Understanding Gen Z better with Jackie Balchin, Senior Social Strategist at NetBase Quid
At this year’s Observe Summit, we’ve asked some of our speakers to take part in a challenge: To use social data, to take a fresh look at cultural trends that have shaped society over the last 12 months.
And Jackie Balchin, Senior Social Strategist at NetBase Quid is going to be sharing insights into Gen Z and telling you everything brands need to know to tap into this audience. We caught up with her ahead of Observe Summit to learn more.
Can you briefly describe the challenge you'll be tackling at Observe Summit this year?
We will be looking at the online Gen Z – currently aged 10 to 25 - conversation to understand broadly what their interests are: what drives them to share posts online? What subject matters resonate with them the most? Which brands do they discuss and share positively and negatively?
Why do you think this topic is so interesting to analyse?
This generation are the current young adults/young adults to be. Therefore, a big demographic who will be setting trends and driving brand strategies in the future. They are discovering their interests, what they like/dislike, they are shaping and building their future. They’re the future parents, future house owners, future employees, car owners (or early stages of these items) and for a company to know what, for instance, future parents are looking for (more sustainable brands, less plastic, less greenwashing, more transparency) is invaluable in order to get the strategy, messaging and positioning right.
Can you give us an idea of what you expect to find from your analysis?
I’d expect to find broad conversations about politics, (more around general distrust) and support shown more for NGOs, and smaller groups that are actually making a difference. So, wanting brands to be more sustainable but stop making “promises" and see some actions. (no greenwashing).
I also expect to see them talking about wanting a different way of life and not just a 9-5, so their working hours expectations, wanting companies to be more conscientious of childcare, mental health, wellbeing etc. Essentially, I expect them to want to work for companies that are more diverse and more fully reflect society at large.
Wellbeing conversations might feature, and what that means to them: the balance of selfcare and self-love. I wouldn’t expect this audience to be “model/slim” obsessed, rather embracing nature. I’d expect a healthier food conversation, people having allotments, less fast food. A return to nature maybe? Perhaps veganism or more “imperfectly vegan”
What's the biggest benefit of using digital conversations to gain insight?
For a brand, digital conversations are unprompted feedback. Users are talking amongst their peers, or sharing what is important to them which, if others are sharing similar opinions, provides a door to what is important to an age group, a gender, or just generally the public.
When we use traditional methods of research, we as brands ask direct questions, (which is ok as we need an answer to those questions) but it already leads a consumer to think about a certain thing. It doesn’t let them necessarily express what else they think about the brand or the industry as a whole. When in focus groups or responding to questionnaires, the consumer may not feel as comfortable to speak freely about the brand or their wishes. It’s also pressured by a time limit etc. whereas digital conversations are “free” and unsolicited, so can help brands determine consumer perception and trends in the industry.
And digital conversations are a fingerprint to what interests a nation, an age group, a gender or non-binary, a consumer group, beyond brands. Knowing this information makes a brand react to changes more quickly, innovate and stay relevant.
Why is it important for brands to consider using social data analysis within their growth strategies?
Because social data is not just about knowing what is being said about your brand or competitor now, but what is being said about the industry and macro topics, like sustainability, plastic, like “how a generation wants to work”. Listening to this consumer behaviour and attitude change is what keeps a brand agile and able to respond to changes quickly.
How do you see the use of internet data evolving?
I think the public is much more aware of social listening services, (especially when they talk on more open platforms like Twitter and Instagram) so what is being shared may be more curated rather than spur of the moment organic posts. However even this can be indicative of how people want to be perceived, as that will determine trends, aspirations etc. Whereas conversations on forums and blogs will remain more “real” more “raw”.
This brings me to the second point which is that for a brand to have a good picture of a consumer group, a wide range of data points is needed, not just online data points, but also offline, sales data, search trends, email open rates, owned platform analysis, etc.
This means not having data isolated but instead working together. Therefore, Internet data will continue to be valuable, even if how consumers speak changes, (i.e. more curated). However, it will be vastly more valuable when married up with other data points.
We are already seeing this marriage of data sets happening amongst our most advanced clients and can only see this “trend” continuing to grow.