When it comes to communications and marketing, understanding each of your different audiences is key in crafting the right messages on the right channels, and it’s especially important if young people comprise a substantial portion of the audience you market to. Gen Z simply don’t respond to offers and marketing campaigns the same way that millennials do.
Gen Z are quickly becoming the most important influencers and are certainly the ones to watch this year.
What is Generation Z (Gen Z)?
Gen Z, is the generation after millennials – i.e. those born between 1996 and 2009 – 21/22-year olds.
I have been quite interested in Gen Z for a while, and just by observing actions, habits, patterns of younger people around me – be it family members, friends of friends, friends’ siblings – I have picked up a lot along the way.
So, what are some of the differences between Millennials and Generation Z?
Gen Z are very different to their predecessors as they have grown up through rapid changes in technology, society, communications and gender. They are part of the digitally disrupted world and are natives in social media – a bank of emojis comes more naturally to them than the dictionary does.
What I love most about this generation though is their multifaceted approach to social media. Gen Z uses different platforms for different activities. On Instagram, they show their aspiring selves; on Snapchat, they share real-life moments; on Twitter, they monitor news; and on Facebook, they gather information.
General profile of a Gen Z individual:
• Grew up during the recession, meaning they are therefore more uncertain about their future and understand the importance of saving money
• Are open-minded, with gender and sexuality bearing little or no impact on the people they hang around with
• Can multitask across various technology platforms and social media
• Have an eight second attention span in comparison to millennials (12 seconds)
• Value communication and an attempt to understand their wants and needs
• Are empowered by the click of a button. They know how to self-educate and find relevant information for themselves
• Are socially conscious and due to the concern they have developed about humanity’s impact on the planet, they want to save the world, whether participating in
political, social or environmental activism. Social media gives them a platform to do this – and shout about it.
• Are more concerned with quality and service rather than brand loyalty
Looking at this snapshot, it’s clear that brands are not quite grasping these differences. Many still assume that as they were important to, or loved by Millennials, that they’ll have no problems with Generation Z. They are wrong.
A quick guide on how to market to Gen Z:
• Figure out and own your real purpose – what do you stand for and why? As true digital natives, with access to more information, they are more adept at spotting marketing gimmicks. Gen Z wholeheartedly believe that brands must take a real stand on human rights issues
• Focus more on the people you are trying to engage with and not the brand itself
• Build meaningful relationships with the right influencers to catch the attention of Gen Z
• Focus more on how your product or service affects real people – they want to be able to relate to what it is you are selling
• Quality over quantity: after all, the customer experience is all they really care about. With technology at their fingertips, they are in more of a position to research products and services before they buy
• Content over adverts – they know the difference and prefer something that is more authentic
• Video, video, video: it’s all about YouTube and Vines
Even if you don’t think you need to target Gen Z now, it’s worth building relationships with them. Take the time to understand and learn how they differ from other generations. They’re growing up in a world where everyone and everything is connected. This shapes behaviours and beliefs and sets high expectations for organisations looking to engage with them.
Being agile and open to exploring new avenues will only help you communicate with the most nimble generation yet… and enjoy it!