What social media platforms will Generation Z prefer?

What social media platforms will Generation Z prefer?

There was a time when bars served beer in any old pint glass, fathers had their one brand of whisk(e)y and consumer feedback was received by post. Now, branded glassware is a given, no one wants to drink what their parents did and social media posts can go viral in minutes. In today's crowded market place, how do you get consumers to be loyal to your brand?

Research from the UK's Wine & Spirit Trade Association suggests it isn't easy. In a recent study, the trade body found that UK wine drinkers regularly change brands and have "little or no brand loyalty".

Earlier this week, the WSTA hosted a panel discussion, featuring Jon Forsyth, founder of advertising agency adam&eveDDB, which worked on The Haig Club campaign for Diageo, Sam Linter from English winery Bolney Estate, hospitality heavyweight and founder of Cafe Rouge Karen Jones CBE and Kristof de Wulf, co-founder of brand consultancy Insites Consulting.

The first discussion point that came up was authenticity. Jones believes that if you are not clear about what you are - and you can't genuinely and easily describe what your brand is - then there's no reason why customers should engage with it. She sits on the board at online fashion retailer Asos.com and believes being able to sum up your brand in one sentence is important. “Asos is: global fashion wardrobe for 20-somethings,” she says.

And, when it comes to 20-somethings, the panel was agreed: It's all about “me”. 'Generation Z' is the demographic group comprising people born after 1995. That's the next generation of legal drinkers we're talking about, then.

Get emotional

Connecting with them is where something greater than loyalty comes in, according to Forsyth. He says the pressure point evolving now is about emotion. “Brand loyalty is important and it’s great to tell the brand story and to inspire," he says. "What’s more important is to invest your time into connecting the brand emotionally with the target audience.”

So, how do you do that? De Wulf says consistency of message is important, citing the longevity of the 'Red Bull Gives You Wings' tagline. And, when it comes to the new 'me' generation, personalisation is key to making an emotional connection. He says people often assume the younger generation will be the most concerned about things such as sustainability, but in fact, he says, they are the least concerned. “It's all about them,” he says.

Speaking specifically about drinks, Forsyth believes getting beyond the advert and into a consumer's day-to-day routine helps create that emotional engagement. He says there's a limit to what you can do with drinks advertising because of regulation. “These brands have to stop behaving ... as pure-play alcohol brands and start thinking more about lifestyle. Advertising can only take you so far. In the end, you have start thinking more tangible.”

His work on Haig Club saw the reintroduction of an existing whisky brand merge with global mega brand David Beckham. Forsyth believes the success of the message was because Beckham is an investor and, hence, became part of the business. From a consumer's point of view, “it made it authentic”. There was a huge target number in terms of sales, he says, and, although he knew the product was always going to sell, the message of authenticity helped it get to the level it needed to. A year after the launch, Forsyth says it has reached its target. The next task, he says, will be to “start thinking about markets beyond the target audience it was first launched at".

Will they create a new marketing strategy or realign the existing one? Perhaps a look at the success of Diageo's latest efforts with Johnnie Walker and the progression of the Keep Walking message will provide some insight in the coming months.

Social work

When it comes to finding out what consumers think, tapping in to conversations on social media has never been so easy. Jones says the internet means brands can't fake it any more. “You're going to get exposed very quickly,” she says.

What have become traditional forms of social media – think Facebook and Twitter – may start to lose their relevance when it comes to reaching younger consumers. Forsyth warns: “Lots of these channels that are five or six years old are starting to attract an older consumer.” He believes younger consumers are looking for something different – including a need for speed.

Information will be exchanged faster and more visually, according to Forsyth. He believes the window in which to craft responses to social media posts is getting narrower. Beam Suntory's Jim Beam brand appears to be leading the charge on the fast, visual new social media front with its Snapchat campaign, announced earlier this week.

Voice-activated conversations and removing the need to click buttons will also become more prevalent, believes Forsyth, citing Apple's purchase of headphone maker Beats Electronics and also its voice-activated Apple TV.

As the world of social media becomes ever-more innovative and consumers become more sophisticated, the future of brand advertising seems almost unimaginable. We've come a long way since branded glassware, that's for sure.

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