It’s happening. The oldest Millennials (people born between 1981 and 1996) are closing in on *gasp* 40. The generation that pretty much changed the way we market, is being pushed aside (gently, of course) in favor of a new crowd. Like a former pageant winner passing down the crown, the predecessor is none other than Generation Z. This generation, born between roughly 1997 and 2010, seems to have inherited some pretty admirable traits around values, family, and contributing to society as a whole. This may mean marketers will have to dig deep and get to the core of what their company really stands for.
Rumor has it that, not surprisingly, the name “Generation Z” was borne from an online contest. Also known as IGen or Post-Millennials, members of the Generation Z cohort have been described as “old souls” who now make up about 25% of the population and have purchasing power that surpasses the $40 billion mark. Members of Gen Z carry characteristics that are both similar to and a bit evolved from those of their parents and grandparents. Millennials are thought of as digital natives even though the majority of them were born before the widespread use of the internet. For Gen Z, however, the Information Age was wrapping up and technology was something they were born with, not something they had to adapt to. As Gen Z ushers in the Experience Age, they have the advantage of lessons learned about the benefits and perils of technology. And, with that, they are savvy consumers who have a long list of requirements from the brands they shop.
A long way from the “greed is good” 80s and even more firmly rooted in realism than most, Gen Z has a pragmatic view of the world and they place a high value on family, financial stability, and socially responsibility. Despite their propensity to reach out and bring others together, they are well aware of privacy concerns so they tend to be more private and aren’t willing to share much personal information. As a result, they are less collaborative than Millennials who came of age with the first social media platforms and the beginning of the sharing economy. GenZers are natural researchers and are very good at educating themselves, so they are armed with information and reviews prior to making purchases. Because of a number of factors; it can be said that Gen Zers are just wired differently. Technology helped to validate their ideas and opinions and they take full advantage of its benefits to get what they need. For marketers, this means they need to ditch the hard sell copy, stand for something, be authentic, and respect their privacy.
Checking the boxes with this generation yields the gift of loyalty, but don’t try to force it; loyalty programs are of no interest to them. As is typical of this generation, you have to work for it and then they will let you know when they’re a fan. So where can marketers find Gen Z? A Pew Research study found that Gen Z uses social media, but not so much for the social part but to find product information and get reviews from their friends and family. Specifically, they use YouTube (85% of Gen Zers say they use the platform and 32% say they use YouTube more than any other social media site), followed by Instagram (72% say they use the platform though only 15% say they use it most) then Snapchat (69% use the platform while 35% say they use it most). Outside of social media, the survey shows that Gen Z gets their product information from email (1,515 votes), in-person (1,453 votes), ads (1,268), chat (1,159), and finally through a company’s blog (970).
Given the digital climate that Gen Z is growing up in, it’s no wonder that their average attention span has been clocked at…wait for it…8 seconds, which is 4 seconds less than Millennials and the first single-digit generation. And, they move between devices frequently. For marketers this means, among other things, that video views will be shorter (averaging 9.5 seconds), slow loading pages won’t be tolerated, and mobile optimization is a must. The demand for convenience and speed are real and the rewards are big. The list of must-haves is long, but don’t worry, though GenZers are a little more private, when properly engaged, they are eager to be brand ambassadors and share information with their friends and family. What it comes down to is that they don’t want to be marketed to, they want to market with you.
Each generation brings with it a set of personality traits that force marketers to create new strategies, implement different tactics, and shuffle platforms. And, promoting across generations can be even more challenging. The hopes for Generation Z are high and by reaching them on the right platforms in a way that is honest and insightful you can earn your brand followers for years to come. In the end, maybe marketing altruism is even easier than pumping out promotional copy and marketers can relax and be real.