Many advertisers and marketers are focused on marketing to Millennials, and rightfully so. They make up over one quarter of the population and over $600 billion of the economy. But Generation Z is right on their heels. By 2020, they are expected to make up nearly one third of the US population, and they are already contributing over $44 billion to the American economy.
So, who is Gen Z?
As with any generation, there are many ways to define these young people. Some say they were born around 1995 of later, while others consider them the generation born after the turn of the century. Either way, they grew up in the age of the Internet, and they are comfortable with all forms of technology. Social media is the number one way to interact with friends for Generation Z, which may also be referred to as the Homeland Generation, iGeneration, Centennials, Founders, or Plurals.
Gen Z vs. Millennials
It may be tempting to lump Generation Z in with Millennials when coming up with a marketing plan, but there are some key differences to keep in mind. For example, while Millennials are thought to have a short attention span, Generation Z’s is even shorter. Think 12 seconds vs. 8 seconds. On the other hand, this, along with their access to technology, actually makes them excellent multitaskers. Other differences include:
- Entrepreneurial Aspirations: Generation Z doesn’t want to work for someone else. They grew up in the age of people starting their own companies and learned from their successes and failures.
- Frugality: They also grew up during the Great Recession and saw their parents and grandparents lose money, homes, and businesses, so they are more likely to compare prices.
- Global Awareness: This generation thinks about how their lives impact the world, not just their little piece of it, thanks to the ability to connect with people everywhere.
- Individuality: Generation Z wants to stand out. They are more willing to try a brand no one has ever heard of if they like what it’s selling. On the flipside, if the brand is not keeping up with the times, your Generation Z consumer is quick to go elsewhere.
- Technology: This generation can’t imagine a world without smartphones and tablets. If your company feels outdated, they’re going to assume it is.
How will Generation Z affect marketing campaigns?
For these reasons, marketing to Millennials and marketing to Generation Z at the same time is going to take a little extra effort over the next few years. Some people call the younger generation “Millennials on Steroids,” and in some cases, that might be accurate. Because, while there are many similarities, more will be required to keep up.
1. Attitudes on influencers. Social media influencers have become a big deal when it comes to marketing to both generations, Generation Z seems to be even more interested in real people instead of celebrities. In other words, they are going to believe the latest Instagram star instead of a Kardashian.
2. Video rules. More and more marketers are relying on video, and that number is expected to increase over the next few years. It could have something to do with the fact that nearly three quarters of Generation Z visit YouTube every day compared to just half of Millennials.
3. Extra effort. Millennials are more likely to watch an ad that pops up on the side of their Facebook feed or before their YouTube videos. Generation Z is more likely to ignore it. A marketing plan that does not feel like an advertisement will be more important than ever, as will mastering advertising across multiple platforms at the same time.
4. Me-centric. Millennials get a bad rap for being self-centered, but Gen Zers are far worse. While that’s not always a bad thing, it can make advertising difficult. You need to prove what your product or service can do for them specifically, not just tell them what it does for everyone.
5. Social responsibility. If you really want to get a Gen Zer’s attention, show them — don’t tell them — how your company/product/service is changing the world. The majority of this generation truly cares about humanity and the planet.
6. Mobile. If you aren’t at least working on your mobile presence, your marketing game is falling behind anyway. Millennials expect it. Generation Z won’t settle for anything less, especially as they get older and become more and more responsible for their own purchases of items like clothing and household goods.
7. Be inclusive. Can’t we all just get along? Seems more like something you’d heard out of the 60s and 70s, but the sentiment has come back around. Gen Z doesn’t like conflict and won’t tolerate hate. Avoid bashing the competition.