GLOBAL IMAGE MAGAZINE

Gear Up Your Image For Gen Z

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Manage your ABCD of Image to cater better to Gen Z clients

In the last eight years of my practice as an image consultant specializing in individual consulting, I first struggled and then learned a great deal from one specific set of clients, those in Gen Z. Gen Z’s are more racially diverse, highly tolerant, and very tech-savvy yet risk-averse. As a millennial, it was difficult for me to understand the characteristics of this generation.

Gen Z has now started entering the workforce sooner than any generation ever could have; hence, they need us more than any other generation. But the question is, are we ready to cater to Gen Z?

the total attention span of an average Gen-Z is eight seconds… eight seconds! Didn’t we all learn that it takes seven seconds to create a first impression?

Let’s first understand who is Gen Z?

Those born after 1995-96, also known as the post-millennial or iGeneration (I Gen). Born or growing up during two great recessions and major terror attacks, they saw their parents and relatives struggle with career, money, and stability. However, the boom of technology also provided a formative experience. Gen Z’s are: 

  • Digital natives – Being born in the digital era, they are the first true natives of technology, unlike those of us who are adaptors to tech. Having answers available to all their questions at their fingertips gives them the feeling that anything is possible.
  • Multi-taskers – What they lack in attention span they make up in multi-tasking. This generation needs continuous updates and simulation. They prefer to work on multiple tasks at a time and on average, Gen Z’s can work on five screens at a time. The attention span is less, but once you have it they will give you their undivided concentration.
  • Entrepreneurs – They desire an independent work environment and look for jobs that fulfill this. If they do not get a viable option in employment, they don’t shy away from entrepreneurship.
  • Highly educated – They don’t believe in traditional education and are more likely to not go ahead with a college education but to pick a completely new skill, educate themselves online, and pursue it as a career.
  • Diverse and liberated – They are highly social and, with access to the Internet, their circle of friends includes people around the world who they would have never met otherwise. This makes them more open to different cultures and races and to truly care for them.
  • Philanthropic – They have an innate desire to change the world. Don’t be surprised that they will fight for a group of people you have never met in your life or even heard of.
  • Cautious/anxious – Growing up during the great recession, they are more likely to be cautious in their habits or lifestyle. They are highly anxious, and one in 11 suffers from ADHD.

So with all this information, how do we work with them? To make it easier, let’s break it down by ABCD:

1. Appearance

Gen Z understands the need to be presentable as being on screen is second nature to them.

Gen Z doesn’t want anything not real. They just don’t want to be marketed to, they want to know the people on camera and behind the camera and everything the brand stands for. This resulted in a key trend in clothing, Normcore – a combination of normal and hardcore.

Gen Z understands the need to be presentable as being on screen is second nature to them; however, they want to keep it as real as possible without compromising comfort. As a result, we are seeing more athleisure clothing in our wardrobes despite speculation that it is just a trend.

As image consultants, we need to be open to our clients asking for normcore, keep it real, fashionable, and more comfortable. They also see shopping as a social experience and rely heavily on influencer marketing. Keep yourself abreast of new brands online, what major influencers are wearing, and what their social circle is wearing.

Gen Z does not have brand loyalty; they will switch to another for convenience. Fast shipping, I-kiosk, or virtual try-on will win them anytime over Zara or H&M. As a personal stylist, knowing this and beyond should be in our repertoire.

2. Behavior

They believe in facts rather than statements, hence social experiments provide the evidence in a fun way

Technology exposure has shaped the behavior of Gen Z, unlike other generations. They are very diverse and liberated in their thinking and thus understand the importance of people skills. More than 48 percent said that they would like to improve their social and interpersonal skills.

By 2025, a sharp increase in the number of the independent and entrepreneurial workforce means they require people like us to help them prepare for future.

How to coach: Using the tool of a social experiment, convert modules of etiquette, body language, interpersonal skills, etc. into a small social experiment which they can perform in their group and record their own experiences. They believe in facts rather than statements, hence social experiments provide the evidence in a fun way.

Avoid any kind of stereotyping and do not give examples of fictional characters. Chances are they might tune you out and go back to their screens.

3. Communication

Focus more on digital content for all your consultations, use videos, infographics, apps, and games.

As we already know we are dealing with a generation that loses focus easily, the answer to it is gamification. We need to make all our content short, crisp, and virtual.

Gen Z will not listen to everything we say for hours; however, a short video or gamification of your concept would do the job. Hence, focus more on digital content for all your consultations, use videos, infographics, apps, and games.

4. Digital Presence

They can teach us how to use digital platforms better

Nobody understands the meaning of individuality and showcasing it on digital platforms better than Gen Z. Although they can teach us how to use digital platforms better, our input on how to communicate their individual image on the screen is something they highly appreciate.

If the client wants to look strong, confident and independent, we need to know:

  • How to showcase this strong, confident, and independent person on Instagram, on Snapchat, on LinkedIn, on Facebook as well as on Twitter
  • Which platforms he/she should be on to communicate
  • What medium he/she should be using. Videos, blogs, vlogs, virtual reality, etc.

There are a lot of other beautiful qualities of this generation and in times to come we will have more data and information to help us know them better. As Gen Z enters the workforce and their purchasing power increases, we can’t afford to act within conventional frameworks. We need to work on a deeper understanding of Gen Z clients – one which is more on the job and two-way for this ever-evolving generation. Remember, someone invested in us, now it’s our time to invest in Gen Z.

Sources: Forbes, Future Workplace, Huffington Post, i4cp

  • Sonia Dubey Dewan, AICI CIP, is the Founder and Managing Partner of the Indian School of Image Management (ISIM). She is an Entrepreneur, an Image Consultant, an International Keynote Speaker, and Published Author, and the first Internationally Certified Image Professional (CIP) in the AICI India Chapter.

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