Unveiling Generational Communication Preferences: Insights for the Future
At the European Association of Communication Directors Summit in Brussels, in 2023, I found myself immersed in captivating discussions that unveiled the ever-changing landscape of communication preferences among different generations. Led by the insightful Chloe Combi and the engaging Lewis Iwu, the two panels I want to share about, provided profound insights into the mindsets and preferences of Gen Z, Gen A - and the emerging even tought controversally accepted by the audience new Gen Zalpha.
Chloe Combi, a renowned author, speaker, consultant, researcher, and futurist, graced the Summit with her remarkable expertise. One of Combi's revelations was the shifting influences experienced by today's youth. Gone are the days of shocking parents and the establishment as a rite of passage. Instead, counter-culture experiences rooted in authenticity and positivity have replaced the need for rebellion. Established brands and individuals seeking to connect with these generations must inundate the digital space with credible information and influential figures. Combi stressed the importance of media literacy education in helping young people discern between what is real and what is not in this increasingly complex digital environment.
Combi's research also challenged conventional wisdom about social media preferences. While TikTok may be popular, she unveiled the trend of younger generations gravitating towards more niche and community-based platforms like Snapchat and Discord. This revelation prompts brands to reconsider their strategies and adapt to the evolving preferences of their target audiences.
Amidst the digital frontier, where generations collide and communication landscapes evolve, Combi urged us not to panic. She emphasized the enduring role of brands in the eyes of young people, who view them as more influential and trustworthy than traditional institutions. However, capturing attention is only the first step; effectively managing and engaging the younger audience is the real challenge, presenting an incredible opportunity for brands to leave a lasting impact.
In another compelling panel discussion, Alan Harris - Director of Internal Communications at NatWest Group - facilitated a thought-provoking exploration of generational communication strategies. Joined by panellists Rebecca Rico Irwin, Data Analytics Director at ATREVIA, Dagmar Mackett, Global Development Director at DRPG, Lewis Iwu, Founding Partner at Purpose Union, and Maria Linkova-Nijs, Communications Director at the European Chemical Industry Council, the discussion revolved around the relevance of the generational analysis for brands. While the Pew Research Center's decision to abandon this approach was mentioned, the panellists emphasized the importance of maintaining an open-minded perspective to effectively connect with younger generations.
The panel delved into the preferred communication channels of Gen Z, shedding light on the rising significance of platforms like Snapchat and WhatsApp. Acknowledging the legal concerns surrounding TikTok, the panelists underscored its indispensability for reaching younger audiences. In response to an audience member's question about how to navigate the safety concerns, the panelists emphasized that as communicators, it is our responsibility to connect with the audience, even if it means taking calculated risks.
In this melting pot of generations, the panel emphasized the power of diverse representation in communication strategies. Amplifying diverse voices and empowering young people to become influencers within their social circles emerged as crucial components of successful engagement.
The future lies in understanding the ever-evolving needs of younger generations, fostering authenticity, and championing diversity. Together, let us embark on this transformative journey and pave the way for effective communication in a rapidly changing world.