‘I’m fine. I’m totally fine!’

We love a good natter over lunch at Razor HQ. (We chit-chat all the time but it’s even better with food.) Anyway, one of our recent lunchtime discussions steered itself towards social media and growing up in the digital age.

It’s been a hot topic for quite some time and I always end up with a feeling of sadness when thinking about it. While today’s teens have so many opportunities, there’s a flip side that isn’t so happy and rosy; there’s what feels like constant self-marketing, rating self-worth by number of likes, and feeling a need to always conform to the masses. I once read somewhere that 8 out of 10 girls around the world avoid a range of everyday activities because they feel bad about the way they look. 8 out of 10 girls?! How did things get so bad?

A couple of hours after our conversation ended and, as if perfectly timed, a contact shared a Dove advert on my LinkedIn newsfeed and I just love it.

As part of its Self-Esteem Project – designed to help kids with body confidence – Dove created an ad that scratches beneath the surface of what being ‘fine’ really means. It focuses on the complexity of young people’s minds – from being bombarded with impossibly perfect imagery to struggling with self-image and trying to figure out who you really are, all whilst going about your normal day to day. It makes me tired just thinking about it all!

Alongside this ad, they partnered up with Cartoon Network’s Steven Universe using a series of videos to educate kids about body confidence and self-esteem. The short one-minute clips cover topics such as teasing and bullying, comparing looks, media, and celebrities.

We’ve seen brands like ASOS and Misguided challenging the norm and targeting girls before now, but their campaigns tend to focus on the older teen audience. This is one of the first brands I’ve seen actively targeting tweens and younger and talking so openly about the pressures of living in a social media world.

When we carried out our own Razor Kids study ‘The Beauty Project’ with teens and tweens back in the Spring, Dove wasn’t a brand that was cutting through with any of the girls and if anything, was perceived as a bit ‘mumsy’. This move is bound to increase positivity towards the brand for our future shoppers and hopefully encourage more parents/friends/teachers/relatives to take a bit more time to check in and ask what ‘I’m fine’ actually means.

Well done Dove!




‘Nothing beats a Londoner’

An advert has generated a spirit I haven’t felt since the 2012 Olympics; one of genuine pride and excitement to be a Londoner. And I’m not even its target audience!

Nike wanted to reconnect with young Londoners to demonstrate that the American superbrand really ‘gets’ them and is aligned with their values. To achieve this, it created a three-minute film that tells the stories of everyday young Londoners aspiring to be athletes. There’s an obligatory smattering of famous sporting and musical cameos thrown in – but they are not the stars of this show.

Judging by the overall positive response on social media and the 2.8m views on You Tube since its launch six days ago, it’s clearly hitting the mark.

So why does it work? A myriad of reasons no doubt. I can’t speak for Gen Z but here’s what jumps out at me:

  • Celebration
    The focus is on young Londoners themselves, not on the Nike brand. The film not only showcases a diverse group in terms of ethnicity, but also in terms of the broad variety of sports covered and, importantly, who we see playing them (think gender neutrality). Nike is celebrating the diversity and individuality of London’s Gen Z through their athletic pursuits.

  • Authenticity
    They’ve done a really good job of making it feel authentic; something we know Gen Z expects and demands of brands these days. The true-to-life locations (i.e. the streets of Peckham), the grainy texture of the shots (by using 16mm film) and the use of 258 real young Londoners all help to capture a genuine depiction of London youth culture as we know it.
  • Energy
    The pace of the film creates a momentum akin to the nervous energy you feel at the start of a match or when you’re about to perform; that sense of potential achievement when you’ve been working so hard to reach your goals. This inspirational energy is powerful and no doubt speaks to the aspirational and can-do attitude of London’s youth.

Nicely done, Nike. 

Same same but different

‘Imagine you’re doing a weekly shop of supermarket own brand products.

At checkout, you’re allowed to exchange just one product for a branded label. Which would you pick?’

Last week we hosted a wonderful work experience student who asked us this question on her last day. It created quite the discussion amongst us – including whether we think Generation Z* are less brand loyal than Millennials…and I’ve been mulling this over ever since she left.

Now I have to admit that I only know a small handful of Gen Z’s. And the majority of my research has focused on Millennials and their predecessors, so I feel a little out of touch with this cohort!

What I can glean (and I’ve more to learn), is that Gen Z are set to be a super-charged version of Millennials and will pose a greater challenge for brands to engage and retain.

I say super-charged Millennials because in a lot of ways Gen Z are looking for the same things – only, seemingly, amplified tenfold! For instance, they choose brands that are authentic, they want fast and friction-free customer service across channels, they favour experiences over possessions, they’re driven by content that engages and entertains, and they feel empowered to create change in the world.

However, there are two fundamental differences (no doubt there’ll be more!) that mean brands will have to work harder and find new ways to market to these consumers to stay relevant:

1. Gen Z are the first true digital natives. They’ve grown up (almost from the get-go) with easy and immediate access to the internet and it’s become an integral part of how they live their lives. They’re addicted to tech. I’d argue that this means they’re:

  • Exposed to a wider variety of brands – which will likely engender a natural promiscuity in buying behaviour. Thus making it harder to generate loyalty.
  • Likely to tune out of lot of advertising and focus on what feels relevant to them. The rise of influencer marketing is a clear reaction to the demand from consumers – and most likely much of this cohort – for relevant, credible content that feels more authentic (even if it’s not!). And this is only likely to continue.
  • More focused on the present and judging brands on what they see and hear in the moment; placing less stock in brand heritage.
  • Looking to connect with brands that help them develop their own online image and enable them to connect with others through content and experiences.

2. They’ve grown up in the aftermath of the recession. They’re facing the prospect of huge university loans and a seemingly impenetrable housing market, which will no doubt make them more budget conscious. Brands will have to work much harder for a share of wallet.

So generating loyalty among Gen Z is definitely a challenge and brands will have to stay ahead in the marketing game to stand out from the crowd. Indeed, Gen Z is less motivated by loyalty programmes than Millennials, which means some brands may have to take a fresh approach to building loyalty with this generation.

However, it is clearly not an impossible feat. You only have to look at user numbers for Snapchat and Instagram or the success of brands like Nike and Forever 21 with this generation to see that loyalty is achievable.  The question is what are those brands doing exactly and how are they doing it? It’s time more brands tried to find out.  

*There are never clear cut dates for generations so, for arguments sake, let’s assume that we’re talking about anyone born between 1995 – 2012