A Guide to Marketing to Generation Z
No matter which generation you were born into (or identify with) you have to admit that people are changing. Fashion, culture, values, and lifestyles shift with every single new generation.
As business owners, we don’t have the luxury to simply keep doing what used to work. We must adapt with the times and find new ways to engage.
This is especially important as we see the emergence of the newest generation, labeled Generation Z.
Generation Z (sometimes called Gen-Z or iGen) are the most connected, educated and sophisticated generation yet.
Born after 1995, in terms of numbers they now encompass over 2 billion people globally. They are expected to account for about 40 percent of all consumers by 2020. On average they will live longer, stay in education later and work across more careers than any prior generation.
With their lifelong access to technology, they are able to influence beyond their years. They are the early adopters, social media drivers, and pop-culture leaders.
In this wireless world, their technology knows no boundaries. They communicate and connect through snaps, insta posts, vlogs, twitch streams and whichever new platform gives them a creative outlet.
The Generation Z Personality
Research already points to some fundamental differences between Generation Z and Millennials. Influenced by their awareness of political unrest, terrorism, and financial turmoil, Generation Z are more interested in participating in social activism and working for a legacy.
Other key personality preferences of Gen-Z are:
- More cautious, less risk-taking
- Accepting of different cultures, sexual orientations, races, lifestyle choices
- Want to think for themselves and do not believe in authority figures
- Less time spent in shopping malls, they will buy and connect online
- Less likely to go out to see a movie, they seek virtual entertainment
- More likely to use Instagram or Snapchat than Facebook
How to engage and influence a new generation
When it comes to digital marketing and influencing Generation Z these factors matter. The values and focus in their lives is different from any preceding generation. For this reason, so too must the marketing that is done to reach them.
Design matters: automation and self-service are trends rising to meet this generation of technology-driven, self-educating consumers. But if automation is used, it must be done correctly. Companies must ensure their technology and website design is superior and meets expectations, or news will quickly spread that it’s not a quality purchasing option.
Play to shorter attention spans: using bullet points, short videos, podcasts will make your Generation Z prospects more likely to view and share your content.
Have an open agenda: the Generation Z ethos is to be open and honest. The word authenticity is thrown around a lot these days because it is important. This is why it’s a good idea to communicate your mission and value proposition clearly and quickly, or you run the risk of losing your audience.
Involving the end user: if Generation Z consumers can help produce or create the message, they’ll be more responsive to it. Products like Snapchat Geofilters are a great example of how to capitalize on users to promote your product.
Show real people doing real things: Generation Z are looking for people they can relate to, who reflect their own lives. Trying to use too much stock footage, or glossy photoshopped models won’t have as much clout as showing the real people who use your products and work for your company. Take a look at the way Apple’s highlights their team members for a great example of real people in digital marketing.
Give Them Access: if you put too many gates in front of them, Generation Z consumers won’t even bother complaining. They’ll move on and find the next great resource. For this reason, consider whether you want (or need) to make them sign-up for (or pay for) resources that could be valuable to them. If you have an app maybe it makes more sense to give them access up front and grow some brand trust before pitching a paid version.
Value their attention: as the first generation that has never known life without easy Internet access, Generation Z recognize the value of their attention. They won’t waste it. They don’t sit through ads; they don’t click on banner ads. They won’t give obviously sponsored content the time of day. What they’re looking for is the immediate value.
In short, whatever you do with your digital marketing, you must aim to be valuable and engaging. Your content needs to be useful and entertaining. It can’t be an obvious hard sell.
It can be hard at first, but you must find ways to share your message in the spaces that Generation Z are inhabiting. With some time, you can learn to speak the same language that they do.
Just as Generation Z has adopted new technologies into their lives, we too must adapt and evolve our approach to digital marketing so that we can engage them.