Culture and trends
min read

How to win over Gen Z by using informational content to drive brand awareness

Written by
Izzy Hall
Published on
July 4, 2023
Last updated
January 22, 2024

What this article covers

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What are the key trends shaping Gen Z's behaviours? How can you authentically connect with this young generation? And how can informational content help you to supercharge your social media?

Whether you're struggling to gain the trust of Gen Z, can't quite nail the creatives, or are trying to get buy-in from senior leadership, informational content is the answer. In today's blog post, we discuss the key takeaways from our recent webinar, the session wArianna Hatchett from The Economist discuss key trends, insights, and the importance of running a brand awareness campaign.

Today, we're focusing on Gen Z's digital consumption habits, the power of informational content, and share a case study from The Economist's partnership with Pion.

What are Gen Z's digital consumption habits?

First things first, what sort of content does Gen Z want to consume? We shared four key areas that brands and marketers need to prioritise when creating content, explaining that it needs to be value-orientated, relatable, authentic, and educational. And with 74% of Gen Zers searching for information online and 72% looking to buy from brands that advocate their own personal values, it's hard to argue with the stats!

Group of Gen Z friends, hugging, laughing and smiling at the camera.

As we already know, ethical consumption is incredibly important to Gen Z - they're expecting brands to stand up for what's right and invest time and money in important social causes. "Gen Z is aware of the controversies surrounding forced labour, pollution, global issues, and equal pay", Rick shared, "and they're holding brands accountable." In fact, a huge 83% of Gen Z want brands to have a stance on social issues and 71% will buy from a brand that works with an influencer they trust - putting your ethical values at the forefront of strategies is a must.

You can learn more about the themes and trends that are important to Gen Z, including sustainability and mental wellness, in our Youth Trends Report, available to download now.

What is informational content?

So what is informational content and why is it so important when it comes to upper-funnel marketing growth? "It's about giving real value and helping you make smart decisions", Pion's Charlotte Flanagan shared. Educational material can be anything from a podcast to a blog (or as Charlotte referred to it, a "problem-solving best friend") - essentially, it's something that delivers value, establishes authority, and supports decision-making. "If you as the brand are sharing your expert knowledge and insights then you'll be able to position yourself as authoritative in your field, which will build trust and credibility", said Charlotte.

Group of Gen Z friends sat together and talking.

But, thanks to Gen Z's short attention span, it's important to make this informational content land as soon as possible. The second they get even slightly bored, they'll just scroll on to something fresh. Make sure your content is actionable, diverse, problem-solving, and eye-catching in order to have the biggest impact.

Why is informational content important for engaging Gen Z?

In the session, Charlotte and Arianna discussed the ways that informational content can help to engage Gen Z. Check out our three key takeaways below:

1. Inspires audiences

  • User-generated content is a fantastic way of sharing your informational content whilst stimulating ideas and motivating action
  • "Success stories will inspire trust and validate the claims you're making as a brand because you're showcasing real-life scenarios and experiences", said Charlotte. "It's a really positive outcome that others have had!"

2. Establishes trust 

  • Providing audiences with accurate and honest information demonstrates transparency
  • Consistency is key: "As a brand or organisation, it should be in your DNA to have a product that's high quality, that [offers] a great experience, and that provides information that is sound, fact-checked, and reliable", said Ariana
  • 42% of Gen Z say that when they've had a positive experience buying from a brand, that feeling will last forever
Two Gen Z sisters talking, laughing and cooking together, smiling into a camera.

3. Builds brands awareness

  • Engagement builds brands awareness, something that will lead to lifetime value and loyalty
  • Sharing informational content on a topic that ties in with your brand's values helps to build your identity
  • 98% of Gen Z will consider buying from a brand again if they liked the product
  • This is something that's particularly important right now, ahead of the Freshers and Back to School seasons. "When a student goes to university, it's such a key time in their life - it's when they're forming their own identity, when they're becoming who they are", shared Charlotte. "They're forming preferences on the brands they want to travel with them throughout this journey."

Want to know more about implementing strategies for your brand? Download the 5 Steps to Optimise Your Gen Z Content Marketing Strategy template to help you promote across multiple different marketing channels.

Case study: The Economist

Pion's brand partner, The Economist, had three main goals when they teamed up with them: 1) to introduce themselves to Gen Z audiences 2) to connect with students using a voice they trust (Student Beans), and 3) to promote their discounted subscription offering to students during the Back to School/Freshers periods.

Thanks to years in the field and research, The Economist already knew what kind of content Gen Zers were reading on their platform - content that's topical, relevant, and timely - and they knew that this needed to be incorporated into the partnership. For example, Gen Z is very vocal about the climate crisis, so when creating branded content, this needed to be one of the topics that were covered on the Student Beans site.

Three Gen Zers laughing together.

All content produced needed to be relevant and timely (think rising inflation, for example), and had to inform students whilst providing them with levelheaded analysis. This resulted in a multichannel takeover - videos, Instagram posts, YouTube videos - all covering important stories, powered by The Economist and voiced by Student Beans.

What were the key results?

So what was the result? Arianna Hatchett, Senior Marketing Manager from The Economist, shared the highlights:

  • Videos, branded articles, and a quiz resulted in 5.2 million impressions. Branded content specifically reached approximately 24,000 page views
  • The most popular article was 'If the UK goes into recession, what happens to me?' piece, which had around 10,000 page views. Unsurprising really, given its relevance
  • TikTok videos discussing Russell Group Top 10 universities had around 400,000 views
  • The results aligned well with The Economist's primary goals. As Ariana said: "It's really about trying something new and once you've had that initial reaction you can build from that in even more measured ways"

To summarise, there are three key things that brands and marketers need to prioritise in everything they do if you want to engage Gen Z: transparency, authenticity, and social responsibility. And, as Charlotte said: "If you demonstrate this to [Gen Z] through your educational content, you're onto a winner!".

Like what you've read? You can check out the full webinar, available on-demand, now.

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