z.

Gen Z and what matters to them

  • Activism: Gen Z or Zoomers are a generation of activists. They care about many different causes and get involved in many different movements and campaigns that matter to them such as climate change, gender diversity, social justice, veganism, animal cruelty, political subjects and so on.
  • Identity: They reject the overly polished and overly idolised images. The Gen Z mantra is be yourself. If you are true to yourself and trustworthy it means that I can trust you. They want to stand out rather than fit in and that’s celebrated. Life is competitive enough, standing out can be a competitive advantage. Own it and be true to yourself.
  • Technology: On average Aussies get their first phones at the ripe and impressionable age of 10. By the age of 18, 87% have access to a smartphone and they rack up 7.3 hours of smart phone usage a day.

Consumption of social media

There is a perception that Gen Z and social media are a mysterious force. However, I wouldn’t say that Gen Z uses social media differently, they just consume more. Businesses need to know that it is their everything and that this category spends up to four hours a day consuming content. It’s become vitally important to relate on the right platforms. TikTok is the undisputed king of social media amongst Gen Z but Instagram is still a serious contender for screen time amongst the group.

Brand expectations – make it count

I think brands have got away with just being profit machines for such a long while but times have changed. Gen Z is increasingly calling out bad behaviour and asking brands to use their impact and reach for the greater good. They want brands to show that they support their customers and take action on issues so it’s wise to give this consideration. They want brands to actually stand up for important issues, build inclusive practices into their business and look at ways to mitigate their carbon footprint.

Engaging Gen Z – what are the rules

It’s important for brands to know that when engaging with Gen Z they value individual expression and are also radically inclusive. They are also on the lookout for brands that act ethically. With an incredibly strong ‘BS’ metre, Gen Z is well educated about the brands that they love. If a brand advertises diversity but lacks diversity within its own business, they will not be afraid to publicly call them out. In that same breath, it’s okay for brands to make mistakes – it’s not the end of the world. They just have to own them and put in place measures to prevent breaches of ethics from happening again!

How do businesses capture the Gen Z market

It’s vital to not treat Gen Z all the same. Like all generations, they have different agendas and a variety of preferences. Basically, brands need to:

  • Behave ethically
  • Put the customer at the core of all their actions with as much personalisation as possible
  • Act sustainably

Gen Z – what matters to them in a nutshell

  • Authentic, personalised brand experiences
  • Inclusive actions
  • Standing up for causes

Thanks to our speakers for being part of the 2022 Naturally Good Speaker Series. If you would like to read more key take-aways from our Speaker Series sessions, subscribe here for regular updates. 

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