Teens Hate It When Your Brand Does These Things

Authenticity is the key to connecting with all consumer segments, but particularly with Generation Z. More than any other generation before them, this group can sniff out weak attempts at connecting from brands. Here are the three biggest mistakes we see brands make when reaching Gen Z and teens:

  1. Being something that you’re not. Generation Z was born with the newest iPhone in hand. They know that hundreds of articles of research are available at their fingertips to answer any question that pops up in school, with their friends, or from a brand getting a little too pushy. Don’t fake it. Know what your brand stands for, own it, and create your own unique personality. This will attract far more brand fans than pretending to be something you’re not and trying to fit in. Gen Z and teens are a diverse group; the most diverse generation in American history, in fact. A lot of them are interested in a myriad of activities (badminton and sewing; rock climbing and soup kitchens) so there is no mold. Gen Z embraces quirkiness and individuality, and will respect brands knowing who they are and what they stand for. By seeing this, Gen Z is more likely to open up and take another look at what the brand is all about.
  2. Being nameless and faceless. Generation Z is all about equality and human rights. Brands that represent a cause or work with certain causes resonate with them a lot more, and make them more human to Gen Z. Hand in hand with creating a quirky, personable brand as mentioned above, brands that embrace philanthropy or somehow involve this in their outward personality to younger consumers creates a strong connection and affiliation. Gen Z wants to see brands as more of their friends that have the same concerns and questions as they do, but are also doing something about it (as the generation feels that they are as well.) If causes align, then the brand is connected with the user for a long time, as it not falls into their personal brand standards.
  3. Not Being Omni-Present. Teens are multi-taskers; they’re in front of a computer for more than 3 hours a day – and often times have as many as 5 screens up at one time, speedily switching from one app to another. Your brand needs to connect across those multiple screens in the way of content, brand advocacy, social influence, and video. This is a generation averse to advertising in the traditional form, but they want to connect with brands that share their values, are “human,” and “always on.”


About PlayOn!

PlayOn! is the expert on high school communities. Our mission is to honor and celebrate the commitment and achievements of high school students, parents, coaches, and teachers — inside the walls of the schools and in communities across the country.  Our services, products and programs exist for students and teachers by students and teachers. Our corporate partnership program supports this mission by teaming up with organizations that share our values and seek to support our communities’ needs.

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