Move over, Millennials. Gen Z has taken the stage. And it’s time brands and advertisers start acting like it.
WHO IS GEN Z? AND WHY ARE THEY SO INFLUENTIAL?
Born after 1996, Generation Z (today’s 10 to 25 year-olds) now makes up over 20% of the U.S. population and is making their mark known. A demographic largely shaped and influenced by numerous social, political and economic events, including the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact and the Black Lives Matter movement, this generation of digital natives brings a whole new outlook – especially when it comes to where and how they spend their time and dollars.
With buying power nearing $150 billion, Gen Z is the future. Immune to traditional marketing and committed to making choices that align with their values, this media-savvy generation holds brands to a higher standard than ever. Understanding exactly what those values are will help you better communicate with them, gain their trust and eventually their loyalty.
Gen Z expects transparency and authenticity from brands, and they won’t settle for anything less. It’s tough to put anything past this skeptical (and highly educated) group – they’re ready to do their research. Within just a few minutes, they will have covered all of the bases – your website, your social accounts and your Google reviews. They want to know what you stand for. They want to hear sincerity in your voice – and see real, regular people using your products and services.
SUSTAINABILITY AND ENVIRONMENTALISM
According to a recent First Insight report, 73% of Gen Z consumers surveyed were willing to pay more for sustainable products, which is more than any other generation – and they’re influencing other generations to jump on board. They are committed to putting the planet’s health first by cutting down on consumption, reducing carbon footprint and supporting small batch producers and local businesses.
A generation focused on work-life balance and making a life of their own, they are more likely to pursue nontraditional work suited to their desired lifestyle. In fact, 50% of Gen Zers freelance, and 72% of teens in the U.S. say they want to own their own business one day – more than any other generation. Ideas of self-empowerment, self-care and determination resonate with them.
DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION
The most racially and ethnically diverse generation yet, Gen Z believes it’s important for brands to address diversity and inclusion. Beyond race and ethnicity, these social justice warriors are also advocates for gender liberation, neurodiversity and accessibility for individuals with disabilities. Most Gen Zers agree that forms or profiles should include more than the standard binary options.
STAND FOR SOMETHING. AND LIVE IT OUT.
Be bold about your company values. What are you most passionate about? Take a stance on social issues, whether LGBTQ+ rights, diversity, body positivity or social responsibility, and make your voice heard – amplifying employee and customer voices as much as your own. Gen Z will take notice when you speak with authenticity, and more importantly, walk the talk.
VIDEO, VIDEO AND MORE VIDEO.
Gen Z has an increasingly shorter attention span of just eight seconds, compared to Millennials’ 12-second attention span, making video popular among this generation. Short-form video engages users with short, impactful messaging, and is most commonly and effectively used on YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok (platforms Gen Z spends the most time on).
MEET THEM ON MOBILE.
On average, Gen Z got their first smartphone at age 12 (compared to Millennials’ average of 17) – making them a mobile-focused generation. They’re doing almost everything on their phones, from entertainment to shopping – so it’s more important than ever that your digital content is optimized for mobile.
UNDERSTAND HOW THEY USE SOCIAL PLATFORMS.
Understanding how Gen Z uses popular social media platforms is critical for knowing how to use each one to its unique strengths and creating content that engages with them. YouTube is the number one platform Gen Z turns to, whether it's for relaxation, education or a mental pick-me-up. Instagram delivers the “most relevant” social commerce experiences, with 60% of Gen Z claiming to use it to discover new brands, products and services. And no surprise here – the “TikTok Generation” has more users on TikTok than any other platform, besides Snapchat. The appeal? Attention-grabbing, content-rich video, delivered in a hyper-personalized algorithm.
Gen Z expects personalized experiences from brands, growing up with curated Netflix selections, Spotify playlists and Amazon product recommendations. They don’t respond well to insincere or aggressive sales marketing, but rather brands that are personable, relatable, community-oriented, and even fun and playful. Find out their pronouns, spill some humor, ask questions to help them (and you) find what they’re looking for, or connect with them through influencers.
Gen Z wants their voice to be heard. Give them opportunities to speak and engage with your brand.