Generation Z: Marketing to the future
Mandar Natekar February 15, 2020
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Much before the term “influencer” was coined, young people played that social role by creating and interpreting trends. Now a new generation of influencers has emerged on the block. Members of Gen Z are true digital natives: from their formative years, they have been exposed to the internet, to social networks, and mobile systems. That context has produced a hyper cognitive generation very comfortable with collecting and cross-referencing many sources of information and with integrating virtual and offline experiences.
As global connectivity reached new highs, generational shifts could come to the forefront in a stronger role in setting behaviour than socioeconomic differences do. Young people become a powerful influence on people of all ages and incomes, as well as on the way those people consume and connect with brands. So it is also interesting to understand how this new generation’s views might affect the broader population, as well as the overall consumption in general.
Fundamentally, this new generation has emerged in an ecosystem that is changing the entire business landscape. This is a generation that is equipped and looking forward to being greater than Millennials and to every other generation combined.
Several studies reveal four core Gen Z behaviours, all affixed in one element: this generation’s search for truth. Gen Zers value individual expression and elude labels. They rally themselves for a variety of causes. They believe deeply in the effectiveness of dialogue to solve conflicts and mend the biosphere. Finally, they make decisions and relate to institutions in an exceedingly systematic and logical way.
In contrast, the previous generation—the millennials, budded in an era of economic prosperity and focused on the self. Its members are more visionary, more confrontational, with lesser room for change in points of view. Such behaviours influence the way Gen Z views consumption and their relationships with brands.
Companies should be in concurrence with three implications for this generation: consumption as access instead of control, consumption as an expression of individual identity, and consumption as a matter of ethical concern. Coupled with technological improvements this generational shift is transforming the consumer landscape in a way that cuts across all socioeconomic brackets and extends beyond Gen Z, infiltrating the whole demographic pyramid. The opportunities now surfacing for organizations are equally transformational and challenging. Businesses must rethink how they deliver value to the consumer and practice what they preach when they address marketing issues and work ethics.
In essence, the following checklist is a good starting point if you want to earn the trust of Gen Z consumers:
- Earn their attention
- Tell the truth
- Work with influencers
- Practice what you preach
- Focus on brand values
The youth, they’re homogeneous worldwide in terms of buying power. Born after the mid-1990s, the oldest members of Generation Z are now entering the workforce and expected to take over about 40% of all consumer shopping by 2020.
So how can brands engage with a whole new wave, a new cohort of customers?
1) Optimize Social Media Activity
Gen Z comprises of individuals who are empowered and active social media users. The generation communicates, networks, and connects with brands online easily. As per reports, 53% of people are influenced by comments made on social media.
Given their outreach in the social space, Gen Z has become an influential and indispensable customer group for brands. It drives marketers to shift content creation to cater to a more interactive demographic. While they still interact with content that millennials like — e.g. articles, visuals and videos — Gen Z wants more from brands, specifically on social media.
Changes in interaction may mean relying majorly on polls, and quizzes or personalized responses to comments and chats. Additionally, Gen Z likes user-generated content which means the demographics wouldn’t make a purchase decision without conversation points and reviews guiding their decisions.
Without lots of reference points, reviews, photos and videos, a brand may be easily dismissed or overlooked by more favoured counterparts.
2) Be Authentic
The rise of social media influencers on Instagram is not by chance. Instagram famous accounts are goldmines for brands. Fashion models, world travellers and gym freaks, with seemingly normal lives, are becoming the face of the platform and consumerism. Brands are leveraging these Instagram accounts for the users’ vast network of followers as well as their authenticity.
3) Keep it Concise
At one point, many marketers felt perplexed when they realized that the millennial attention span averaged 12 seconds. Well, the attention span of Gen Z consumers is currently measured at only 8 seconds.
This means it’s even more important to get to the point with your marketing message in engaging with this group. One way of keeping this generation interested is to take advantage of visuals instead of plain text, especially long-form version.
Additionally, new phrases and acronyms will help marketers reach brevity. To drive engagement, its crucial to be up to speed with how Gen Z communicate and the references that will engage them.
4) Understand Who Your Brand is Talking To
Gen Z is also mostly liberal compared to generations of the past. They are the most ethnically diverse generation in history. By the time Gen Z is at its peak, they will be comprised of 47% ethnic minorities.
Additionally, they are known to break away from traditional forms. To brand this modern generation, brands are moving away from the so-called culture of ‘exclusion’ to coincide with the new face of consumerism. Brands are now working to be more inclusive, engaging and open.
As Gen Z steadily enters the workforce, companies want to find ways to turn the heads of the top talent in this group. If brands make the effort now to prepare for Gen Z as they steadily arrive in the workforce, and become a massive chunk of the consumer population. They’ll find it to be easier when they — probably sooner than later — become the dominant generational force in the contemporary workplace.