Has anyone checked their Screen Time report on their phone lately? I was deeply shamed by my iPhone this week. I’d like to say it was all long-form journalism and educational podcasts, but to be honest, too much of it is pointless scrolling through social media thanks to lockdown-induced boredom. I love being at home and even I am climbing the walls, so I’ve been wondering how it might have affected me in my early twenties, and how people that age must be taking it. Judging from my highly technical anthropological research (doing some social media stalking), it seems that many aren’t taking it too well!
There is currently an abundance of melancholic longing among young people on social media, expressed through the medium of posting glamorous pictures from happier times when they could get dressed up, hit the bars, eat in restaurants, and go to parties. There’s a common thread among a lot of these images, and that is the fact that these bars, restaurants, and parties have been specifically designed to be as ‘Instagrammable’ as possible. The role that print, signage and graphics play in cultivating the ideal aesthetic can’t be overstated.
73% of Gen Z rate experiences over products, the more personalised the better, and they love to share these experiences with the world on social media. Print products are perfect for enhancing the aesthetic of an experience, and for providing personalisation down to every last detail. As Gen Z have $143billion worth of spending power and will account for roughly 40 percent of global consumers this year, it makes sense to think about how print enhances the personal, interactive and luxurious experiences that they desire.
Let’s say it’s Ashley the Influencer’s 21st birthday party, and she wants to make a big splash on social media. She’s picked out her theme and her colour scheme, she’s selected the menu and the cocktails, she has established a strict dress code, but she needs to go the extra mile to make sure everyone is sharing how fabulous the event is on social media.
How does Ashley use print and graphics to make her Instagram rivals green with envy? Establishing the event as opulent and luxurious starts before it has begun, with beautifully crafted and elaborate invitation boxes, maybe with a small gift that represents the theme inside – a Facebook invite is NOT on brand for Ashley. Then, when the lucky guests arrive, they see custom entrance graphics emblazoned with ‘Ashley’s 21st’ and probably an event hashtag, knowing her.
Once guests are inside, they are greeted by a Champagne Wall, adorned with foiled writing: ‘ ‘Pop the Bubbly, It’s Ashley’s Birthday!’ or something along those lines. For guests with a sweet tooth, a donut wall is installed too, and no influencer party worth its salt doesn’t have a designated ‘posing’ area. I’m sure you’ve noticed them popping up in bars and restaurants, maybe there’s a swing, or a flower wall, or a wall mural with a fun quote, and the establishment’s branding strategically positioned. Success! Lots of pics snapped, lots of content shared, and an event that was on brand, extravagant, and unique, with lots of added value and photogenic flourishes thanks to print and graphics.
For Gen Z and younger millennials, digital is in their DNA, but they are an omnichannel generation, favouring a seamless blend of physical and digital experiences. Nothing I have outlined in this post is a particularly new trend, but it is continuing to grow and evolve, and unfortunately, the myth that younger people tend to eschew print persists. This shows that there are many ways for businesses to forge long-lasting and meaningful connections with the younger generation using print, and it’s an example that shows how fun, modern, and exciting print can be.
Karis Copp is a UK-based writer, journalist and communications expert. With a background as an editor and public relations specialist in the print industry, she now works on a freelance basis covering events, writing on industry news and trends, and working with businesses to help them tell their stories and connect with their customers. Follow her on Twitter @KarisCoppWrites.