Marketers have focused on the Millennial generation for years. They represent the largest subset of the population, and with the youngest of the generation now fully into adulthood, there’s a lot of spending power in the group.
However, the next generation, Gen Z, is now entering the workforce and establishing their own source of disposable income. They account for a full 25% of the US population, so they’re a group that marketers should be courting now. If you can position your brand in a way that appeals to the Gen Z mindset, you could be setting yourself up for a lifelong relationship between your brand and this young adult generation.
Who Are They?
Pew Research Center defines members of Generation Z as anyone born between 1997 and 2012. This means that, at present, the oldest amongst them are joining the workforce, and the youngest are still in grade school.
The key difference between this generation and older ones is that Gen Zers are the first group to come of age in the fully digital world. They grew up with high-speed internet, smartphones, apps, and social media. This fully digital life has affected the way they think, behave, and buy.
Shorter Attention Spans
Millennials have gotten flack for their short attention spans – they can focus for about 12 seconds at a time. But if you think that’s bad, Gen Z is even worse. According to VisionCritical, the average Gen Zer can focus for about eight seconds.
And it makes sense: This generation grew up scrolling through social media feeds, where information flies by a mile a minute. But what does this mean for marketers?
It means that wordy ads, traditional video advertising, and any form of communication that would take more than a few seconds to digest will likely be ignored by Generation consumers. Think about creating standalone images with little type, short videos on Snapchat, and quick stories on Instagram this is the kind of content this group will notice.
A Different Definition of Celebrity
Because Generation Z was the first to grow up entirely with social media, the people they look up to are different from those who older generations admire. While Millennials and their elders would identify Hollywood stars or musicians signed with major labels as their heroes, many Gen Zers think of YouTube sensations and Instagram influencers as their celebrities.
Because these influencers are (in theory) representing themselves, Gen Zers find their personas to be more authentic and relatable. It’s aspirational: If this regular person could become an online influencer and lead the incredible life that they do, why couldn’t I do the same some day?
This means that marketers need to think differently about how they advertise. It’s not about putting together a flashy, expensive campaign featuring the star of the latest superhero movie. Gen Zers will be more excited to see sponsored posts on their Instagram feed, with the influencer giving them a “behind the scenes” look at how the product or brand they’re advocating for has improved their life.
Looking for Authenticity
Generation Zers are all about authenticity. Tied in with influencer culture, they know when they’re being “sold at,” and they do not like it.
Like the Millennials before them, they’re looking for brands with meaningful social purpose. But unlike Millennials, they’re going to be more sensitive about the way that purpose is communicated.
Using marketing channels that feel authentic is key. That’s where a social marketing strategy comes in. Striking the right balance between generating engagement organically and paid options that integrate well with organic content is the key to getting noticed by Generation Zers without coming on too strong with a sales pitch.
In Five Places at Once
The average Gen Zer is juggling five screens at once – TV, laptop, smartphone, smartwatch, and tablet. That means that if any content comes up on one screen that they find boring or inauthentic, they can just turn to one of the four other screens nearby.
If your consumers are in five places at once, then you need to be in all of those places, too. You must have a presence across all of the channels that Gen Zers use.
If your video ad rolls before their favorite YouTube clip, and they turn to another screen to wait it out until their real content starts, then you need to be on that other screen, too! Greet them with an Instagram post on their smartphone or branded content on their desktop.
Emphasis on Individuality
Even more so than the generations before them, members of Generation Z are all about a personalized experience. They want to feel that a brand really knows and understands them.
This means you should be leaning on lead management technology to get the job done. Understanding how a customer has interacted with your brand in the past – what they’ve purchased, how and when they’ve reached out, and where they go on your website – provides you with valuable information about their individual needs and wants.
If you are tracking these relationships and know that an individual made a purchase last week, then you can send them an explainer video that gives them tips and tricks on how to make the most of their new product. And when they visit your website again, you can greet them with personalized suggestions for similar or complementary products.
This is the kind of personalization that makes Gen Zers feel seen by a brand, and it’s what keeps them coming back. While it’s impossible to manage on your own, automation and AI tools make it easy for marketers to master that personalized touch.
Because the first wave of Gen Zers is just beginning to enter the workforce, we don’t fully know how they’ll behave as adult consumers. But we do have a sense of how they think and view the world. Marketers can use this information to create messages and campaigns that speak to this up-and-coming generation.
Want more info on reaching Gen Zers and other target audiences? Contact us today to see how LOCALiQ can help. We use data collected from over 125 million consumers in our network of more than 100 markets to help you determine the best marketing strategy to reach your specific customers.