As money starts to transfer into the hands of Gen Z, brand awareness allows businesses to get a head-start in capturing these future customers’ loyalty and turning them into valuable patrons in the long term.
I recently read an article about high-end designer brands Gucci, Prada, and Luis Vuitton opting to advertise to younger audiences on TikTok. They’re doing that despite the fact that an estimated 41% of TikTok’s audience is between the age of 16 and 24, so most of them are just starting in the workforce and can’t even afford their products. These designer brands are aware of the trends and where the money is flowing, so they’re making a downpayment on large potential returns.
Now that I’m older, I’ve realized that many of the decisions I have made in brand choice or store preference came from my familiarity with the brand. An example is my decision to purchase my groceries from Costco over Sam’s Club or the other alternatives (Walmart, Target, Food Lion, etc). I never really thought about how or why I chose Costco until I drove past a Sam’s Club near my house. It made me think, why would I travel an extra 15 minutes to get my groceries from Costco when I could buy from Sam’s Club near my house?
The only reason I chose a membership at Costco was because of my positive experiences with the company growing up. I remember occasionally accompanying my parents to the store to buy groceries. From what I remember, it was always a pleasant experience. I remember being offered food and drink samples—which was oddly exciting as a kid. My parents never had a hard time buying groceries in their stores. I remember the big open isles allowed me to pretend-drive the cart and drift around corners without endangering anyone’s ankles. I even felt like a VIP when my parents would get gas at Costco fuel stations while others used public stations.
Because of these experiences as a child, I associate good things with the Costco brand. So when it came time to choose which grocery store to buy from, it was a no-brainer—despite the inconvenience of a longer commute. Costco is just one example of my purchasing decisions being influenced by early exposure to a brand as a child.
By definition, brand awareness is the process of creating a brand presence by providing awareness, emotional connection, value, accessibility, and relevant differentiation for your audience. Brand awareness, focused on future customers, is valuable to a business. It gets more people familiar with your company and develops a long-term relationship with the customer as they enter the stage of early independence and start making their own decisions.
A consumer’s journey to making a purchase is fairly complex. It requires a perfect amount of brand exposure, awareness, contemplation, and eventual decision-making. With an increasing variety of options from competitors and economic complexity, it is now more difficult than ever to close a sale, and even harder to retain that customer in the long run.
This strategy is underutilized but is starting to be implemented more frequently, as we have seen with the designer brands advertising on TikTok. Looking at the numbers, Gen Z is the fastest-growing economic power worldwide. Their income is on track to grow 400% over the next decade to $33 trillion and will hold more than a quarter of global income by 2030. Gen Z is expected to surpass Millennials’ spending power by 2031. I still see a lot more room for opportunity and creativity in this strategy, and brands from different industries can integrate this into their marketing plan to edge out a competitive advantage.
An example of a brick-and-mortar store would be to invest in the aesthetics of the store. They could include leisure activities, landmarks, games, and other attractions (AR and VR?) that can enhance the experience for children and teenagers who are not yet customers but are accompanying someone to the store. It can be as simple as Walmart allowing kids to try out consoles in the electronic section.
Investing in brand familiarity to future customers is like selling a product to a customer who doesn’t yet exist but will later be a valuable lifetime customer to the business. Assuming your industry and product offerings will still be relevant in the next ten-ish years, this strategy is very advantageous.
To build a business that is sustainable, predictable, and scalable, brands must execute effectively throughout the conversion journey. They must strategically guide their target audience from one stage to the next. They also must recognize the importance of investing resources patiently to develop awareness and an emotional connection to retain customers over the long term.
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