Generation Z is a fast-growing demographic, and savvy businesses are getting to know them and how to connect with them, as good marketers have done with generations that precede Gen Z, such as Millennials and Baby Boomers. Who makes up Gen Z, and why are they important? Read on for a thumbnail sketch of the generation that has grown up in an “always on” technological environment.
Who Is Gen Z?
Pew Research defines Generation Z as anyone born from 1997 onward. Bloomberg research indicates that in 2019, Gen Z will comprise about 32 percent of the population, making it the most populous generation — larger even than the Millennial generation, which, for years, has dominated the imagination and attention of advertisers.
Gen Z is different from any other generation because of one simple fact: they are true digital natives. They don’t know life without smart phones. In addition, they are growing up in an economy where ownership isn’t mandatory or even preferable: Older Gen Zers are comfortable renting someone else’s belongings to get from Point A to Point B (think Uber) or spending time in a new city (Airbnb), a pattern that will probably persist once they come of age and have real spending power. And this is a generation invested in meaningful social connection and expression, where “friend” count, or quantity, is less important than the quality and personal nature of one’s connections.
5 Way to Connect with Gen Z
It’s important that your business understand how to communicate with Gen Z. What are the keys to a meaningful connection with a tech-savvy generation that values just that — connection?
1 Lead with Digital
Use online advertising as the cornerstone for all your advertising. Remember, this is the generation that is growing up digital. As Jonah Stillman, the co-author of “Gen Z @ Work” and a 2018 panelist at Advertising Week in New York City, has noted, “[Generation Z] sees no difference between the physical and digital worlds. This is a generation that is native to technology and has complete comfortability with [their] phones.” This is also a multi-screen generation: if Millennials are known to use three screens at once, you can plan on Gen Z using five. Make sure your ads are present across multiple platforms in order to optimize views and clicks.
2 Be Visual
Gen Z is growing up in the age of YouTube and Instagram. For example, online videos are a key brand discovery platform: Marketing Dive reports that 56 percent of the group has indicated “they want video to reflect the products and services they already own or are specifically interested in.” As we have blogged, creating great visual content is no longer a nice to do – it’s a must-do.
3 Look beyond Facebook
In 2018, eMarketer senior forecasting analyst Oscar Orozco told Business Insider that “[o]utside of those who have already left, teens and tweens remaining on Facebook seem to be less engaged—logging in less frequently and spending less time on the platform.” A 2017 Piper Jaffray survey, in which only nine percent of teens designated Facebook as their preferred social-media platform, confirms this trend. As nineteen-year-old Ishan Goel, a marketing strategist with the Mark Cuban Companies, observes, being on Facebook is “not cool.”
So where is Gen Z spending its digital time? According to Ishan Goel, “Because Gen Zers are individualistic and value their privacy, they prefer anonymous social media like Snapchat, Secret, and Whisper rather than Facebook,” An Hodgson, an income and expenditure manager at Euromonitor International, notes that Instagram is also a go-to.
4 Be Authentic
This isn’t necessarily a generation invested in status. Piper Jaffrey reports that “refined-classic” brands like Ralph Lauren or Vineyard Vines are suffering record lows in the Gen Z market, dropping from a 14 percent average to a 5 percent market share among teens. (That said, according to a recent report from consultancy Irregular Labs, 25 percent of the 1,000 13- to 24-year-old females surveyed indicated that they are saving up to buy a luxury product.)
Gen Zers also value ads with everyday people in them, as opposed to celebrities. Look to retailers like Target for a sense of how to get it right when it comes to authenticity: in Target’s online as well as in-store advertising for women’s fashions, for example, models come in all shapes. And in the store itself, even the mannequins showcasing the clothing are different sizes.
5 Tread Carefully with Cause Marketing
Gen Zers value social issues. In a new study from the consulting firm DoSomething Strategic, two-thirds of Gen Z consumers indicate that there is a correlation between a brand’s association with a social cause and positive impressions of that brand. That said, authenticity (see above) must be established: any whiff of a disconnect between the cause marketing and a company’s values, and Gen Z will not be impressed. Furthermore, a study published in the Journal of Advertising Research suggests that businesses should avoid relying on guilt in any cause-related marketing they pursue.
Contact True Interactive
Looking for more insight into how to reach Gen Z with your digital advertising? Contact us.