Updated: Feb 28, 2020
For a long time, millennials stood out as a major focus of marketers’ minds. Now, however, the landscape is beginning to shift. Generation Z (born roughly 1995 onwards) is growing up and coming into their own purchasing power. Even the ones that are too young to spend their own money are important, as they have influence over their parents’ wallets. This is a valuable group for marketers to keep in mind because according to Bloomberg, Gen Z is set to outnumber the global millennial population by the end of next year.
Members of Gen Z differ widely from millennials in which marketing strategies best resonate with them. This is because Gen Z has had different influences that shaped them. “Z” is the first generation to grow up in a world of widespread internet, social media, and smartphone use. On top of this, their early lives were impacted by the recession of 2008 and the “war on terrorism” following 9/11. These events, while they may not remember them, have had a substantial impact on shaping their worldview, values, and goals.
Gen Z hasn’t grown up with faith in the American Dream the way their Gen X or millennial parents did. They understand that working harder doesn’t always lead to more financial success. Instead, they want to see campaigns that put forward authenticity and advocacy. In fact, according to Inc.com, 93% of Gen Z stated that their openness to working with a company depended on the way that the company impacted society. What is the most challenging part of creating a marketing strategy for this generation? In a world of so much information, brands need to be able to captivate quickly; Gen Z has only about 67% of the attention span of millennials.
1. Utilize an authentic brand voice
This generation cares about brands that are reflections of themselves and their values. They don’t want the manicured idealism that the previous generation sought in their ads. Instead, Gen Z wants to see brands that feature diversity and care about social change. Of course, this can’t feel forced, so focus on causes that make sense for your brand. This generation’s interest is peaked much more often by endorsements from people that look like them. A great way to integrate real people into your campaigns is to utilize micro influencers - individuals with followings ranging from a few thousand to tens of thousands. Often they have a stronger connection with their audience than larger influencers due to appearing more accessible.
2. Create content that sticks
It is estimated that the average person, this cohort included, sees upwards of 4,000 ads every single day. On top of this, the shortened attention spans of Gen Z makes it even more challenging on marketers to create stand-out content. How do you do this in a way that grabs the attention of the young and impatient? An infographic by Adweek suggests that up to 95% of Gen Z watches YouTube videos, so try implementing your brand on that platform or making short video ads. The short attention span of this group is another reason why you should also state your brand’s unique selling proposition right out of the gate. Bonus points if you can do this in a way that draws on powerful emotions like humor. Lastly, you want your content to stick for the *right* reasons. One major marketing faux pas is trying to relate to the modern youth but missing the mark completely (go check out r/fellowkids if you need some more context). Before you share your content with the Gen Z world, do your best to ensure that it’s still relevant and will be received positively.
3. Market Digitally
This is the generation that was born with internet technology seamlessly integrated and practically at their fingertips, so marketing to them should reflect this. According to a study published by WP Engine, 27% of Gen Z stated that they could not go more than an hour without accessing the internet. If you want a targeted focus, heavy-hitting social channels for Gen Z are YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat, and Tik Tok. On these platforms, gifs, memes, and emojis can make a great impact. Another important statistic to note comes from a study done by ContentSquare; It showed that Gen Z is twice as likely to convert on mobile than other generations. This means that brands should focus on optimizing for mobile use - whether it be websites or emails, expect that Gen Z is viewing your stuff on their phones or tablets.
This has been just a small glimpse into what makes Generation Z unique among the generations that have come before it. With this new group of characteristics comes different needs that brands should put a substantial focus on if they want to see results.