Gen Z: How To Market To A Generation Of Digital-Natives.

Cancel-culture, a spending power of $140 billion and consumerism defined by a desire for a life centered in meaning . How do you reach the next generation of tech savvy, digital-driven customers?

Generation Z. Born and raised on the internet and set to be the largest generational consumer demographic. Not only are they blessed with the gift of youth, but Business Insider has stated that this generation of digital-natives already has a spending power of $140 billion. Yes you read that right; 140 billion dollars.

In short, if you manage a business and are yet to weave Gen Z into your marketing strategy you need to. And luckily for you, we are here to give you the X Y and Z of marketing to the social media icon loving, 90’s fashion stealing, YouTube obsessed; Generation Z.

Gen Z VS Millennials 

If you find yourself asking, “What is Generation Z?” Here is the skinny. They are categorized as anyone born roughly between 1995-2010.

Gracing the world with my presence in 1993, I represent a generational cross-over and find myself as somewhat of the middle child between these two generations. This gives me a unique perspective in understanding the complex nuances between these two generations and how you need to adapt your marketing strategy to connect with the younger consumer. 

There are a number of behaviors and characteristics Gen Z inherited from Millennials. Both generations have a strong feelings of disillusionment, a desire for purpose and a strong dis-like for the “traditional” marketing techniques that appealed to the generation before them. 

Onto The Internet, Born And Raised

Social media is where they spent most of their days. 

Perhaps it’s an ironic play paraphrasing Will Smith’s famous theme song in a post centred around a generation who are unlikely to have heard it. But the fact still stands, the majority of the Gen Z demographic has been exposed to the internet and social media from exceptionally early on in their lives. 

Never again can young people be told they should be “seen and not heard”. This generation has had a life-long experience of reaching thousands of people at their fingertips. Access to sharing, as well as consuming this information has given Gen Z an understanding and respect for cultures and identities that are not a mirror of their own. 

Gen Z’s Buy From Purpose-Driven Brands. 

As such, they feel an innate responsibility to fight for what they believe in and speak up for “what’s right”. Essentially, Gen Z are a generation radicalising an inclusive narrative. Making Internal and external value at the center of Gen Z consumer decision making process.

They conduct in-depth research on brands before they purchase and ensure they align morally before they do so. What’s more, they are well practiced and freakily efficient in finding the information they need. Which means to attract Gen Z customers, you need a connection driven brand story; and you need it everywhere.

Omnipresence Is Vital For The Gen Z Consumer

This tech-savvy and value driven mindset leads to a thorough due-diligence across all media platforms for Gen Z pre-purchase. It’s interesting to note that despite being so digitally inclined, x% of them prefer to buy in-store after conducting product and brand vetting online. 

This further cements that they are willing to go the extra mile to assess a brands moral alignment, quality of product, ethical responsibility and political belief. It is vital therefore that if your business is targeting Gen Z to not only have a strong brand story, but to ensure your brand story has an inclusive and purposeful opinion that is told consistently and regularly across your online presence. 

How Cancel-Culture Could Affect Your Business

For those of you who grew up with a tape-deck in your car, cancel-culture refers to the mass withdrawal of support from public figures, business or brands in response to actions that are against the beliefs of a large cohort of people. 

Gen Z and “cancel-culture” go hand-in-hand. In the last couple weeks alone, Billie Elish, who was previously dubbed as the voice of Generation Z, found herself cancelled by the very demographic she was said to speak for. Accused of producing a #queerbaiting music video and having, what turned out to be, a pretty damn racist boyfriend.

 P.S. I know it’s juicy goss and you can search #youlikegirls to go down your own internet rabbit hole to find out more).

The lesson you should take from this, is that  once you have a brand story that supports certain causes, you better make sure all your words, actions and business activities back them up before Gen Z come for you and you find yourself #cancelled as well. 

Catching And Keeping Gen Zs Attention

If you google the attention-span of Gen Z, you’re sure to be bombarded with horror headline highlights of marketing blogs detailing how Gen Z have an 8 second attention span and it’s the end of the world for marketers. I for one, don’t necessarily see this as a negative.

This to me is valuable insight. We’ve detailed the consumer journey for Gen Z already, we know that if they don’t align with your brand, they are unlikely to purchase from you regardless of the attention span that they have. They themselves do the work you would usually to ascertain quality over quantity traffic. 

To me, it just means focusing intently on the quality and impact of your content with that time restriction. I believe this “8 second rule” is far more important to note in the “research” part of their journey. It comes down to website speed and the need for a simple user journey.

Brand Persona And Human-Centered Design

60% of Gen Z’s won’t use sites that are difficult to navigate or take too long to load (Forbes). This means user-journey is a huge friction point, so making sure your site is simple to use and is running effectively is a make-or-break point for converting Gen Z users into customers. Human-centred design means designing systems around the core needs of those who use them. At its essence, it is designing everything you do with a “people first” mentality.

For Gen Z, this not only means you need a simple and efficient user journey for your site, but also a deep understanding of the core of “who they are”. So do your research, utilize feedback forms and take advantage of how often your niche in the Gen Z demographic posts online to create your brand persona for all your marketing efforts. 

The Marketing Tool That Transcends Generation

Fortunately, for the generations out there who struggle to turn the camera around on a Facetime call, Email marketing stands tall as a dominant success tool in marketing regardless of your birth year.

58% of Gen Z respondents check their email multiple times a day (Campaign Monitor). Furthermore, the same research revealed the majority of Gen Zers, 66.9%, receive 20 emails or less a day. Compared to other digital platforms, this means less competition for getting your message read. 

If you’re interested in learning more about utilizing unique and effective email campaigns, you can learn more about how we can help you to do so here.

Key Takeaways For Marketing To Gen Z

This new generation of digital-natives have huge buying power, a notable influence on trends and an innate desire for authenticity at the centre of their consumer behavior.  Brands targeting Gen Z must have a compelling brand story and take actions that genuinely align with Gen Z’s “need for truth” mentality.

A combination of this, and a recognition of Generation Z’s tech savvy and research based buying approach, means that brands that practice actionable integrity are sure to flourish and reap the influence power and financial rewards the next consumer generation has to offer. 

One thing is for sure, some of the naughty behavior we have seen in the past from big brands is sure not to fly with Gen Z.

How do you think Gen Z will influence consumer behavior in coming years?

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