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Captivating Gen Z: The power of experiential marketing

With over 46% of the South African population making up the Gen Z generation (12-27 years old), it is that key brands know exactly how to effectively build efficacy, trust and affiliation within this audience. What makes them pull out their phones more than Tik Tok, their latest Instagram story likes and their Uber Eats or Deliveroo order status?
Captivating Gen Z: The power of experiential marketing

The answer is shared and memorable experiences. According to a report by American Express, 87% of Gen Z and millennials are willing to splurge on once-in-a-lifetime experiences. This generation places high value on unique and meaningful experiences over material possessions. Or according to the statistic above their savings accounts…

The power of shareable moments

Shareable moments are those that resonate deeply with individuals, compelling them to share their experiences with their social networks. These moments can take various forms-an emotional connection, an impactful visual, interactive experience, or a unique brand interaction. So how can South African brands create experiences that people want to talk about and share?

1. Leveraging local festivals and events:

  • 69% of Gen Z event attendees wish events were more engaging, indicating a high demand for interactive and immersive experiences at events.

South Africa is home to numerous vibrant festivals and cultural events, such as the Cape Town International Jazz Festival, Durban July, and National Arts Festival. Making it the perfect place to target Gen Z consumers!

Brands can create activations around these events, integrating local music, art, and cuisine to create relevant experiences. For example, a beverage company might set up a branded lounge at the Durban July, offering free samples and a photo-booth for memorable photo opportunities.

Brands that have done this successfully: Vuse with their “Make the Move” Durban July Campaign.

At the Durban July, Vuse aimed to create a fun and inspiring puff space where guests could chill, puff, and discover Vuse products. Tradeway Promotions led the activation, setting up four smaller pop-up spaces to strategically engage with as many consumers as possible. These pop-ups were placed in strategic areas in and around the event, enhancing the brand’s visibility and allowing more attendees to experience Vuse products. The approach ensured widespread interaction and maximised the event’s impact. See the video below on how this was brought to life.

Captivating Gen Z: The power of experiential marketing
Captivating Gen Z: The power of experiential marketing
Captivating Gen Z: The power of experiential marketing

2. Incorporating local art and heritage:

  • 65% of Gen Z say authentic brand values, matter more than the lowest costs.

Utilising local art and heritage in brand activations can create a strong connection with the community. Displays and installations featuring street art by local artists can attract attention and encourage social sharing. A fashion brand, for instance, might collaborate with local designers to showcase a collection inspired by South African art, encouraging attendees to share their experiences on social media with a unique hashtag.

Brands that have done this successfully: Absolut Vodka’s “One Source Live” Event

Absolut Vodka’s “One Source Live” event celebrated African creativity and heritage by bringing together artists, musicians, and fashion designers from across the continent. Held in Johannesburg, the event featured live performances, art installations, and fashion shows that highlighted the rich cultural diversity of Africa. By creating an immersive experience that combined art, music, and fashion, Absolut Vodka successfully engaged attendees and encouraged them to share their experiences on social media. This event not only celebrated African heritage but also positioned Absolut Vodka as a brand that values and supports local talent.

Captivating Gen Z: The power of experiential marketing

3. Community-centric campaigns:

  • 60% of Gen Z are willing to spend more on brands that support causes they care about.

Campaigns that give back to the community resonate deeply with South African consumers. Activations that involve community improvement projects or partnerships with local charities can create powerful, shareable moments.

For example, a company might organise a community clean-up event, providing branded materials and creating a dedicated hashtag to encourage participants to share their efforts online.

Brands that have done this successfully: Nedbank’s #TeamUp4KZN Campaign

The experiential aspect came from the hands-on involvement of over 2,200 soccer fans who helped clean up the Durban coast, collecting over 12.5 tonnes of waste. This direct engagement not only provided immediate environmental benefits but also fostered a sense of community and collective action. Participants shared their experiences on social media, spreading awareness and encouraging further participation. This campaign effectively combined social responsibility with experiential marketing, creating a tangible impact and strengthening community ties.

Captivating Gen Z: The power of experiential marketing
Captivating Gen Z: The power of experiential marketing

4. Influencer partnerships:

  • 44% of Gen Z consumers purchase based on an influencer’s recommendations.

Collaborating with influencers who align with the brand’s values and target audience can significantly boost the share-ability of an activation. Influencers can provide authentic, relatable content that resonates with their followers.

For instance, a sports brand might partner with a popular fitness influencer to host an in-person workout session, encouraging followers to participate and share their experiences of the event online.

Brands that have done this successfully: Castle Lite’s “Unlocks” Series

Castle Lite’s “Unlocks” concert series involved collaborations with major international artists and local influencers to create a buzz around their events. For these concerts, Castle Lite worked with influencers to promote the events, share behind-the-scenes content, and engage with fans on social media. This strategy helped generate significant online engagement and excitement, making the concerts highly anticipated events. The influencers’ posts, stories, and live videos created a continuous stream of user-generated content, enhancing the visibility and impact of the campaign.

Captivating Gen Z: The power of experiential marketing
Captivating Gen Z: The power of experiential marketing
Captivating Gen Z: The power of experiential marketing

Creating shareable brand moments through innovative activations and bearing the share-ability aspect in mind when creating these events is a powerful strategy to enhance brand visibility, recall and engagement within the Gen Z population.

Interested in identifying other ways we can support you in fostering deeper connections with your consumers?

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