Gen Z has a lot in common with Alan Jones

Yesterday morning saw 100 or so marketing types enjoying a nice bacon and eggs breakfast at the Opera House while people from MCN, Habbo, Channel V and Fuel TV told us all about how the kids are down with their brands.  

And while there was inevitably something of a sales message in their research, there was also interesting stuff to be dug from yesterday’s attempt to define “Generation Z” (By the way, I’m not sure I got the memo – I thought we’d all decided to call them iGeneration?)

But half of the benefit of being at these types of events is that even if you don’t buy everything the speakers have to say, you get the opportunity to be away from ringing phones while you think about the topic.

And admittedly the you-would-say-that-wouldn’t-you cynics would look a bit more closely at some of the messages of yesterday’s forum:

But there were also some underlying messages that got me thinking about consumer loyalty. And there have been a couple of other media events this week, which take me in that direction too.

Take exhibit A – 2GB. This is a radio station that runs on the dual cults of Alan Jones and Ray Hadley. It’s an older, intensely loyal demographic that doesn’t even fall away when Jones is sick and off air, as yesterday’s audience figures demonstrated. And when they tell the punters to buy chips, then that’s exactly what they’ll do.

But that’s not to say that all Australians share that media brand loyalty. Look at exhibit B,  the way that Nine’s Monday night audience fell away this week, the instant Underbelly finished its run. There’s little media brand loyalty to Nine there. (Of course, loyalty has to be earned, but that’s a different debate altogether.) I’ve not seen data, but I wouldn’t be surprised if baby boomers and older were the ones who did stay most loyal to Nine. Which suggests that Gen X ,and Gen Y even more so, are promiscuous with their media brand choices.

But what of Gen Z – those from 13 to 24, as yesterday’s event examined them?

If you want to find out what a loyal brand champion looks like, check out Sarah Jane Owen, who I’d never dare describe as exhibit C, evangelising the Reebok Freestyle shoe

 I urge you to watch, if you want to see just how passionate people still get about brands.

(A declaration of interest, by the way. SJ – who now works for MTV Digital – was editorial assistant at B&T for a while when I was the editor. At the time I didn’t spot the talent she displays in the Lipstick Ladiez blog. It was my loss.)

And exhibit D, another person within that demographic is YouTube’s Natalie Tran, a Sydney student with an extraordinary following.

It’s not just the sheer number of people who watch every video she puts out (although, to take a typical example, one posted about a week ago has already had about a third of a million views – that’s nearly twice that of the most watched programme on pay TV last week). It’s the fact that more than 10,000 of those viewers have taken the trouble to give it a rating (it’s averaging five stars). And more than 9000 have left comments. Let me give you that number again – 9000. In a week. That’s loyal, and engaged.

It seems to back the claim in yesterday’s research that points to a “return to more traditional values”. Which means that the old lesson for brands of catching ’em young while habits are forming is back at front and centre.

Alan Jones described his ethos as “pick and stick“.

I think it’s coming back.

(Update: One point from the organisers. Although they were talking about marketing to 13 to 24-year-olds yesterday, they define Gen Z as being 13-18.)

Tim Burrowes


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