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Youngest generations challenge marketers

Hungarians in Gens Y and Z are careful with money, easily bored and challenging to reach, according to a local expert. But there are ways into this market, and the payoff can be big.

Talk to them with technology: A young woman communicates in Budapest. (Photo: Jessica Fejos)

Changing use of internet and social media is altering the way marketers seek to spread their messages, and this is especially true of those who want to build lifelong customers by reaching tweens, teens and young adults.

Generation Yers grew up with lots of gadgets. But Gen Zers have an even more hard-core affinity with technology. Reaching them requires a new approach.

“Selecting the right channel is a make-or-break factor to start with,” says Mária Törőcsik, professor of marketing at the University of Pécs. “Of course, social media leads the pack here, but the so-called ambient marketing works as well – where the young are bombarded with messages at their hang-out places such as fitness clubs or other venues for other leisure time activities,” she says.

Recognized as an expert in the challenging field of reaching the younger generations, Törőcsik is a much sought-after speaker who has orchestrated several in-depth research projects on the topic. The lessons she shares are useful for anyone trying to sell to the vital youth market.

The latest findings show that successfully reaching out to tweens and teens requires well-planned tactics, according to Törőcsik. “They hate to be bored and they refuse to digest lengthy information: ‘Get to the point, tell me what I really need to know, but then just leave me alone!’” she explains. “Marketing messages must be crafted along these lines.”

As Törőcsik notes, we are talking about very pragmatic consumers here: “Advertisers had better offer some benefits, possibly big ones or at least a gift, together with what they want to sell, otherwise they are bound to be ignored fully.”

Recessionary knowledge

The influential Cassandra Report, an annual survey of trends among younger generations, notes that those under 20 experienced the recession as kids or adolescents and therefore they are eager to save whenever they can. Buying cool running gear at discount chains such as Lidl or Aldi is not embarrassing at all if the quality is good enough and the items on sale are considered trendy. “They’re much more savvy about their money because they’ve grown up at a time when you have to be much more savvy about money,” the report says. “They are looking at value differently and looking at how an item is made, how long it will last.”

Generation Z is also growing up with the sharing economy and ownership means far less to them than it does even to members of Gen Y. Access often beats ownership in their priority ranking: Just think of the concept of streamed music. This mindset will have critical implications on shoppers’ relationships and engagement with brands in the long-term.

These features are important to consider for existing brands, but for those yet to be created from scratch they are even more so, according to Törőcsik, who notes that niche markets are always out there.

“You just need to spot the right one,” she says. “In terms of food, anything linked to organic farming or fair trade sells, but products associated with particular scenes should also be able to find an audience. Authentic, practical, and interesting are the buzz words here.”

The young love to be loved and they expect that of brands too. They live in “an era of self-celebrity” and are accustomed to an incredible level of narcissism, she notes.

The young also long for uniqueness. According to the Cassandra Report, 63% of Gen Zers would like to have a product that no one else owns. Significant majorities of them link luxury to quality. Large majorities express extreme loyalty towards their preferred technology, personal care and grooming brands.

You can’t be serious!

This brand-consciousness and the overall shopping attitude of people in young age groups have an impact on older consumers as well, according to Törőcsik. “The young used to look at what the older ones did. Now it’s the other way around. Society prefers the young, everybody wants to live like those aged between 20 and 30 – no long-term commitment, premium products.” Nonetheless, she notes, the young still rely on their parents a great deal and are now part of the ‘purchasing dialogue’ more than ever before.

A report by the digital agency Deep Focus found that 93% of parents surveyed said their tween and teen children have at least some influence on their family’s spending and household purchases.

“The young are turning into latent opinion leaders,” Törőcsik notes. “Parents don’t take selfies in changing rooms, but in the back of their mind they have their daughter’s comment made the other day saying, ‘Come on, Mom, you can’t be serious about wearing that brand!’”

With parents listening to the younger generation, marketers apparently cannot afford to ignore them.