Pay attention: there’s a new group of consumers in town and they’re called Gen Z. Fast-paced and digitally savvy, Gen Z consumers have the power to elevate your brand as quickly as they can tear it down. Here’s a 101 on who the Gen Z consumer is and how to get them on your side.
Who is Generation Z?
Step aside Millennials, make way for Generation Z: people born in 1995 and later. This cohort of 20-somethings is coming of age and starting to make its presence known by entering the workforce. Gen Z, also known as the post-millennial generation, is quickly breaking into the market share, making marketers rethink their strategies to adapt to this fast-paced bunch.
According to Barkley Generation Z’s insights center, this pivotal generation is forecasted to make up 40% of consumers by 2020, with an estimated US$143 billion in direct buying power1. To harness the potential of marketing to Gen Z, it is important to understand the attitude, behaviour and beliefs of this group of audience. Here are some insights into Gen Z.
“There is one caveat: the one-off, #adstyle partnerships are out.”
– Nicolas Miachon of Upfluence Inc.
Keep it short and sweet
Gen Z consumers are constantly on mobile, rapidly switching between apps and social media platforms. As much as this shows that they are great multi-taskers, it also points to their short attention span. Creating interesting bite-sized content that is clear and direct is the best way to capturing their attention and effectively reach out to them.
This poses a challenge to marketers who might be tempted to throw their product in the faces of the Gen Z consumers due to the time limitation. This might lead to a negative reaction from Gen Z, or worse encourage brand repulsion from the perceived hard sell tactics.
Instead of advertising products to them, brands could adopt a more conversational approach to create genuine interest in the brand. In an article by Entrepreneur, in order to market to Generation Z, brands could either tell a story or provide a solution to their problems. This can also be done through collaborations with influencers whom Gen Z care about.
Whatever it is, keep the story short and sweet. Your messaging should be succinct and if it makes them laugh or cry in six seconds, that’s half the battle won.
With Gen Z, it’s best to keep things real. These consumers grew up with technology, high-speed internet and instant connectivity, and because they are constantly inundated with information, they know that not all of this information is real.
In their quest for honesty and authenticity, Gen Zs are known to cross-check the info they receive and this is especially evident in their shopping habits, which shows they tend to research a product online or watch YouTube review videos before making a purchase. A statistic by AdWeek shows a whopping 50% of Generation Z cannot live without YouTube and often rely on it to catch up on news, source for entertainment as well as look for shopping recommendations. So if you intend to oversell your product – well, don’t, because the Gen Zs will find a way to the truth.
In an article with Forbes, Nicolas Miachon of Upfluence Inc. wrote, “There is one caveat: the one-off, #adstyle partnerships are out. Don’t risk a shallow narrative; cultivate genuine, long-term relationships with content creators to ensure the type of storytelling campaign that Gen Zers love.” When working with influencers, micro-influencers are just as likely to win over Generation Z consumers as high-profile ones can, as long as they represent the core values that Generation Z can relate to.
Being true digital natives, Generation Z consumers are desensitised to advertisements (#ad) and have had mental ad-blockers pre-installed since the age of five. Kantar Millward Brown’s AdReaction2 surveyed almost 24,000 people within the ages 16 to 49 across 39 countries, and found that 52% of Generation Z have even gone the extra mile to avoid pop-up ads. They have taken the effort to either change their settings or install an ad-blocker plug-in/app.
To overcome these challenges, supporting digital campaigns with out-of-home media placements is an effective way to engage with Gen Z consumers, bolster your digital efforts and reassure any concerns of false advertising online. Generation Z value both a physical and digital experience, so marketers and brands should build campaigns that are phygital – the best of both worlds. Think putting out a call on social media for fans of a brand to loan their collectors’ items which will be displayed in a week-long pop-up so people feel like they have a stake in your activation. No longer are you advertising at them, you are including them in your campaigns.
Marketing to Generation Z can be a challenge, but brands that rise to the occasion will find themselves making a lasting impression. To begin, keep the conversation going, keep it punchy and keep it real.
- Barkley, Inc. “The Power of Gen Z Influencer.” January 2018. https://www.barkleyus.com/futurecast/genz/. 12 February 2019.
- Kantar Millward Brown. “AdReaction: Generation X,Y and Z.” 2017. http://www.millwardbrown.com/adreaction/genxyz/. 12 February 2019.