Millennials turning old school

When we hear the word “millennial,” plenty of images come to mind.

There’s Mark Zuckerberg, running one of the biggest companies in the world, in his hoodie, with his first billion dollars in his pocket by age 23.

There’s Miley Cyrus, always in front of the cameras in her birthday suit in an act resembling a late-night Snapchat sexting sesh—no judgement.

Then there’s me, the youngest employee sitting around a conference table at the startup I work for, concepting ideas on how to produce a medium that emotionally stimulates me and my peers: video.

Apparently, we’re brash, we’re narcissistic, we’re entitled. Or so the cliche goes.

As a marketer, I’ve spent my time trying to find ways to connect with my Millennial peers, a challenge senior marketers have slaved over for years.

There has been so much focus on Millennials in the marketing world that it seems like no other generations are worth our marketing efforts. Until now.

Gen-Z is in

The generation born after Millennials is emerging as the next big thing for market researchers, cultural observers, and trend forecasters. With the oldest members of the group barely out of high school, these Gen-Z tweens and teens are primed to become the dominant youth influencers of tomorrow. Along with billions in spending power, they promise untold riches to the marketer who can find the secret to their psyche.

Generation Z kids, also called Plurals, have a different mindset than any other generation before them. Millennials were raised during a booming economy and relative peace of the ‘90s, only to experience the devastation of the September 11th attacks and two economic crashes. Because their first gadget was the ancient iPod that resembled a rotary dial—we all remember that one—Millennials received all of their information directly from their TV set.

Plurals, by contrast, has had its eyes bright and tails bushy from the beginning, entering the world as the war on terror and economic depression were dwindling. There was no news reported that they could not access on their first gadget, the iPhone. No need for TV.

Gen-Z habits

Nielsen says that traditional TV consumption among the Plurals is falling fast. At Digital Entertainment World in Los Angeles, Margaret Czeisler, Chief Strategy Officer for Wildnessat AwsomenessTV, provided data on how fast Plurals are moving away from television.

  • 50% of Plurals have never had cable.
  • 70% preferred to stream video over watching cable or commercial supported TV.
  • 90% watch YouTube videos.

Another defining difference between Plurals and other generations is that many of them don’t see themselves as consumers, but content creators. 80% of those asked say that expressing themselves creatively is important to them, and many share their creative efforts with others. A quarter said they post original videos at least once a week, while just about a quarter of adults say they have ever posted a video online.

Gen-Z and social media

65% of Plurals asked enjoy creating and sharing content on social media. Plurals have a distinct relationship with social media. Many post on Snapchat multiple times a day but only use Facebook once a week. Because all of their parents are now on Facebook, it is considered an “old” media to Plurals.

Ben Rosen of BuzzFeed Creative looked into the Snapchat habits of his Gen-Z little sister, Brooke. What he found astounded him.

When his test subject wakes up, she has about 40 snaps from friends and responds to each one with a photo or video like rapid-fire.

She says, “Parents don’t understand. It’s about being there in the moment… One of the biggest fights kids have with their parents is about data usage.. This one girl I know uses 60 gigabytes every month.”

60 gigs?! My first thought is, Haven’t these kids ever heard of connecting to Wifi to save their data? But in reality, of course they have, but these Plurals are always on the go—even more so than their busy parents. In order to keep up with this social media boom and their friends, they must be available at all times, even when Wifi isn’t.

To compliment their addiction to social media, Plurals dislike direct advertising, according to Czeisler. But as the great marketers know, that does not mean they are unreachable to brands.

  • 8% find branded or sponsored media content appealing.
  • Two-thirds prefer to watch a branded YouTube video over a YouTube ad.
  • Nearly a third go as far as following their favorite brands on social media and viewing the branded posts.

As traditional TV companies struggle to understand how to capture the interest of millennials, they will undoubtedly have to work even harder to reach Generation Z.

Why this matters

The media habits of preteens and teens differ sharply from any generation before them. The demise of linear TV is happening at a breakneck speed. If left with only one device, 0/10 Plurals would keep their television, which shows that TV is very low on their priority level for daily entertainment. Along with their little interest in traditional television, they also don’t bother with traditional advertisements.

Instead, Plurals prefer video streaming, social media, and branded video.

Well, there’s your answer, marketers. Don’t waste your time trying to figure out how to reach your newest customers. It’s right here. Instead, utilize your time by creating content that they want to see and experience. The cohort of Generation Z wants funny. They want beautiful. They want high-quality. They want different. Give them something to share with their friends on social media. Give them funny, quirky, mindful video.

Are you in the market to advertise to Gen-Z kids? How has online video worked for you in the past? What other strategies do you use to catch their scattered attention? Comment below to share!

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