Recently, Bilibili, a video website popular among Generation Z (Gen Z), unexpectedly went viral in other age groups.
How viral exactly?
Before May 4, China’s Youth Day, a PSA called “hou lang” (new-comer) was posted on the website, and it received more than 20 million views and 1.4 million thumbs-up. The numbers are still counting.
It became a trendy tag on Weibo and dominated people’s feed on Moments. Even the middle-age group who was not used to posting things on social media shared it with a thumbs-up emoji.
The next day when U.S. stocks opened up, Bilibili saw a significant market value rise of $670 million on NASDAQGS. Though its price slightly cooled off during the day, the company was still valued $480 million higher than the previous trading day by the closing bell. The stimulating video touched the hearts of Gen Z,the new-comers it was referring to, and a member commented lovingly: “Guess our crappy site has done something extraordinary!”
#1 GenerationZ: the consumption backbone to-be
What is Generation Z? It mostly refers to people born between 1995-2010. They are the first cohort to have mobile internet technology readily available at a young age. Growing up in the era marked by drastic changes and information explosion, much of their personal experience is gained in the digital world.
Incomplete statistics put the size of Gen Z at 260 million people in China, and they are the main consumers in the society. In 2015, parents of Gen Z members spent $150 billion on their children. The demographic group was also a significant factor why Bilibili successfully went listed on Nasdaq.
Now that their growing presence indicates tremendous commercial value, it’s worthwhile to know about what they are like and what they spend their money on.
#2 Where does their money go?
1.In a highly diverse cultural market,
ACG is the niche people scramble for.
Gen Z is receptive to a huge variety of culture, and ACG (anime, comics & game) is a distinctive cultural tag of the generation. The industry centered on ACG culture is growing to be the leader of China’s entertainment industry. Merch of anime IPs like Ultraman, One Piece and Ironman are even more marketable than goods promoted by stars and influencers.
Since Gen Z is changing the way of communications online, established brands have been catering to the group by adding ACG elements to their brand image, which enlarges their fanbase and maximizes marketing outcomes. ACG is surely something not to be ignored in marketing.
2.User experience is the key
to the Lazy Economy.
From food delivery to automatic cooking machines, Gen Z are fond of the things that make their life a little bit easier. According to statistics from Taobao,Chinese people paid RMB 16 billion for their “laziness” in 2018. Gen Z’s demand went up by 82%, the biggest rise in all age groups. The ten-billion-level market embodies the booming of the Lazy Economy.
When Gen Z label themselves as lazy, pessimistic, housebound or Budda-like (having no desires, no needs, and no expectations), they are actually trying to tell others about their lifestyles and values.
The quintessence of the Lazy Economy is spending one’s time and money on things they consider the most important: ordering take-out saves the time of cooking and buying things online saves the trouble of window-shopping. Thus, brands need to think hard on how to provide service and experience that Gen Z would like to pay for in a shorter time.
Such a mindset of “laziness” stems from a pursuit of higher product quality and a better experience. Gen Z tend to deem service assistants in luxury stores boring and unnecessary and products hidden behind glasses like sacrifice in temples intimidating. What they want is a shop like home where they could feel comfortable walking around. Many brands have come to this realization and made changes to how they operate their stores: people can have delectable meals at IKEA, buy ice-cream at Kith in New York, or enjoy hip-hop music when they walk into Opening Ceremony.
3.Sustainability and information
transparency are of great value.
Growing up in an era where people are bombarded by information, Gen Z has better abilities to sift through information and make smart choices. That’s what makes them the pickiest buyers online. However, some managers underestimate how mature their customers are, thereby putting their brands in a hard position to sell products. Therefore, only by building up values recognized by youngsters can brands stand out in competition. Marketing plans against this rule will only hurt credibility.
LV priced its normal-looking earbuds with lackluster functionalities at $1000, which is $700 higher than others. Since the price doesn’t match the design, numerous young customers have posted reviews online calling the product a “fraud”.
Having witnessed climate change, a huge economic recession and impacts of social issues like inequality, Gen Z have grown a better sense of responsibility and higher perception of values. They are ready to pay for brand premiums for causes like sustainability, anti-animal-abuse and organic food. This is not only the case in America, but anywhere else in the world.
In the world of extravagance, environmental protection is rapidly gaining awareness among brands and designers. Everlane, a fashion brand from the US, started making clothes with plastic bottles and recycled down and painting its silk with environmental-friendly materials. It also publicizes its cost, so that its customers trust, understand and like the brand more since they know exactly where their money goes. As a result, the brand has more than a million fans on social media, and many stars chose to endorse it. In 5 years, it has been valued over $1.7 billion.
4.An aesthetic revolution:
the look is the trend.
Today, consumers pay special attention to how products look. Instagram-worthiness is an important indicator of a product’s popularity.
Perfect Diary’s beauty products co-made with National Geographic, the Forbidden City and BV all became the fad when they were rolled out. Gen Z care more about design factors of a product than their previous generations. Gen Z members on average start skincare 5 years earlier than Gen Y members in their life.
In addition, Gen Z are more tolerant to diverse needs: 20% of men born after 1995 use lip balm and BB cream on a regular basis. Make-up for men is an especially prominent manifestation of the aesthetic revolution in China.
#3 Gen Z,the new target of companies
Mobile internet accompanied the growing of Gen Z. Product value, instead of luxuriousness, is the thing that attracts them the most. The elevated importance of the generation prompted many brands to make corresponding changes to their marketing strategies.
In 2015, Gucci timely developed plans that helped it notch success. Half of its annual turnout is from customers under 35. It overtook Hermes and became the toughest opponent of LV. In addition to Gucci, Dior is another one of the fastest growing luxury brands. What they have in common is that they are both competing for young consumers by communicating with Gen Z in a proper manner.
The food industry also sees fierce competition in the youth market.
Last July, Fanta released a series of commercials called “It’s A Thing”. It focused on the four most popular flavors and presented the creativeness of young people. Fanta’s cooperation with Snapchat offered tools that enabled customers to better create and share.
#4 Inspirations from Gen Z
When marketing goods to Gen Z, companies should pay more attention to mobile websites and apps than to e-commerce websites. Sephora, as an established brand, has always been doing well in online-offline integration.
On the one hand, it developed a digital membership system and has been trying to reach new customers on all digital platforms like websites, app and Mini Programs. On the other hand, it introduced in its offline stores cutting-edge technologies like a virtual trial system and cloud shelves. Meanwhile, its Mini Program has brought remarkable benefits. Statistics show that members accumulated on its Mini Program are 2 years younger than those from other channels (app, stores, etc.), which is proof that Mini Program is a powerful tool to help brands draw new customers in a targeted manner.
Since Gen Z is also a generation of mobile devices, brands should prioritize them in their digital strategies and designs of user experience and UI. This is particularly important in China, for 98% of China’s internet subscribers use mobile gadgets as their main terminals.
Gen Z members share similarities but are also different in their own ways. Even if they are on the same platform, they are distributed in different interest groups. They have more ingenious and diverse methods to interact with the world. Thus, brands need to choose specific groups to do in-depth targeted product design and marketing.
Gen Z is soon to be the hardcore consumer group that major brands bend overbackwards to win. Brands can best boost their sales by getting themselves younger. Only by appealing to Gen Z in ways it likes can brands retain their largest customer base.