From The Blog

Marketing to Generation Z12 min read

May 24, 2017

Generation Z, also known as iGen, is the youngest consumer group – those born in 1996 or later. Gen Z will account for 40% of all consumers by 2020, so it’s important to create lasting relationships with this generation now by understanding what motivates them.

Most members of Gen Z have never known what it’s like to live without the internet. Instant access to information and communication is a constant in their lives. Researchers have suggested that members of iGen have shorter attention spans than goldfish, and while this may be technically correct, the reason for this short attention span is that Gen Z has developed a fast-paced, decisive filter for interacting with the world, especially on the internet. Members of Gen Z take just eight seconds to decide if something is worth their attention. They are pragmatic, savvy, and selective in their engagement. That means businesses have to learn how to catch the attention of Gen Z consumers and hold that attention to build loyalty.

“Snackable” content can pique Gen Z’s interest in that eight-second window you have to capture their attention or risk being scrolled over. Use GIFs and images to tap into trending ideas and Gen Z’s preference for visuals. If you can catch their attention and demonstrate the value of engaging with your brand, Gen Z will investigate further.

One of the ways to build authentic engagement with Gen Z is through social media, where you can initiate two-way conversations that get Gen Zers engaged with your brand. Members of Gen Z have a nuanced relationship with social media and privacy concerns. iGen is actually more concerned with online security than previous generations; they are more concerned than Millennials about protecting their identity when using cards to make purchases and when communicating through messages online. On the flip side, Gen Z is the least concerned of all generations about sharing information on social media and paying through mobile apps. Because the lives of members of iGen are tired to their smartphones and the social media outlets they use on those phones, engaging with them through these platforms is imperative. The quality of these interactions is very important, since a study by the Center for Generational Kinetics found that 40% of Gen Z consumers say social media directly affects their happiness. Creating content that will uplift and entertain iGen users and finding opportunities to create two-way, authentic conversations are important for catching and keeping their attention.

Authenticity goes a long way toward building positive relationships with members of Gen Z. Just be real. Trying too hard to look “trendy” will make your efforts look fake and untrustworthy. The young adults of Gen Z appreciate authentic engagement that shows a human is on the other side of the screen, especially if that human respects that members of Gen Z think and act like adults and want to be treated as such. Don’t rely on old marketing tactics or jargon. Pay attention to trends that are going viral and connect with Gen Z through the ideas they care about in creative, engaging, authentic ways.

Aligned with authenticity is the need for putting a face on your brand. Gen Z prefers to see real people connected to a product or brand, not just celebrity endorsements or actor portrayals. Influencer marketing is particularly effective with this generation because they trust that bloggers and vloggers will give them honest information about the products they’re considering. Getting reviews from popular YouTubers or social media personalities will both humanize your brand, making it more relatable and approachable, and build Gen Zers’ trust in your brand by showing them peers whose opinions they trust are satisfied with your product or service.

iGen also has an expectation for personalized content. They can cut through the clutter online to find the precise information, service, or product they’re looking for. They expect to be treated as individuals, not as numbers. Personalized products and individual service are imperative for building a relationship with consumers of Generation Z.

Demonstrating the impact of your product or brand will make a difference to members of Gen Z. Generation Z has lived through terrorist attacks, wars, and a serious recession, and their outlook has been shaped by these experiences that tell them the world needs to change. They are concerned about the future and want their habits as consumers to reflect the future they want to see. Connect your brand with causes that matter to this idealistic generation, and show how support for your business will help make the world a better place. Honesty and transparency are also important here. Be honest about your product or service and transparent about your business practices so that Gen Z consumers know they can trust you and feel good about supporting you.

Generation Z may be the youngest consumer group, but it would be a mistake to underestimate their sophistication in choosing what content is worth their attention. Gen Z also influences family consumer habits, affecting over 70% of family food choices and over $600 billion of family spending, so understanding Gen Z can also open the door to customers of other generations. To stay competitive in this rapidly changing market that is so profoundly shaped by the internet, throw out traditional advertising and marketing tactics and focus on building authentic relationships with potential consumers. Invest in what they care about, and they will become invested in your brand.