Just when marketers were beginning to figure out millennials, a new generation is dominating headlines — Generation Z. The cohort following Millennials, this generation is larger in size than Millennials and Baby Boomers and only continuing to grow. These individuals are digital natives, born into an age where dial-up Internet had already passed. Because of this, they are the most tech-savvy generation yet and are projected to make up 40% of consumers by the year 2020. Media consumption is not just entertainment for them, but a lifestyle.
Pew Research defines Gen Z as those born during or after the year 1997 — making them currently 21 years or younger. Pew backed up this date for societal and political landmarks surrounding it — most notably, the September 11th terrorist attacks. Gen Zers were four years of age or younger during this pivotal moment in American history — shaping their worldviews in a different mold than older generational cohorts. Gen Z is also said to be the most multicultural generation yet, making diversity, inclusion and the power of creativity more important to them than even millennials.
Born only a decade before the first iPhone was released, Gen Zers have a level of comfort with technology that older generations don’t. This is because they essentially skipped major adoptions periods (the cell phone, the laptop, the expansion of WiFi) and stepped right into the world of mobile. In order to effectively market to this generation, marketers need to understand what motivates them.
Generation Z has the smallest attention span yet. They’ve grown up surrounded by digital screens and the world at their fingertips. They used Wikipedia instead of an encyclopedia and Google instead of a dictionary. They can communicate in only Emojis. They know how to access the information they want, and they know how to access it quickly. To play into this lifestyle, bite-sized, snackable content is key.
The ability to personalize content and specialize offerings is being rapidly adopted by advertisers everywhere. One way to stand out in such a fast-paced, sociable age group is to single them out. Data is pivotal in humanizing and catering digital experiences to them. It may be more time consuming but will make waves in influencing this generation.
Speaking of humanizing, Gen Z is more aware of brand voice than other generations. Growing up in the era of Twitter and sub-tweeting, they can pinpoint a brand’s unique personality quickly. Highlight your company’s values and show the good your brand brings to the table because Gen Z has a particular, fiery interest in doing good for the world, especially as it relates to promoting diversity and equality. They’re not interested in massive, faceless companies, but prefer leaning more towards craft, boutique style brands and products. Attract them with a distinct and well-defined brand personality.
Zers watch more video content than any other generation. Numerous studies have shown that YouTube is their social media platform of choice, surpassing Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat (a close second). A study by NOLA Media found that teens watch an hour of video content online every day — and that’s not counting Netflix, Hulu or Amazon streaming. Another study showed that Gen Zers watches an average of 68 (you read that right) online videos daily. This massive number encompasses everything from YouTube videos to Instagram stories — proof that video storytelling is paramount to Gen Z media consumption.
Generation Z doesn’t want to see a mainstream celebrity endorsing their favorite brand — they want to see their favorite influencer backing it up. This generation craves real, relatable content — making them the ultimate target audience for influencer marketing. Social influencers have a more authentic and realistic worldview than celebrities — an attribute that is crucial to capturing the attention of Gen Zers. These young consumers move so quickly that products go out as fast as they come in — tapping influencers to promote your products can help you catch Zers in the moment before it’s too late. (Check out some more PMG insider tips and tricks on influencer marketing here.)
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In short, give Generation Z a reason to listen to your brand. Engage them and meet them where they are in the digital space. Though they may challenge marketers more than previous generations, the gains and opportunities that come with their loyalty will be like nothing we’ve seen before.
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