Preparing to communicate with the next generation of buyers.
In the last decade, musical instrument manufacturers have faced an uphill battle in marketing and communications. The struggle fell squarely on nurturing the loyal audiences that grew up with your brand while working overtime to find a way to make your brand relevant to the emerging millennial audience, an audience with vastly different media usage habits and distinctly different brand expectations. Now that you’ve finally dialed in to millennials (we hope), you’ve got another generation creeping up on you that you need to prepare for, Generation Z.
Born between 1995 and 2015, Generation Z represents the future of music brands. As digital natives, they’re different than any generation before, even millennials. Here are a few things you need to know about this audience that will help you kick-start a strategy for grooming the next generation of buyers.
Respect their deep attachment to digital platforms.
Generation Z was born in a post-internet world that was transitioning out of the analog experience and, as such, have become a highly mobile audience. They watch less television than previous generations, about 13.2 hours a week, and when they do, it’s happening untethered from the family room via tablets, laptops and even smartphones. In fact, the smartphone stands apart as the single most used device by this generation (about 15.4 hours/week). This platform will be the new battleground for your brand’s share of voice. Not to worry, however. If you’ve been diligent about targeting millennials, you should already be on the path with your digital strategies.
Tell stories and keep it visual.
Generation Z was born with smartphones in hand so social media is engrained in their DNA. There’s nothing earth shattering in this observation, but it’s important to recognize where they are spending their time.
- YouTube is king with 80% of Gen Z consuming hours of video on a daily basis.
- Facebook is still relevant with 50% of Gen Z using the popular tool as both a social experience and a content channel.
- Snapchat and Instagram are also an ongoing part of the social toolkit with 34% and 35% adoption respectively.
Notice there’s not mention of Twitter? There’s a very good reason as evidenced by the pattern laid out above. The visual experience is critical to this audience. If you haven’t mastered the art of visual storytelling, this is your first order of business. While this audience is using these tools for the social experience, the vast majority are on the platforms in search of content. It is more important than ever that we learn to tell brand stories visually and in short-form.
Teach them something and they’ll grow with you.
Generation Z learned a valuable lesson from millennials. They are acutely aware that waiting for opportunity guarantees nothing. Gen Z is highly self-motivated, and they crave the skills and knowledge that allow them to reach their goals. To capitalize on this vigor, marketers will have to provide them with the tools. How-to or educational videos, tutorials, and collaborative online communities designed to share knowledge are the key to ensuring participation with your brand. If you can get them to feel invested in your brand, you’ll secure their loyalty. Even better, if you can convert them to ambassadors, they can lend tremendous amplification to your brand.
Make sure your product is as cool as you think it is.
Gen Z is similar in many ways to millennials. When it comes to products, however, they differ drastically. Millennials were all about cool experiences and less concerned with what they owned. Generation Z is all about a cool product. Fortunately, for the music manufacturing industry there’s no shortage of sweet gear. Take warning however, smoke and mirrors marketing isn’t going to work on these folks.
Generation Z is more informed than any generation prior, and they do extensive research before the purchase from “showrooming” to peer review in online musician communities. If your gear isn’t up to snuff, they’ll know about it and will likely share their findings with the rest of the digital community. No amount of aspirational marketing or player endorsement can overcome this hurdle.
Flex your social responsibility.
Gen Z has grown up in a pretty dark world. From 9/11 to cyber bullying and even school shootings, they’ve been exposed to the problems of the world from an early age. They believe in change and are active in creating change in any way they can. Beyond cool products they want to partner with a brand that mirrors what they believe in. A brand that reflects their values. If your music brand stands for a cause don’t just say it, shout it from the rooftops and show evidence with posts, videos and stories about what you’ve done for the movement. Let Generation Z know that you care about what they care about and give them a strong reason to align with your brand.
Generation Z. They’re informed, determined and they’re ready to buy.