Pivotals are right around the corner - and with pockets full of money. Here are 5 steps to reach them through your marketing efforts.
The last decade marketers have been scrambling to come up with strategies and creative ways to get millennials (Generation Y – born between 1980-1995) to buy their products – but there are new players on the market, and they are even more demanding and tech-savvy than the millennials.
By 2020, 32 percent of the world’s 7.7 billion people will be born between 1995 and 2012. Today, they have an estimated indirect spending influence of $333 billion. We call this particular group of people generation Z – or the pivotal generation, as they will be referred to from now on – and they should not be ignored.
Pivotals vs. Millennials
The generational gap is exponentially getting larger with every generation due to rapid changes in society and technology. Generation X and millennials adopted the technological revolution and grew up alongside it. They adapted to it and watched it grow from nothing. The pivotals are born in the middle of it all, so the technology has always been there for them. They are not amazed by this, but rather take it for granted. For example, they expect a new generation of phones every year, and they expect them to be better than the last. Therefore the pivotals are going to be even more demanding than millennials and less forgiving when a product ends up being less than their expectations.
Millennials were constantly told that they could be anything they want; just go to school, get a degree and get a job. But pivotals have seen the struggles of the previous generation and realized that’s not true. Unemployment rate for graduated millennials has spiked and left many with hundreds of thousands of dollars in student loan debt. Pivotals believe you have to earn what you have – and work hard to get it. They have a much more cynical outlook on life and they believe you have to be unique to succeed. They have an entrepreneurial sense, and understand that a college degree is not everything – and sometimes not even necessary to succeed. They use social media to portray their unique personalities out into the world, and they are not afraid of being different. Meanwhile, Millennials are prone to conforming to their social circle and care more about what people think of them.
Pivotals have an expectation of when something good happens it will be shared on social media. If nothing is shared, then nothing happened.
They are focused on personal success and achievement, they don’t believe in luck, they believe that hard work and resilience will pay off in the end, and they want to go there themselves. That is why brands need to take a more supportive role in marketing towards pivotals. The message should be “We can help you get yourself there” rather then “We can get you there”, as would be the case with millennials.
“If you’re not with us, you’re against us”
The big Millennial value is environmental protection. They grew up with news about global warming, melting ice caps, animals going extinct and forests being cut down. Hence, they feel very strongly about this and it has for a long time been a way for marketers to appeal to that demographic. Pivotals are different – not that they don’t care about the environment, but they just see it as an issue that needs to be addressed. It’s a fact of life. However, they have a different struggle which they are willing to fight for, and that is the struggle for equality. Equality for gender, sexual orientation, race e.t.c. This is a sensitive issue and if brands don’t adhere to the same values they will promptly be dismissed by pivotals. Pivotals have an “if you’re not with us, you’re against us” mentality, which is important for brands to understand and make sure is represented in their branding.
Pitfalls of the Past
In an effort to reach millennials many brands have been the laughing stock of the internet with their tacky marketing strategies and desperate attempts at humor. Hillary Clinton’s most recent presidential campaign was ripe with cringe-worthy attempts at connecting with millennials and is a perfect example of the disconnect between millennials and big brands. Maybe that is one of the reasons why she had a hard time getting people from that demographic to vote for her. Another example would be the infamous “Live for Now” campaign from Pepsi, starring Kendall Jenner. It was destroyed on social media for being tone-deaf and disconnected from reality, exploiting serious social issues to sell more soda. With pivotals just around the corner, about to step in and dominate the market, brands have to change their approach in regards to marketing towards young people to avoid the pitfalls of the past.
Transparency is important to succeed when communicating with pivotals. These people have grown up with social media where fakers are being exposed daily. They are fully aware of the tactics that are used to manipulate and draw in consumers such as clickbait, paid promotions and elaborate highly edited media. This will not work on them; honesty and reality are what will get them on your side. The consumer is the hero of your brand – not the brand itself – and they will be the ones that put themselves in the driver’s seat. Your brand is just something they use along the way in reaching their destination. A more supportive role is required of brands today to connect with pivotals. The goal is that the brand enhances the personal image of the consumer.
In order to successfully market to this new mysterious generation, brands must understand what is expected of them:
- The consumer is the hero, not the brand. The brand is playing a supportive role in the consumer’s story.
- Be supportive of the social issues that are on pivotals minds today – like “equality and LGBTQ rights”.
- Be transparent and unafraid of portraying realistic views, such as body acceptance and diversity
- Give pivotals the chance to express themselves and their unique personality
- Make sure you are on the social media’s used by pivotals and knowing how to communicate on each of them
A great example of a campaign that successfully engages with pivotals comes from Vodafone & Voxi where they are using young creatives and influencers to engage with their audience and lets them control the message rather than imposing their own values upon them. Another example comes from AXE and their #PraiseUp campaign. That campaign is about eradicating the idea of traditional gender roles and be more inclusive and tolerant towards gender fluidity. It is reported that 56% of consumers aged 13 to 20-years-old say that someone they know uses gender-neutral pronouns. This is a great way to use a social issue to connect with pivotals on an emotional level.
Even today pivotals have control over large sums of money – through allowances, their parent’s money, and even through their own entrepreneurial ventures. The estimated total indirect spending influence of pivotals is $333 billion. The time to act is now, to start planting the seeds and be prepared for the inevitable influx of pivotals to the market in 2020.