Behaviours, not birth years, define generations. Gen-Z are not just the young inhabitants of the 21st century, they’re a marked departure from the societal identities that precede them. On a superficial level, yes they are “technological natives”; more accustomed and devoted to screens than generations before – on a deeper level, what they’re really used to is instantaneous and all-encompassing access to information, people, pop-culture…. the list goes on. At a glance, these may not be the kind of insights that fuel new marketing strategies, but as a whole they present a warning against treating Gen Z as a homogenous generation and making the same mistakes that have been made when marketing to Millennials.

Our consumer centric planning approach at the7stars meant that we wanted to talk to Gen Z first hand to find out more about them, rather than rely on secondary sources of insight. So we hosted a workshop with 36 x 14-17 year olds – we gave them real music artist marketing briefs to think about and respond to, and listened to their views about music and media.

When it comes to music, Spotify and YouTube were cited for their fluid forms of consumption as opposed to the rigidness of physical or even downloaded music – and even more interesting was the extent of their co-dependence; music discovered on YouTube finished on a personal playlist on Spotify. Attention-grabbing songs on Spotify resulted in searches for the video on YouTube. Playlists on both platforms were crucial; both as vehicles for music discovery but also as staples of their personal library that could also be shared with friends.

There was also a clear hierarchy of media choice. There was an unsurprising prevalence of the more ephemeral social media platforms such as Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter. Snapchat brought up some interesting points of discussion; with Gen Z using it to communicate to their friends via photos rather than via standard messaging, while Twitter was found to be divisive among those who loved it for the access it provided to the daily lives of the people they followed and those who found no use for it in their social repertoire.

So what do Gen Z want? Their responses to the artist briefs showcased universal themes – they crave inclusion and content that is ‘real’ rather than curated. As a result, the personality of, and closeness to the music artists took centre stage -reflecting the unprecedented access provided in the age of social media. Knowing the artist on a more personal level was something to be expected, not just desired. They showed that they are clearly more active consumers who search for a greater level of inclusion within campaigns– capitalising on fan mechanics to drive engagement and gamification are a clear-cut way of supporting this.

Insights like these are being fed back into our planning process, demonstrating the opportunity for brands to get to know Gen Z, and better still, involve them in tailoring marketing communication strategies we know will engage.