Talking social media

Recently we’ve been putting some thought into how GenZ might develop as shoppers. In fact, the oldest of that cohort are already out and about spending money, so it won’t be long before they are part of the mainstream target market.

And yet, they aren’t mainstream as we know it. They are the generation that has grown up with touchscreens at their fingertips, for whom a smartphone is a given, and social media is the go-to means of communication.

Their attitude to social media is quite different from older shoppers. For a start they are much more comfortable seeing brands in their social space – if anything they actively seek them out on social media, because they are keen to see what’s going on. This is in marked contrast to older shoppers who feel social media is for social interactions, and who can find the barrage of ads or brand messages on Facebook and the like somewhat irritating.

So we have a cohort of future shoppers who are far more open to hearing from brands, and who are therefore potentially far easier to communicate with. The trouble is, GenZ don’t talk on social media like the average shopper! If you have a teenager in your household you’ll know what I mean – an example I saw recently was a photo of new trainers with a smiley face, a fire, and a petrol pump emoji…I think it means the trainers were smoking?!

What GenZ want from brands are images or ideas that look fun, or cool (sick is probably their word, but I’m old enough to struggle with that!), things they can then share with their followers for fun or for likes. Unfortunately brands are often too focused on getting the brand message across in order to drive brand awareness and sales, so their social media looks and feels corporate which means they totally miss the mark with this age group.

Social media could and should be another tool in the brand communication toolbox. And it is encouraging to see a generation coming through that is more open to seeing brands in this space. But the ideal two-way conversations that social media can facilitate will only happen when brands talk in the same language. That language differs by age group, and the more retailers or manufacturers can reflect that in their use of social media, the better their chances of making this media more meaningful. And more meaningful communication is more likely to get those sought after sales.

By Danielle Pinnington, MD at Shoppercentric