Generation Z fuels the digital marketing explosion

Good-bye baby boomers--even millennials are somewhat easier to target than the true digital natives, Generation Z. Marketers struggle to build brand loyalty, but digital printing helps deliver the message.

Diet Coke employed HP’s SmartStream Designer Mosaic software to produce two million bottle designs.
Diet Coke employed HP’s SmartStream Designer Mosaic software to produce two million bottle designs.

“Generation Z, born between 1995 and 2012 are not brats,” says Doris Brown-McNally, HP Global Brand Innovations Manager. “They were simply raised with a different aesthetic. They are, in fact, the most sophisticated generation ever.”

These remarks came in Chicago, June 4-5 at Smithers Pira’s “Digital Print for Packaging US 2018.” “Even millennials (born between 1980 and 1994) grew into using technology,” says Brown-McNally. “Generation Z is the first generation of true digital natives."

“They are engaged by what I would call philanthropic marketing,” says Brown-McNally. “Marketing connected to causes and events. For these consumers, the purchase of a brand is a reflection of their values and interests.”

Gen Z may take it to the extreme, but philanthropic marketing is not new. Back in 2010, the Cone LLC Cause Evolution Study found an astonishing 85 percent of consumers have a more positive image of a product or company when it supports a cause they care about. The report also says 80 percent of Americans "are likely to switch brands, about equal in price and quality, to one that supports a cause."

Consumers even weighed in on causes that win their brand loyalty including: economic development, health and disease, hunger, education, clean water, disaster relief, environment, homeless & housing, crime and violence prevention, equal rights/diversity.

Amarula cream liqueur from Cape Town, South Africa, launched a “Name Them/Save Them campaign for African Elephants. Label producer SA Litho, produced randomly-generated digitally printed labels for a limited edition of 400,000 bottles, representing the 400,000 African elephants that experts now estimate remain in the wild. Consumers got to design their own elephant on-line and each elephant label had a unique name.

“Both millennials and Z’ers also want brands to recognize them as individuals,” says Brown-McNally. Diet Coke offered the same iconic bottle shape, along with a dizzying number of design variations, that delivered personalization through visualization. Choose your favorite. The one that suits you.

Finally, these new consumers demand entertainment. Inspired by the adult coloring book trend, Mondelēz International let shoppers design their own Oreo cookie pack delivered to their door in days. Prices paid on-line for these personalized “gift” items are far greater than store shelf equivalents. And generate a terrific amount of social media reinforcing brand loyalty.

Digitally printed “collector series” labels, cans or other packaging can introduce consumers to new flavors. La Catrina wine offered a range of varieties but only one, chardonnay, was selling briskly. They hired a local artist to design a family of “Day of the Dead” characters on full-bottle shrink labels. Brilliant, colorful label designs encouraged fans of the chardonnay to sample other offerings and to collect every label design in the family. Empty bottles filled with twinkle lights have been spotted on social media.

Digital printing can be integrated with customer order data, including personalized photos, home teams, family events, favorite bands at concerts, etc. to drive “microburst” marketing events yielding millions of social media touches. Some of the sports and entertainment campaigns can get complicated and expensive with licensing fees, however.

Want more engagement? Point your smart phone at a bottle of 19 Crimes wine, and the label comes alive and tells you a story.

Some old folks are shopping and customizing on-line as well. As Karen English, Printpack’s Marketing Director, told the Digital Print for Packaging audience later in the day, “How else could you buy a party-size, brand-name bag of chips adorned with a Green Bay Packers logo? Not in the grocery store in Wisconsin, but rather delivered to your brother-in-law’s doorstep in Dallas, TX, just in time for the big Green Bay vs. Dallas game!”

Packaging World is a media sponsor of Smithers Pira’s “Digital Print for Packaging US 2018.” See Packaging World for more on digital printing. See Smithers Pira for more events in sustainability, e-commerce and digital printing.

New to PACK EXPO International in 2018! PACKage Printing Pavilion in the South Hall.

  • Digital printing for folding cartons, flexibles and corrugated packaging
  • Cutting-edge labeling, coding and marking
  • On-demand, high-speed and cost-effective tech
  • Smart packaging applications

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