TikTok and Gen Z: Now is the Time for Established Companies to Connect

five Gen Z looking at a cell phone together, with S&P Global logo on bottom left corner

S&P Global Feature Story with Jason Dorsey about Gen Z

I shared with S&P Global how vital it is for companies to connect with Gen Z to stay competitive now and in the years to come.

  • Having a clear, results-based digital and social strategy is critical to succeeding with Gen Z
  • Many Fortune 500 companies are now finding their footing with Gen Z by adapting to meet this new generation
  • The Walmarts of the world have a finite amount of time to successfully align their brand with Gen Z

As a generational speaker, researcher, and author of Zconomy, a Top 10 Business Book of 2020 on Forbes.com, I shared how important it is for companies to position themselves to win Gen Z consumers now—and how some are already succeeding. Below are a few of the key ideas I shared with authors Katie Arcieri and Anser Haider recently at S&P Global. Click here to read the full article.

Companies must go to where Gen Z lives…online, and especially on social media

If brands want to be successful with Gen Z, they must innovate to engage, build trust, and create excitement with this incredibly important generation of trendsetting consumers. Gen Z, born from about 1996 to 2015, is already the fastest-growing generation of consumers and the #1 driver of emerging consumer trends. Understanding and adapting to them can drive tremendous growth, market defensibility, and long-term success. Not adapting to win this generation can create equally negative consequences. I share exactly how to win Gen Z as consumers and trendsetters in my virtual keynotes and strategic work with clients—from CPG to financial services.

For the S&P Global article, I shared my perspective that Walmart was very smart in trying to work with Oracle to buy TikTok in the U.S. As I shared with S&P Global, “The TikTok investment would have allowed Walmart to very quickly reintroduce themselves to the generation and stay sort of front-of-screen.”

Due to external circumstances outside of Walmart’s control, the deal broke down. However, the attempt shows that Walmart is willing to take bold, strategic risks to position themselves to reach Gen Z. This massive, influential generation spends huge amounts of time on TikTok already. Closing the deal would’ve given Walmart access to unparalleled data, a front-row seat to emerging trends, and potentially a great platform for both influencers and Walmart’s own private label brands.

As I share with leaders during my presentations and webinars, and with S&P Global readers, I noted: “Although most members of Gen Z (..) are too young to have credit cards, they have tremendous influence in the e-commerce space, both by getting their families to make purchases online and informing the trends on what people want.” In other words, while the spending power of Gen Z is still emerging, they already exert tremendous influence over their family’s spending as well as starting the trends that other generations then adopt—from consumer technology and investing to apparel and dining.

How Some Companies are Already Starting to Succeed with Gen Z

Many large brands that have focused on Gen Z for the last several years are already seeing results—and also creating barriers for other brands in their market that have not yet adapted. As I shared with S&P Global, “Amazon has been able to successfully attract Generation Z with its Alexa devices. Etsy Inc. is also popular with Generation Z, along with eBay Inc., which draws younger consumers who want to sell items on that platform.”

While the much-talked-about TikTok deal seems to be off for now, companies like Amazon, YouTube, and eBay have shown there is always a way to meaningfully connect with Gen Z starting right now.

Tick, tock, TikTok!

There are many steps that Walmart and all brands can take to win Generation Z as consumers. I shared a few strategies with S&P Global: Walmart could invest in technologies that integrate with social media and collaborate with online “micro” influencers who only have a few thousand followers but have garnered trust among Generation Z. And most importantly, “Walmart is going to have to double down on their digital strategy, particularly as you look at social media platforms, and continue to increase their effectiveness in analytics to make sure that they are reaching Gen Z in the right way, on the right platform, at the right time in the most personalized way.”

No matter what America’s largest retailer does, it must continue to do so with urgency. The estimate I shared with S&P Global shows that: “Walmart has a roughly three-year timetable to gain awareness among members of Gen Z and persuade them to purchase online as they come of age. That’s doable…especially given that the company’s pursuit of TikTok shows it is ‘not afraid to take risks.’” I cannot stress enough that companies should not be afraid of finding ways to connect with Gen Z, even if it means your CEO singing off-key in an ad!

Along with my co-author, Dr. Denise Villa, we write about exactly how to market, build trust, and win Gen Z as consumers in our latest book, Zconomy: How Gen Z Will Change the Future of Business—and What to Do About It. Check out the book or audiobook to hear our insights into Gen Z, as well as gain a new perspective on what shapes generations—including your own generation.

How Are You Connecting with Your Gen Z Customers and Employees?

There are many challenges with the uncertainty happening around us. In spite of this, leaders, marketers, and managers must ensure that their business can engage Gen Z today and for years to come. In fact, this has never been more essential for employers and marketers as well as for Gen Z’s own future.

At CGK, we are continuously researching how Gen Z and all generations are thinking about shopping, purchasing, brands, family, the economy, credit, work, and much more. My team and I are providing these insights in executive briefings, webinars, and virtual keynote presentations to help leaders at all levels be accurately informed with missing data and solutions to drive results at this incredibly important time.

Contact my friendly team here for information on our custom research and generational advisory services to help your team solve challenges across generations fast.

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