Gillette Vaira, Content/Social Media Strategist
For years, Millennials have overrun generational conversations. We read about them in the news. We learned how the economy has affected their spending habits and buying power. We witnessed how they behave and transact online. However, as Millennials move into their mid-to-late 20s and 30s, the generation that follows – Generation Z – is becoming more influential. If Gen Z is not yet on your radar – it should be. By 2026, researchers estimate Gen Z will be the largest consumer population in America. There is no doubt that this generation will impact your business, if it has not already.
Like Millennials, Gen Zs are digital natives. However, members of Gen Z – who were born between 1997 and 2012 – do not know a world without high-speed Internet or the iPhone. To put their worldviews in perspective, most were not alive when the September 11th terrorist attacks took place. They grew up during war and recession. As children, they witnessed major political and cultural shifts, resulting in the socially liberal and financially conservative viewpoints they have exhibited so far in their young lives.
These teens and early 20-somethings think and operate differently than any other generation studied in modern America. For example, it is common for Gen Zs to use at least five different screens – often simultaneously. Texting is their preferred method of communication. Gen Zs have influenced older generations with relatively new social artifacts, such as normalizing selfies and emojis. Researchers anticipate Gen Z will be the most educated generation in history – and these young people are highly motivated to learn and excel in their future careers. However, the combination of constant technology usage and their ambition to shine has also contributed to their high levels of stress and anxiety – dubbing them the most stressed age group in the United States.
Meeting Gen Z Expectations
As a full-service marketing firm, our team stays updated on marketing trends and best practices. We recently read Sarah Weise’s book, Instabrain: The New Rules for Marketing to Generation Z. Weise takes a deep look into how the brains of Gen Z work – and how we must adjust to meet this generation’s expectations in the marketing arena. Below are key insights from Weise’s research that we think are imperative for every company to keep in mind – no matter the industry.
This generation demands authenticity.
Brand loyalty is tough to earn with Gen Z, and they want an unscripted experience. According to Weise, 85 percent of Gen Zs find out about new products through social media. Yet, simply targeting this group through social media ads is not going to work. Instead, they want to learn about your brand through friends, family, and influencers.
The marketing impact: Take a deep dive into your brand, what it stands for, and how you can authentically incorporate your messaging into every channel. Consider giving Gen Z a behind-the-scenes look at your products or services, and encourage user-generated content. If you can gain their trust – and humanize your brand – Gen Zs could become some of your most devoted fans.
This generation expects personalized experiences.
Gen Zs want to have a say in how their individualized experiences are shaped, Weise’s research shows, and they demand choices. They want to have conversations with companies and brands, and they expect to be asked about their preferences. The more they are a part of a process – the more loyalty you can build with them.
The marketing impact: Be sure to reply to their messages and take part in the conversations happening on social media. Plus, think about offering gated content. They will gladly give you their contact information if you can provide them with value. And value is something they expect.
This generation is distracted.
Gen Z attention spans are about eight seconds – four seconds shorter than those of Millennials. Members of Gen Z view 62 percent more pages when browsing the Internet than other generations, and they are using social media channels about 100 times daily. Growing up with constant visual stimulation through technological devices has physically altered their brains. As a result, they process information more quickly and are multitasking pros.
The marketing impact: Catch their attention quickly. For instance, do not wait until the end of your promotional video to share your best stuff. Attract Gen Zs early in your messaging and visuals, and they could choose to be with you for the long haul.
We still have much to learn about Gen Zs and how they may change, as they enter adulthood, join the workforce, and transition into the next chapters of their lives. However, what we know now is clear: The way we communicate with and market to Americans is shifting with the expanding influence of Generation Z. If this generation is not a part of your target audience now, it will be soon. Now is the time to become Gen Z-ready.
Need to adjust your strategy? We get it. Gen Z is shifting the future of marketing – and you need to be prepared. Leave it to the Rebels. We can help you navigate this volatile environment and understand your target audience in order to make data-driven business decisions.