A Gen Z Mini Series: How would you sell lemonade to Gen Z?
My dad still remembers watching a TVC for R Whites Lemonade as a teenager – the ad had a catchy jingle with the hook: ‘a secret lemonade drinker’. Knowing his parents would never let him buy such a sugary drink, he saved up his pocket money and ran down to the sweet shop to buy a bottle. After sneaking it back upstairs into his bedroom, he drank the lemonade and sang the jingle like a true ‘secret lemonade drinker’.
Over 50 years later he recalls this story with the same mischievous energy as if it were yesterday. It just goes to show the excitement for purchasing continues throughout life and for every generation. Only now, we don’t have to count our pennies to visit a local sweet shop, we have contactless, and a global marketplace that’s accessible at the click of a button.
In 2021, people under 25 will make up 41% of the world’s population (Facebook). And with the spending power of $140 billion, Gen Z is too big a group to ignore. So how can marketeers capture Gen Z’s excitement and harness our spending power in 2021? Here’s some thoughts on selling to Gen Z, from someone who knows.
As a Gen Z strategist I can speak from experience when I say my generation has an attention span a third less than that of millennials (Forbes). My friend will send me a meme on Instagram, and it’s forgotten by the next time I see her. In comparison, my millennial brother will DM a post to me and bring it up in conversation the next day. Grabbing attention is an issue, as is retaining that interest.
For those who have yet to interact with your brand, it’s likely your brand’s post will be out-of-mind in just 8 seconds. This ever-tightening spotlight can make some brands fall into the trap of focusing too much on just doing something “creative” to get noticed. But doing something differently for the sake of it doesn’t necessarily mean your audience will stop scrolling. Remember Kendall Jenner halting a protest to offer a police officer a can of soda as a peace offering? That Pepsi ad surprised audiences for all the wrong reasons. Not only was it offensive, but it wasn’t relevant to what their audience expected from them. As Twyla Tharp said, ‘…you tend to rely on memory and stick with what has worked before’ (The Creative Habit). Yes, it’s important to be creative and provoke a response but it’s a wasted effort if you don’t stay authentic to the brand’s roots and use it to stay relevant to your audience’s expectations.
Making a real connection with Gen Z is not easy, but one way to find the sweet spot between relevance and the unexpected is to find cross-category points in your audience’s interests. That’s what made a collaboration between IKEA and OFF-WHITE’s creative director Virgil Abloh so successful. Targeted towards students moving out of home for the first time, the line of affordable and fashionable homeware was a celebration of art, streetwear and practical furniture design. Called ‘MARKERAD’, the collection of furniture included a rug resembling an oversized IKEA receipt and a lit-up Mona Lisa poster.
Vary rarely do you see young people covet a clock or a chair, but that’s exactly what happened here. The collab was highly anticipated, gathering international attention across popular online publications, and to all those who want the pieces... I’m sorry to say the collection successfully sold out in 2 days. What made the event so successful was both IKEA and OFF-WHITE found a way of leveraging what their best known for. IKEA – for its functional, Scandinavian designed homeware and OFF-WHITE – for its bold graphics and high-quality streetwear. Therefore, the collection stayed relevant to what their audiences would expect from these brands. They were smart to realise the targeted Gen Z audience not only love the streetwear aesthetic, but we also want to live in a functional, practical home. Making it a no brainer for anyone who would be tempted to buy it. They were able to double up on their reputations, do the unexpected, stay true to their own brand identities and truly surprise and delight.
In the UK right now, Gen Zers list ‘driven’ and ‘fast learners’ among some of our top attributes (YouGov), which is why 87% of us have focused on learning a new skill or educate ourselves on a new topic since the COVID-19 outbreak (YouGov). Being in your early 20s is already a time for expansive learning, throw in a pandemic and our newest coming-of-age generation has had to focus on the little things, and find joys out of a world in limbo.
So, if you were planning on selling lemonade to Gen Z, how would you do it?
Dear reader, here are some thought starters:
- Do you understand your audience’s varying needs and where their interests lie cross-category?
- What are the subcultures that aren’t being explored or where are the places and stories that no one is aware of?
- Try new techniques, experiment with new kinds of campaigns, how else can you communicate your story?
Written by Tom King, Gen Zer and Junior Planner