Today’s young people are arguably way more concerned about social and ethical considerations than any youth generation that came before. They’re a subset of society who feel passionate about engaging in debate around subjects such as climate change, social injustice and the local community, to name a few.
This presents marketers with both opportunities and challenges. Brands must not merely reflect the mindsets of their audiences, they must actively participate in making the world a better place, whether that’s through messaging or action. There’s no better platform than Snapchat to facilitate such an approach, with the platform reaching 90% of all 13 to 24-year-olds and 75% of all 13 to 34-year-olds in the UK, and the Snapchat Generation displaying a high propensity towards social consciousness.
Recent Snapchat research found 82% of Snapchatters believe they have a personal responsibility to create the change they want to see in the world. Snapchatters are 48% more likely to feel responsible for the future of the planet and are 36% more likely than non-Snapchatters to care about the environment. And eight in 10 of them believe companies have a role to play in solving social issues.
But marketers should also be wary: avoid being too heavy-handed, resist being too prescriptive and – perhaps most pertinently – steer well clear of tokenism.
We ask how the Snapchat Generation is leading the way. And – crucially for brands – how to get involved.
Shirin Majid, deputy executive creative director, VCCP Kin:
The best brands and products make people’s lives better. After the year we’ve had, there’s no room for brands that aren’t part of a positive change in the world in some way, whether it’s addressing mental health in a way that’s relatable to its audience, or stepping up sustainable practices. But the purpose needs to be authentic to the brand and its product
Brands must spend time identifying the right purpose and examining how to integrate it into the marketing mix, employee engagement, CSR etc, so that it can serve that purpose well long term. Young people sniff out the fakers a mile away.
There’s not a brand in the world that shouldn't be doing its part to normalise inclusion and diversity. But not every brand should necessarily actively promote it. Brands that actively promote social inclusion and diversity must do so in a way that’s authentic to the brand, its product, its heritage, and its audiences. There’s a great grey area when it comes to promoting inclusion and diversity - is it for purpose or profit? It shouldn’t start with commercial goals and its right to play a role must be earned through consistent brand behaviour and action.
Promoting positive change is a marathon, not a sprint and can’t be achieved in one campaign. It’s about acts, not advertising, it’s about when a brand ‘lives’ the purpose long term. So it doesn’t start with a marketing brief, it starts with translating brand values into actionable change. You’ve got veteran star players like Unilever and Patagonia who live their values from the inside out - and you’ve got the newbies with products born from purpose like Pangaia and Veja.
Avoid ‘badging’ a purpose, jumping on the bandwagon of a cause because it’s a hot topic, or going so deep on purpose that you lose sight of the product and the role it plays in people’s lives. Purpose shouldn’t be trend based, it should be people based.
AR is a brilliant way to provide deeper access to information, new ways of seeing, tools for self-expression, safe places to connect, and ultimately bring their audience together to rally around a cause or issue.
Personally, I don’t think encouraging users to produce user generated content is the right way to look at elevating CSR messaging. Brands should never look at UGC as a way to promote their own CSR messaging. First and foremost it should be about elevating the people’s voices, not the brand’s messages.
Snapchat’s path from discovery to purchase or action is incredibly useful! Whether it’s about social commerce or social change: direct access to engaged audiences with the potential to drive immediate action with myriad creative tools to do it. What more can you ask for?
Dino Myers-Lamptey, founder, The Barber Shop:
Most successful brands became successful because they were created with a strong and relevant purpose. The problem with a lot of brands is that competition often makes their original purpose less unique. Rediscovering your purpose or seeking out a new one, is about understanding the culture of your time, the momentum and direction. Brands that are brave enough to articulate the mood of the moment don’t align with purpose, they define purpose.
The world is more global and more competitive for brands than ever before, and brand choices have moved from being symbols of status to being symbols of action. Action in supporting brands that subscribe to a future that you want to be part of. The brands that don’t care, and take more than they give back, will be the brands that are replaced by the brands which do.
Marketing should be the exciting, well-told story of a brand, though at its heart should be an authentic story. Marketing should work just as hard on the product truths and the customer experience, so that every contact with the business is also with the brand.
However, overreacting to trends, or cultural movements and communicating messages that are not consistent with how your business operates are the big no’s.
Snapchat and its use of AR is huge, as the mobile device is unquestionably the most engaging and attached media channel, and AR creates a magical and novel experience for users which captures attention. Most of all, though, it allows for intelligent layers of information to cross over into the real world, meaning AR can encourage those glued to the screen to appreciate what lies off it as well. The opportunities for brands are endless, so they shouldn’t limit their imagination, but always respect the space and the rules of engagement.
In terms of UGC, users are producing content all the time, but to do it for a brand, they have to believe in the brand, though the transactional incentive has to make sense. Most CPM models don’t make sense for users, but models that work off CPAs and reward for sales tend to work much better on both sides.
The quicker we can understand the intention and needs of a user and get them to convert, the better. Brands should want to only be as useful and entertaining for the optimal amount of time, so anything that helps cut the journey down is invaluable. Creative needs to understand the journey and points within it to tailor messages and incentives appropriately.
Kayleigh Didcott, strategist, Publicis•Poke:
The “Snapchat Generation” consists of a myriad of complex interests and opinions. But one shared characteristic stands out – an unshakeable need to make the world a better place.
Unlike the generation before – which favoured perfect curation – this bolder, younger generation aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty. To talk openly about issues that would make previous generations uncomfortable.
Want proof? Snapchat’s research found more than three-quarters of its users believe they have a personal responsibility to create the change they wish to see in the world. The platform is uniquely placed to connect its users on the issues they care about most – be it the environment, politics, mental health, diversity or social equality.
Where brands come in
Used for good, Snapchat is a platform not only for connecting, but also for action. Snapchatters want to see brands promoting more progressive values, with 8 in 10 of them stating that they believe brands have a role to play in solving social issues.
In our own study, we found that by speaking up and tackling societal issues, three quarters of Gen Zers would tell their networks about the brand in question. Tapping into these micro-communities creates an interesting opportunity to engage an otherwise hard-to-reach generation.
The flipside: in lacking the evidence to support a claim, brands risk instantly losing trust. Snapchatters can smell inauthentic displays from a mile away, and they won’t hold back on sharing their distaste with their networks. The key for brands to truly win hearts is in not just saying, but doing, and wholly supporting issues from the inside out.
The “Snapchat Generation” is here to stay. It’s time for brands to listen up and get snapping for good.
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