Starting from the turn of the 20th century, it became common practice to give each successive generation of people a new nickname. Millennials were the latest such demographic cohort, but their time in the limelight is about to come to an end. The eyes of the public are now increasingly turning their attention to individuals born after 1995, which are commonly called “Generation Z”.
While there is still ongoing debate regarding the name (other suggestions include “iGeneration”, “Digital Natives”, “Plurals”, “Post-Millennials”, “Deltas”, and even “The Mass Shooting Generation”), few people would call into question the rising prominence of Gen Z. Generation Z makes up about 26% of the total population in the United States. With a spending power estimated between $29 and $143 billion, Gen Z is quickly becoming a lucrative demographic for businesses to pursue. However, a lot of companies still don’t know how to appeal to Gen Z.
To bring some clarity to the matter, we have decided to write a short guide on what makes Gen Z different from previous generations, and how you can leverage this knowledge for more effective digital marketing.
One of the defining features of Gen Z is the fact that they grew up surrounded by digital technology. Their gadget of choice is the ubiquitous smartphone, while desktop computers are a less popular choice. This predilection for using mobile devices is leading digital marketers to embrace a mobile-first approach for creating Gen Z marketing content. As far as web design is concerned, this approach puts an increased focus on developing websites that display well on devices of all sizes, and which are convenient to navigate by means of touchscreen interfaces. Another trend related to the popularity of mobile is location-based advertising since Gen Z is always browsing on the move.
Next Gen Social Media
Digital marketers frequently make the mistake of conflating the social media habits of Gen Z and millennials. Millennials tend to prefer social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, while Gen Z’ers are more likely to be found browsing Instagram, Snapchat, and other platforms native to mobile devices. Gen Z’ers mostly use social media for chatting with friends and sharing ephemeral content, which is no coincidence since the aforementioned platforms were designed from the ground up for such use. As a result, digital marketers attempting to appeal to Gen Z’ers on social media should work with social media experts to create constant content updates, short-form entertainment, and doing all of this in a more casual tone.
Gen Z’ers came of age during the Great Recession of the late 2000s and early 2010s. Even though they were still too young to experience the economic fallout directly, Gen Z’ers still felt the impact of the recession on their household. Since there was less money to go around, Gen Z’ers developed a frugal attitude towards finance from an early age. From a marketing perspective, this means that Gen Z’ers tend to respond favorably to promotional tactics that involve sales, discounts, and special deals. One way businesses can leverage this kind of behavior is by having a dedicated sales section on their websites, in order to quickly grab the attention of budget-conscious Gen Z consumers.
Gen Z’ers tend to be outspoken about what they believe in, and the causes they support. And if they get the impression that a business is engaging in practices that go against their values, they will avoid dealing with it in favor of competitors that are more in line with their beliefs. As a result, businesses have to tread carefully when creating their online image, lest they end up alienating the Gen Z crowd. A more proactive approach to garnering the favor of Gen Z is to present your businesses as upholding the same kinds of values, including inclusivity, multiculturalism, sustainable business practices, environmental awareness, etc.
As far as Gen Z is concerned, marketing campaigns created for massive audiences are a thing of the past – they have already seen a countless number of them as a result of being exposed to the internet from an early age. In order for a marketing tactic to be effective on Gen Z’ers, it has to provide a personalized experience. Gen Z’ers are not averse to digital marketing as such, but they will not stand for content that is phrased as a generic sales pitch, i.e. one that ignores their specific needs and desires as consumers. This means that the Gen Z crowd will have to provide all manner of personalized content, from product suggestions to newsletters, to landing pages, to content.
It is no secret that Gen Z loves to play video games online. The video game industry is earning greater profits than Hollywood, which means that creating video game content can be a lucrative proposal for other businesses as well. With that being said, this does not mean that all companies should start making video games. What they can do instead is making sure their online UX design provides a similar kind of experience to playing a video game. This can be accomplished through features such as progress bars, level-up mechanics, virtual currencies, etc. From a marketing perspective, gamification can be summed up as an attempt to create a structured experience where consumers can reach predefined milestones based on their activities, which enables them to reap different kinds of benefits.
Personalization is Key
Gen Z is set to become the dominant social force on the online market. And when that moment comes, only those businesses that managed to create a positive relationship with Gen Z’ers will be in the position to reap the rewards, including profits, brand awareness, and thought leadership. But in order to get there, they will have to start employing digital marketing tactics specifically tailored to appeal to Gen Z tastes.