Interview with Wavemaker’s Whitney Fishman Zember on Engaging Gen Z
We stepped into a day in the life of 16 Gen Zs for a week when they shared journal entries (in written and video formats) with us, in order to gain a deeper understanding of how marketers can insert themselves into their days in the most useful ways. We spoke with Gen Zs across the U.S., from a mix of backgrounds, both students and professionals, and those living in rural, urban and suburban settings. For a deep dive into what we discovered, download our latest report, A Day in the Life of Gen Z.
We wanted to speak with a senior marketer to get their view on some of the themes discovered in the research, and ask how they think marketers can reach Gen Z most authentically. We recently had the pleasure to sit down with Whitney Fishman Zember, Head of Innovation & Consumer Technology at Wavemaker. Looking for more inspiration on how your brand can insert themselves into Gen Z’s day? Read on!
Wattpad Brand Partnerships: How can brands reach Gen Z in ways that make their content easy to find and simple to engage with?
WFZ: Look at what Gen Z is doing and where they’re doing it, and join them there. Don’t fall into the trap of creating a new technology and expecting them to come to you—your brand must find ways to integrate with the platforms they’re already on.
For example, with online concerts set to continue, Spotify looked to make it easy for fans to learn about virtual events, and has integrated event listings for shows on any platform.
Marketers need to ask themselves how they can tap into the behaviors Gen Z is already doing. Ralph Lauren recently collaborated with Snapchat to allow users to access virtual branded apparel inspired by real Ralph Lauren looks to dress their personal Bitmojis. The outfits featured are also shoppable. Innovating in platforms that already exist instead of looking to drive users to a new one will allow for greater success in connecting with Gen Z.
Wattpad Brand Partnerships: Gen Z puts a lot of pressure on themselves to work hard. How can brands support them in this way, while also giving them needed moments of levity or escapism?
WFZ: Brands should look for simple ways to drive utility. First, look to understand the frustrations in their everyday lives and look for ways to alleviate some of their pain points. Here’s a recent example—teens (and grownups) everywhere are experiencing a new phenomenon called Mascne, breakouts caused by constant mask use. Peace Out, a skincare line targeting Gen Z, repositioned their existing products to combat the late breaking Gen Z skin challenge.
Marketers don’t always need to be thinking in terms of large-scale campaigns, but should look for the micro-moments where they can make an impact. Particularly during a global pandemic where studying and working from home has its challenges, brands should look for ways to alleviate hardships even in small ways. One example—during the early stages of Covid-19, Zoom lifted its limits on video calling for free-tier members.
Wattpad Brand Partnerships: How do you predict the future of retail will look like?
WFZ: A lot of the things that happened during the pandemic in the world of retail simply expedited the inevitable, such as the explosion of e-commerce. Similarly, the brands that have gone bankrupt would have eventually faced that fate, but the process was accelerated. In the middle, many who could, shifted their entire model to e-commerce. Microsoft is far from bankrupt, but retail no longer strategically makes sense for them, so they’re shuttering their stores.
The future of retail will remain mixed; we'll always have consumers wanting to shop from home and others who will always want the in-store experience.