The Rise Of Generation Z
Just when we marketers have finally figured out what Millennials want, here comes the information hungry and technologically proficient Generation Z. In fact by 2020 it’s estimated that the teenagers of today will be the largest group of consumers worldwide – in Europe alone they’ll represent 40% of the market.
‘Generation Z’ is broadly defined as anyone born from the mid-90s onwards and as the audience that will shape the immediate future of consumer behaviour it’s essential we understand who they are, and how they live their lives. Only then can we understand how to market to these complex but critical consumers.
THEY ARE VISUAL COMMUNICATORS
“Blink, share, laugh, forget”, a phrase coined at The Future Laboratory, summarises Gen Z perfectly. Unlike many generations before them, Gen Z prefers to communicate using images rather than lots of text. The growing popularity of short form messaging applications like Snapchat and visual platforms like Instagram confirm this. It’s also common knowledge that Gen Z have even shorter attention spans (8 seconds on average) which means they are able to process information at a quicker pace than older generations, deciphering what’s relevant and of interest and ignoring everything else
For brands, this means creating quick, to the point, visual content that’s in their language. Marketing material, from websites to leaflets, should make use of images and colour, without an overreliance on lengthy copy.
THEY DON’T WANT TO BE SOLD TO
There is a growing call from this particular consumer group for truly authentic content. No longer is it acceptable to use digitally altered models to enhance beauty claims or use A list celebrities to promote products. This is fake news and it turns this generation off, not on. They don’t want to feel marketed to—they want to feel like they’re part of something.
This means that to connect with Gen Z, brands need to make their marketing campaigns as relatable as possible. Don’t use overly branded copy that’s littered with enthusiastic descriptors. Use down to earth language with a realistic focus. Use models that haven’t been photo shopped to look a Stepford housewife, or better still, use images of real customers paired with real recommendations. On the other hand, don’t be too trendy. By trying to use acronyms like WTF and OMG, you’re likely to come off desperate and unauthentic.
THEY HAVE BEEN BROUGHT UP WITH TECHNOLOGY
The primary difference between Gen Z and the generations before them is their aptitude for using technology. Born with a mobile in their hand, 84% of Gen Z use an internet-connected device while watching TV, and they spend twice as much time on computers as teens did a decade ago.
This always-on access to information has had a drastic impact on their purchase journeys. They research more than previous generations, hunting down the best prices, comparing competitors and asking their web of influence, from friends to online communities, their thoughts too.
As a result, it’s more important than ever to ensure your marketing campaign is as joined up as possible so their journey is as seamless as possible. Put as much effort into your social media channels as you do with your branding. Update your website to ensure any NPD is included and don’t scrimp when it comes to physical marketing material. Finally, don’t hide important information from them, trust us, they will find it!
In summary, it’s crucial that we understand the differences between Gen Z and the generations that came before them. We need to target them where they are and not where we want them to be; we need to inspire them and start a conversation with them by talking TO them not AT them, in a language that they understand. Get it wrong and brands risk becoming extinct, get it right and they’ll end up with an army of advocates that are more likely than any other generation before them to positively review and recommend products to their family, friends and followers.