For years, marketers have been obsessed with figuring out how to market to millennials. But, the reality is that there’s a new generation emerging, and it’s time to focus on understanding them: Generation Z.
Born between the mid-1990s and early 2000s, Generation Z - also known as “Post-Millennials,” the “iGeneration,” and the “Homeland Generation” - makes up one-fourth of the US population. If you consider their influence on parent and home purchases, their spending power is close to $200 billion, and they will account for 40 percent of customers by the year 2020. If businesses want to be successful, it’s time to focus on this generation.
Not sure where to start? Check out these tips for how to market to Generation Z.
1. Focus on Mobile
It goes without saying that Generation Z is technologically savvy. Unlike millennials (a.k.a. the “internet pioneers”), who became the first users of platforms like Facebook and transitioned to the smartphone experience, Generation Z does not remember life without the internet.
They are accustomed to researching online and finding the answer to any question within seconds, and using video tutorials to learn outside of the traditional classroom setting. Most Gen Z’ers use multiple devices - smartphones, tablets, wearables - and use many different apps across numerous platforms for various purposes. For them, social media is an integral part of daily life.
Because mobile devices are Generation Z’s go-to, that should be your priority.
- Talk to them. Texting is now more popular than email, voicemail, and other forms of written communication, so utilize instantaneous conversation - whether it’s text, live chat, or other targeted messaging - to communicate with Gen Z.
- Focus on social media. According to market research, 85 percent of Gen Z’ers use social media to learn about new products - but be aware that they use different platforms for different purposes. For example, Instagram has become the most popular platform for brand discovery. This is where Gen Z’ers share and look for content related to what they aspire to be. When it comes to getting shopping recommendations, they tend to look to YouTube instead.
2. Gain their Trust
Shaped by the reality of growing up during multiple recessions, Gen Z’ers are prudent spenders. They are career-driven, independent, and well-aware that there are winners and losers in life.
In a survey of 400 Gen Z’ers conducted by Lincoln Financial Group, 60 percent of respondents already had a savings account, and 71 percent said that were focused on saving for the future. The top three priorities among participants were getting a job, finishing college, and saving money for the years to come. They ranked these goals higher than spending time with friends and family, exercising, or traveling.
How should you cater to their careful spending? Gain their trust.
- Be relatable and authentic. Generation Z doesn’t want to be labeled as such. Approach them as individuals instead of a whole, and they will view your brand as worthy of their trust.If you try to play up content that you think relates to them (i.e. using too many emojis or ‘LOLs’), you risk being seen as trying too hard.
- Leverage user-generated content. Generation Z is the Amazon generation. They trust what others have to say, and the more user-generated reviews, photos, and testimonials your brand has, the more trustworthy you will seem.
- Sell the success that your product will give them, not the product itself. Generation Z is very results-driven, and they care more about what your product can do for them, as opposed to the features themselves.
- Use social media influencers. Gen Z’ers tend to trust individuals rather than companies, and if they see someone they admire using a product, they are more likely to try it.
3. Be Concise
Generation Z is accustomed to being constantly bombarded with information and learning to filter out what is important. They have grown up with the ability to research and find answers online quickly and concretely, and as a result, their attention span is very short (between 6-8 seconds).
How should you address this as a marketer? Deliver your message quickly and clearly.
- Make sure to communicate via “snackable content” that can be digested in a few seconds or less. Generation Z is used to scrolling quickly through Instagram, seeing tweets composed of 280 characters or less, and immediately closing ads that aren’t interesting or relevant. If you don’t capture their attention immediately, they’re going to move right onto the next thing.
- Try using visuals such as videos to peak their interest. As members of the YouTube, Netflix, and Reddit generation, Gen Z is accustomed to watching short videos on their smartphones. You can also use GIFs and emojis to make your content pop.
4. Highlight your Company’s Values
Generation Z is the most culturally and socially diverse generation in history. They grew up with the first African-American president, the legalization of gay marriage, and social movements like “Occupy Wall Street.” As a result, they want to do good and make a difference, and they value businesses that feel the same way.
How can you tailor your business to their values? Be a socially conscious brand.
- Consider developing philanthropic connections and supporting worthy causes. Look to companies like Boxed Water, initiators of the #ReTree movement, which aims to plant one million trees within the next five years. They even pledge to plant two trees if you subscribe to their email list. TOMS is another great example, providing new shoes and clean water to people in need when you purchase from them or one of their partners.
- Make sure to be authentic, because Generation Z will revolt against campaigns that don’t measure up to their values. Just look at Pepsi’s controversial advertisement featuring Kendall Jenner, which was ultimately pulled due to social media backlash accusing the ad of trivializing the Black Lives Matter movement.
By following these steps, you can build a business that Generation Z knows and loves.