Gen Z is more diverse, better educated and far more digitally savvy than any generation before. Born between 1995 and 2010, they make up almost 30 percent of the world’s population. For online retailers like Asos, the fashion-loving, 20-somethings age group already accounts for half of their target audience and will completely overtake Millennials in the future.
“We need to understand this new generation if we want to be successful and grow in the future as a business,” said Sandra Kampmann, director of insight and analytics at Asos, during a panel discussion on how to adapt brands for the Gen Z market at Shoptalk Europe on Tuesday.
Going through the shift from Millennials to Gen Z is something the retailer has been actively working on for the last couple of years. “It used to be about finding the customers, bringing them to the site, servicing them. You used to win with things like delivery options and payment options that would give you a competitive advantage,” Kampmann continued in conversation with the president of consulting company January Digital, Sarah Engel. “Now, obviously none of that does the job anymore. It's really about the emotional connection.”
While Millenials had very few access points to fashion through magazines or TV, Gen Z is getting inspiration from everywhere. “Whether it's taking a picture of strangers or screenshotting Instagram, all these things are coming out from both qualitative and quantitative research. And so you need to find these different access points,” explained Kampmann.
A lot of these access spaces are taken up by social media, allowing companies to reach and target their customer group 24/7 anywhere, at any time. “Every Gen Z that I know has more social media followers than I think I have met humans in my entire life,” joked Kampmann. “So then it’s already clear, this is a channel that we need to be present on.”
Morphing shopping and social media
“What this is creating is a demand for almost the morphing of a shopping experience and a social media experience,” explained Kampmann. By incorporating social media-like features on its website, such as ‘Buy the look’ or ‘You might also like’ suggestions or allowing users to upload inspiring photos and share their wish list with friends, Asos is already successfully connecting the two spaces.
The retailer also collaborates with influencers, who serve as a great means to connect with its audience. “What this generation and social media influencers allow is that we find role models that actually apply to us – so all shapes and sizes, no matter what you look like. The internet and social media really allow that connection,” Kampmann said. According to her, Gen Z uses influencers not only for inspiration but also to see what looks good on them as well as to feel good about themselves and what they buy.
“We're about to launch a nano influencer network, specifically in the US,” Kampmann announced. “It is truly exciting, this is essentially tapping into our customer base. There are already people who are loyal to Asos – they have a few thousand followers – and they create that connection between us and the consumers.”
Emerging social media platforms such as TikTok cannot be ignored when attempting to successfully attract Gen Z, as they offer unique ways to engage with a brand’s community. For Black Friday 2021, Asos created the ‘#AsosAlterEgo’ campaign, challenging users to show off their best and scariest transformations over Halloween to promote its line of face and body products. The retailer tapped into different ad formats and solutions that TikTok has to offer, such as a custom ‘Branded Effect’ TikTokers could use for their challenge to stand out.
By working with professional creators and sparking engagement, Asos managed to achieve a 219 percent increase in relevant engagements as well as a 7.8 percent increase in brand awareness, according to TikTok for Business. “There was this massive hype which allowed people to be part of the experience which is a really big deal,” Kampmann concluded.
Asos’ director of insight and analytics saw one more opportunity in attracting Gen Z that could transform the whole brand image. According to Kampmann, the group starts very early on in the creation of their own paths in life and they’re seeking our educational sources, far beyond what would be considered traditional. “I think companies have an opportunity here to take a stance when creating their own strategies in the space and use their platforms to educate and share their knowledge, their research, and what they're learning. They will definitely tap into a large proportion of this generation, the ones that are seeking out the information and the education,” she explained.