Millennials, move aside. Gen Z’ers are coming in HOT. You can call them Generation Z, Plurals, or iGen, and their power is undeniable. Those born from the mid-‘90s through 2010 or so (no one can agree on this stuff) are incredibly competent, self-aware, and in tune with what’s going on in the world. And while some of them are in college and still connected to their families financially, they still have an incredible push/pull influence on family spending and have about $50 billion in spending power themselves.
If you haven’t started thinking about Gen Z as your next big prospect, you should, since the Gen Z population is expected to account for about 40% of all consumers by 2020. So, let’s start talking to them now.
1. Know your persona
Gen Z is compiled of go-getters and activists. They’re pragmatic about what’s attainable, yet entrepreneurial with big dreams. This confident spirit and laser-focused mindset push 75% of teens to want to turn their hobbies into full-time jobs and 72% want to start their own business one day.
2. Utilize influencer marketing
Celebrity endorsements have worked for many in the past, but that marketing technique doesn’t seem to be as effective with this younger group. Gen-Z’ers are looking for authenticity and content from real people who reflect their own lives. Gen Z’ers are more inclined to relate to their favorite YouTube stars and Instagram influencers and 63% of surveyed Gen Z’ers say they prefer to see real people in advertisements over celebrities.
3. Be opinionated on social and environmental issues
While Millennials worry about their growing social status and “likes” on social media, Generation Z worries about the economy and world ecology as well as racial, gender and income equality. Gen Z is a vocal bunch who stand up for what they believe in and expect you to as well. By authentically standing up for these values and showing how your brand participates, you get points for more clout.
4. Focus on mobile marketing first
Gen Z’ers usually use many devices and platforms, from Facebook on their smartphone to YouTube on their laptop. 70% of Gen Z’ers watch 2 hours of YouTube per day and watch 2x as many videos on mobile compared to any other demographic, so everything from your website to your ad campaigns should be mobile friendly and responsive.
5. Be edgy and visual
Snackable video needs to grab the interest of your young customers immediately before you lose their interest. 50% of Gen Z’ers “can’t live without YouTube.” USE THAT TO YOUR ADVANTAGE! Invest in good producers, editors, designers, and other creatives who focus on capturing your audience’s attention immediately.
6. Assume you have limited time and then go for it
Gen Z has an “8-second filter” for digital content. Your content must immediately peak their interest for them to stop scrolling and engage. But don’t think Gen Z’ers have short attention spans. They grew up knowing any answer they wanted was only a click or voice command away, so they’re innately self-reliant. They can spend hours or days researching a subject, so they still appreciate thorough content as long as it’s presented in a digestible way. Show don’t tell. Think visuals and video, don’t rely on chunky text. Think about pre-roll ads on YouTube or even Facebook, where you can attain relatively high impact and be strategic about reach and frequency.
7. Promote an uplifting, positive message
Think about how your product can make the world a better place. Gen Z’ers believe in the greater good and have high hopes that there’s plenty of room for a whole community to thrive together if they work together. Your content should be thoughtful, intelligent, and inclusive.
When Gen Z’ers buy a product, they don’t see it as a purchase; they see it as a brand affiliation. When a Gen Z’er becomes your customer, it means they see their own values in your message.
8. Avoid traditional ads
Gen Z’ers have no patience for ads. They’re even prone to skipping over legitimate content if it’s housed in areas they recognize as channels for advertising content. The value you’re offering is determined by your customer, not by the marketer. Don’t ask anyone for a buy, just engage by helping, empowering and collaborating with them.
9. Work hard for their purchase
While Millennials tend to spend money boldly and with few boundaries, 57% of Generation Z prefer saving money to spending it. They grew up in a time of recession and constantly hear about everything from global terrorism to local violence. Volatility and complexity affect their outlook on how to spend their money and how to change the world. That means you have to work that much harder to be their global and financial ally.
10. Understand their expectations and play to their patience levels
Gen Z wants to co-create and have a discussion, not be talked to. They expect the highest quality content on all mediums. According to an IBM survey, 60% will abandon a website or app that loads too slowly. They expect to find what they seek easily and will move on quickly if they don’t. Be sure to have engaging and visually appealing content and products.
Gen Z’ers certainly aren’t all the same, but for now, we should engage them in ways that work for all of them: Engage them early, hope they’re loyal, and then provide them with ongoing content that helps amplify our messaging as they mature through the marketing funnel and become more independent adults.
So for now, know your audience inside and out and think about how they approach every situation during their day. Recognize their influence and think about smart ways to break up your Gen Z market into smaller segments. You wouldn’t have the same conversation with an 8th grader in Philadelphia as you would with a college student at UC Berkeley. So think first, be smart, and create content they’ll find invaluable.