What digital marketers need to know about Generation Z

“Generation Z,” the generation born after millennials, is emerging as the next big thing for market researchers, cultural observers and trend forecasters.

generation zWith Generation Z on the cusp of becoming the largest segment of the global population, many are shifting their focus to this generation’s potential. Gen Z will comprise 32 percent of the global population of 7.7 billion in 2019, nudging ahead of millennials, who will account for a 31.5 percent share.

The race to market to Generation Z is on. The oldest members of this cohort are fresh out of university or soon to graduate, entering the workforce and gaining notable stake in consumer spending. By 2020, Generation Z will account for 40 percent of all consumers. Their buying power is $44 billion and expands to $600 billion when considering the influence they have on their parents’ spending. Marketing teams are moving swiftly to capture the attention of this segment before their competitors.

Like each generation to come before, Generation Z comes with a unique set of behaviours and presents a unique set of challenges for those looking to reach them. Here’s what you need to know about Generation Z before crafting your strategy.

They’re the Mobile-First Generation

Members of Generation Z were all born after 1995, so they’re unfamiliar with a world without cutting-edge technology. They’re the first generation raised in the era of smartphones, and many don’t remember a time before social media. While millennials were mobile pioneers, teens in Generation Z are mobile natives. On average, members of Generation Z between the ages of 13-17 received their first smartphone by age 12, compared to age 16 for 18-24 year olds and age 20 for ages 25-34.

Smartphones reign as the most popular device for Generation Z; 78 percent use their smartphone regularly to stream video, shop online and communicate with their peers. It’s important to note that this generation utilises their smartphone to complete just about any of their day-to-day tasks. They will simultaneously create a document, edit it, post a photo on Instagram and talk on the phone, all from the user-friendly interface of their device.

They Value Authenticity

Authenticity has become a major focal point in the world of marketing, but Generation Z takes it a step even further. They’ve made it clear that what they care about more than anything is feeling like they know the brand or the person behind the camera. Because Generation Z has been exposed to digital marketing from the earliest stages of their lives, they’re the first to filter out anything that appears artificial or manufactured. They don’t want to feel marketed to— they want genuine relationships with the brands they favour.

Generation Z are driven by values, 68 percent state that it’s important to them to do their part in making the world a better place, which in turn directly impacts their buying behaviour. Knowing a brand is socially conscious influences their purchasing decisions. This is especially true with those brands that integrate humanitarian and sustainable elements into their supply chain. From design to manufacturing and beyond, these companies communicate responsible practices in-store and online.

They’re Financially Conservative

Generation Zers are much more financially-savvy than their generational predecessors. A great deal of their formative years were impacted by the Great Recession in 2008; they witnessed financial struggles from their parents and watched millennials enter the workforce facing high unemployment and wage stagnation, saddled with tremendous student debt. Over 60 percent of this generation already has a savings account, a much higher proportion than any other generation had at their age. Price and quality are a big consideration for Generation Z; they’re more apt to search for better deals and pricing options on their smartphones before making a purchase.

According to Jason Dorsey, Co-Founder and Gen Z researcher at The Center for Generational Kinetics, “Gen Z is very practical and they won’t overpay like other generations did when they were their age.” While a major portion of Generation Zers still financially reliant on their parents, many are interested in part-time jobs or entrepreneurial endeavours to secure their own discretionary funds.

They’re Notorious Multi-Taskers

Because this generation has always been a part of a connected society, they’re used to constant updates from all their apps. It’s likely that they spend their day toggling through different social platforms, communicating with friends while watching television and listening to music or podcasts while they work. In fact, Generation Z tends to juggle approximately five screens at a time. Switching between different tasks and paying simultaneous attention to a wide range of stimuli comes naturally to Generation Z.

At the same time however, members of Generation Z have the shortest attention spans to date. The average attention span for a Generation Zer is just eight seconds, which shockingly, is even shorter than that of a goldfish. This generation is much more responsive to images, GIFs and emojis than plain text. Creatively using visuals is more likely to grab their attention and leave a lasting impression over long-form content.

Right before our eyes, Generation Z has already transformed itself as the largest untapped market today— with a potential that could exceed anything we have ever seen from Millennials and prior generations. In order to successfully capture the Generation Z segment, you must closely examine their unique preferences in comparison to their older counterparts.

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Guest blog by Amanda Peterson, Enlightened Digital
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