5 Most Innovative Gen Z Marketing Campaigns

This article was originally posted on my contributor column for TheNextWeb.

Who is Gen Z?

With Generation Z poised to become more than 40% of the consumer market by 2020, innovation in retail and marketing are key for keeping market share as demographic shift.  As Gen Z has grown up on social media and is the first generation of true digital natives, they look at ads a little differently than the typical television commercials, billboards, or banner ads on websites.

Firstly, exposure to these old-school advertising techniques is limited as Gen Z does not watch television, rarely acknowledges billboards, and typically uses Ad-Block. Most people know social media advertising, such as Facebook or Instagram Ads, are the new hot marketing platforms and understand the power of influencer marketing, but success in new-age marketing relies on innovative application of modern techniques.  So, what are the best examples of new-age marketing that can help inspire your own campaigns?

1. Gucci’s Meme Campaign

Gucci Meme Emiliano Ponzi

Most surveys of Generation Z will reveal one of the most popular forms of social media content is memes.  Memes being trendy images or videos that reveal social truths with a humorous twist.  In the spring of 2017 when Gucci launches their latest watch line, their marketing campaign centered on using content marketing with memes.

Content marketing has been a buzzword for a few years now, with corporations slowly realizing the best marketing is in the form of social media and blog content that target demographics actually want to consume.  Gucci was one of the first companies to generate meme content for their content marketing and have it actually trend with consumers.

What made this campaign superb was the fact Gucci consulted with rising contemporary art and design figures to create the memes, adding in a unique storyline for each piece.  Generation Z has displayed an affinity for stories behind what they consumer, rather than simple products, and so Gucci went above and beyond to add this extra layer of depth to the pieces.

2. Dollar Shave Club’s Video Campaigns

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Dollar Shave Club is the subscription service, which will deliver razor blades to your doorstep for cheap.  Each box of razors has a comical quip on the packaging and Dollar Shave Club has released a series of videos drawing upon the humor in this packaging.

Video content does better with Gen Z rather than standard content, with 74% of Gen Z watching at least 30 minutes of mobile video a day and 17% watching more than 2 hours a day.  What made Dollar Shave Club’s videos so incredible was how ridiculously hilarious they were.

One campaign featured their iconic packaging saying “Watching a Snail Cross the Road is Dull.  Your Blade Shouldn’t Be” followed by a ten-minute video of a snail crossing the road and a turtle racing by at the end.  When watching the video, you cannot help but let out a chuckle and smile and these positive emotions are transferred to Gen Z’s perceptions of Dollar Shave Club as a brand, as well as increased engagement and sharing on social media platforms.

3. Supreme x Louis Vuitton Launch

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2016 was dubbed the year of collaborations in the fashion world.  Adidas alone released almost 50 different collaborations, with the most popular being the Adidas X Yeezy lines with Kanye West.  Collaborations offer the chance for two brands to unite different images, styles, and tastes into a new and ephemeral limited release.

In early 2017 the streetwear brand Supreme and high fashion house Louis Vuitton announced the upcoming release of their collaboration.  Supreme is well known for their simple and bold name-logo which turns a sweatshirt into a $400 piece of clothing, while Louis Vuitton’s iconic pattern makes for the most desirable purses, bags, and luggage.  Their collaboration took these two fetishized prints and united them into a single new lavish print.

Not only did the product of the collaboration have perfect execution, but the day it was announced, it was hard to not see it on social media.  Every major style influencer or fashion account was sharing either original content or reposted images of the announcement and every newsfeed was flooded with these incredible fashion pieces.  Pure genius in both design and viral influencer launch.

4. Colette’s The Beach

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Colette is an edgy high-fashion store known for launching some of the best designs and brands.  2017 marked the 20th anniversary of the retail location and to celebrate they held one of the best events of the decade. “The Beach” was a minimalist set-up in the Museum of Decorative Arts in Paris, France featuring a massive ball pit and a variety of art installations.

A collaboration with IKEA to sponsor a white art room with various contemporary artists circulating through to modify and beautify the room made for an aesthetic creation.  Everywhere you looked the event space had a cool feature that was both fun and image-worthy.  On top of curating a tremendous assortment of attractions, Colette rolled out a number of limited release collaborations with various brands, such as a special BMW, limited OnePlus phone, and more.

Then they brought in tons of an influencers, style icons, and social media celebrities.  Making the event continuously pop-up on social media feeds and giving the illusion that attending the event would equate to meeting great minds and famous figures.  Overall, Colette cemented itself as a hub for style and culture for the next 20 years.

5. Kanye West’s Pablo Pop-Ups

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Pop-up shops are a form of product launches where the merchandise is only available in the certain store locations and people often need to wait in long lines in anticipation for the releases.  Think Harry Potter movie premier meets retail.  What makes these so powerful with Generation Z is that while Millennials prefer online shopping over physical stores, a vast majority of pop-up shop attendees are Gen Z members.

For Kanye West’s Life of Pablo worldwide tour, he sold his tour merchandise via a series of pop-ups in different global metro centers.  Each pop-up had a set of standard merchandise and then a selection of location specific gear.  Furthermore, throughout the pop-ups, Kanye launched a series of military jackets which refurbished actual military jackets from past countries’ war uniforms.

As the pop-ups moved from city to city, just as a musician’s tour builds continued social media exposure and anticipation, the Pablo pop-ups had a desire and “fear of missing out.”  Kanye is already a style icon with trendy fashion sense among Gen Z, so leveraging this series of pop-ups to increase anticipation for the tour, rather than going the typical route of selling merch at the concert was an inspired means of increasing hype.

It is never good enough to simply use marketing routes for the sake of marketing.  Generation Z wants to hear a unique and authentic story that stands out from the competition.  They have been exposed to hundreds of advertisements a day since their birth, so there is a high level of quality in order to justify attention.  As you sculpt out your own new-age marketing campaigns, look at what these campaigns did well and what features you can take for your own application.

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