Born between the mid-1990s to the early 2000s these people have never known life without a phone and use an average of 5 screens (that’s a smartphone, tablet, TV, desktop, and laptop) to look at content, compared to 3 used by millennials. Gen Z are looking for new, exciting ways to consume content but still want brands to be authentic, so how exactly do you market to them?
Let’s start with the basics…
Born into a world of technology and social media, this generation are entrepreneurial, independent and just starting to enter the workforce. They’re on their phones constantly, which is no surprise, and use social media as their primary tool to interact. According to Bloomberg Gen Z make up 32% of the global population, just slightly ahead of millennials at 31% with whom they share stereotyped traits of being sensitive and health conscious.
They’re the future. Not only that, but their consumption behaviours are radically different to previous generations due to their digital ability. Since they have been brought up in the digital age, they are much more attuned to fake news (77% of Britons are more cautious of the content they share) and when they are being sold to, so they can see through existing online marketing tricks. This calls for fresh styles of marketing to try and grab their attention.
Gen Z are all about brand authenticity. This comes down to authentic brand messaging. If you know your audience and brand identity, stick to it. Brands like Glossier use memes to break up a product-heavy social media feed and add relatability, it’s a great way to drive engagement and it works for them. Treat customers like individuals, not market segments or groups. Authenticity in a brand has never been more important as Gen-Z use their digital apps to create a niche and curated feed, across their social media feed and other content providers.
Their desire for authentic content has driven them away from celebrities to more intimate followings like social media influencers and YouTubers. With such easy interaction between influencers and social users, Gen-Z expects the same level of interaction with brands too. Again, brands like Glossier are living by this rule and use micro influencers to promote their content, whilst on their own channel they ensure every comment or message is replied to, and even base their products and packaging on customers feedback and requests.
It’s no surprise then that social channels are putting more of an emphasis on engagement. Instagram recently introduced the ability to do polls and ask questions on stories to enable more interaction while live streamed videos trigger notifications to all followers to encourage real-time interaction. Brands are also doing this through other means. If you’ve ever been logged in to Channel 4 or ITV Player on your Smart TV, you may have noticed that your name has been integrated into TV adverts to try and jolt your attention. A ‘smart’ move, as the Adobe study also revealed that 79% of consumers polled would like to engage with content via a home entertainment streaming device in the next 5 years.
Born in a time of instant messaging, WiFi and social media, Gen Z expect content fast. If your website doesn’t load in a matter of seconds, you could risk losing the session. Out of the 5 screens used by Gen Z, their phone comes up tops, so it’s more important than ever that your site is mobile-friendly and easy to navigate.
Gen Z spend an average of 5.9 hours a day consuming content on their phones (compared to 5.2 hours for millennials) and with unlimited and instant information at their fingertips, no-one can blame the younger generation for having a supposed shorter attention span. But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Although your window for catching consumer’s attention is brief, consistent and fast-moving content is key. Getting straight to the point is vital, otherwise your audience is likely to lose interest. Your message needs to be clear from the start and needs to be readily available to take action on – but the choice to do so needs to be theirs.
This is why the swipe up feature on Instagram Stories is perfect for selling to Gen Z. A short picture or video captures the target audience’s attention, they can then make an immediate and easy decision to invest in your product or service in one quick swipe, all without leaving the app.
Born in an age of fake news, climate crises and global unrest, Generation Z are an ethical and open-minded group in comparison to their supposed ‘selfish’ predecessor, the millennial.
Generation Z want their brands to take a stand and are much more likely to buy from a brand that has a social cause, whether that be tackling racism, homophobia or climate change. According to AdAge, this socially conscious audience want brands to take a political stance too.
However, it is vital that social and ethical issues are handled with care in the business world. Don’t take advantage of young people’s values purely for profit. Your message needs to be clear and meaningful. Adopting a cause not only needs to be genuine and authentic, but align with your brand message. While you can utilise ethical consumption to your advantage, you need to believe in what you’re selling. Attaching a rainbow to a product doesn’t make it a social movement…
McKinsey & Company found that consumers want brands to ‘choose the specific topics (or causes) that make sense for them and its consumers and to have something clear to say about those particular issues. In a transparent world, younger consumers don’t distinguish between the ethics of a brand, the company that owns it, and its network of partners and suppliers. A company’s actions must match its ideals, and those ideals must permeate the entire stakeholder system.’
With a plethora of products and services readily available online, Gen Z can afford to be picky. So how do you make your content stand out from the crowd?
Make your content stand out to Gen-Z consumers through personalisation. Think of a digital version of Coca Cola’s famous names on bottles campaign. Use personalisation in everything you do; test email strategies, curate a clean and unique feed for different audiences and steer clear of mass emails and untargeted advertising.
Spotify takes tailored content to a whole new level, with their hyper-personalisation strategy that allows them to know users music tastes better than they do. They use browsing behaviour to enable them to offer personalised content, products and services that are more meaningful to the user. Their ‘Discover Weekly’ playlist offers users 30 new songs based on the music they have previously listened to. We’ve listened to this playlist, and it’s good.
We’re in the age of the robots, VR and AI and with everyone able to get their hands on a decent camera and editing apps just through their phone, everyone is a creator. Gen Z expects their brands to be too.
They want quick, thought-out content. It doesn’t need to be of the highest quality, if anything, rough around the edges just adds to your brand authenticity. But be careful, the technological line is thin. Although Gen Z love robots and AI, if they’re made to feel like they’re talking to a robot, they’ll be left unimpressed and dissatisfied.