Written on 07/26/16 7:12 PM
Just when marketers finally figured out the media habits and minds of Millennials, another group of consumers is making its way up the purchasing chain. Generation Z, a population born from the mid-’90s to 2010, may be barely into adulthood, but they wield big purchasing power and brands are taking notice.
With around 60 million members of Generation Z in the US, this group outnumbers Millennials, and displays some unique characteristics. They’re more diverse, raised by Gen X parents with a post-9/11 sober sensibility, and, whether due to the boundary-less nature of the Internet or the near daily exposure to events around the world, they have a mindset that is more global than any generation before.
As a generation raised with a device in their hand, they crave the ability to share like no consumer group before them. How can brands prepare to court this group of influencers and consumers? Here are some of our thoughts:
They share. Everything from their reaction to an episode of a show they’re watching (more likely than not on a personal device rather than on TV), to their excitement over a new purchase, and terrible service. They take a picture of food that doesn’t meet their expectations and share it via multiple digital channels. They’re discerning consumers and aren’t afraid to express their love of a brand, or publicly express their disappointment. Don’t let them down. They won’t let you forget it. Brands need to be in constant listening – and reacting – mode.
They prefer pictures over words. Having a camera in their hand at all times makes it easy to show, rather than tell, what they’re doing or feeling. Like that shirt they’re trying on in the dressing room? Take a photo and send it to an entire social network asking what they think. Hate the look of the soggy burger and limp fries you picked up at the drive-thru, no better way to show the world your less-than-satisfying lunch than with a picture. They’re visual consumers who would rather watch a video than read an article. Brands that want to engage this population need to engage with them visually and encourage sharing of their own visual content (and make it easy!).
They want to be engaged. If you suddenly noticed groups of Gen Zs walking around with their mobile phones looking for the nearest gym (and not the kind you work out at), you witnessed this first hand. Pokemon Go quickly became one of the most used smart device apps, even surpassing the record held by Candy Crush Saga (it also created a surge in the stock value of The Pokémon Company and Nintendo). More than an app or game, Pokemon Go demonstrated that Gen Z wants to be immersed in, and to truly experience, something – and they have the technology in their hands to do just that. Brands that create content and engagement platforms have an opportunity to not only capture their attention, but to hold it. Just ask the 40 million Pokemon Go players racking up points to get to the next level.
They’re building their own brand. Every high school senior applying to college knows not to use their full name in social media – it’s too easy for colleges to check them out. Never before has a generation had such massive ability to build and control their own personal brands. For some, they’re even making money doing it on social channels before they graduate from high school (selfies have given way to YouTube stardom and millions of followers). Brands that understand this are reaching out to build relationships with Gen Z earlier. They’re inviting Gen Z to align with them, via ambassadorships, influencer campaigns, content dissemination opportunities and more. It’s a win-win for everyone – Gen Z gets to build their online presence and craft a personal brand, and marketers gain access and credibility to this powerful group.