Coming after the infamous Millennials, Generation Z is often defined as the generation that grew up in the world of technology, rather than being introduced to it at a later point in life. They are comfortable with having the digital world at their fingertips and can generally use modern technology with ease.
However, that is not to generalize their abilities at all: Gen Z is a generation that goes far beyond being technologically savvy, and they are most definitely not to be undermined.
According to a report by MNI Targeted Media, by the year 2020, Gen Z is expected to make up 40% of consumers. The report also reveals that Gen Z-ers influence discretionary spending in a total worth $4 billion, spending “4.8 hours streaming audio, 4.6 hours on social media, 4.2 hours streaming video, 4.2 hours on websites, and one hour with magazines.” In particular, the most popular media forms that are used without interruption are “streaming video (55%), newspapers (44%), digital video (42%), and magazines (34%).”
Multiple sources such as Mediapost and Bizcommunity recognize this group to be the not only the largest, but also the most culturally and racially diverse group in history, and that is why marketing to them is so significant— for to market to them successfully would mean having the impact of one of the most influential generations of the current time.
Generation Z is a generation of value. Because they have been surrounded by the vast world of digital content for a great majority of their life, they know how to filter pertinent details from the common drivel. As consumers, their savviness with the media results in them being much more wary of what is being marketed towards them.
Tone, relevancy, and sincerity: if a message does not execute these aspects properly, the effort is immediately lost. For that reason, it is vital that a brand is aware of what tactics can effectively capture a Gen Z individual.
According to a report from MNI Targeted Media, 56% of Generation Z considers themselves to be socially conscious. Furthermore, more than 50% report that their purchasing decisions are impacted by knowledge that a brand is socially conscious themselves. As a generation, they like to see that companies are willing to step up and make a change, and as stated by a survey conducted by business intelligence platform PFSK, 69% believe that brands should help them achieve such goals.
Because they value value, the Gen Z approach to companies is about more than just being a mere consumer. A recent study titled “Dollars and Change: Young People Tap Brands as Agents of Social Change” by DoSomething Strategic reveals that more than 76% of Gen Z is open to purchasing, or has purchased, a brand or product to support issues the brand stands for, and on the flip side, more than 67% have stopped purchasing, or considered at least, from a company that did not align with their values.
Managing director of DoSomething Strategic, Meredith Ferguson, elaborates on this: “We continue to see the young people of America using their collective power as a driver of social change. Gen Z believes that everything, from what you buy to where you eat, can make a political statement and they wield that power far more often than they engage in traditional politics. With Gen Z expected to account for 40% of all consumers by 2020, this demographic is expecting brands to use their own platforms for good, and to pick up where politicians and politics may have let them down.”
Generation Z has grown up in a world that, in their eyes, is an interconnected affair. Entrepeneur.com describes it as that they tend “…to view the earth more as a single community — and to care for it as such.” It is because of this perspective that Gen Z-ers are often more concerned with environmental issues, sustainability, and global injustice and inequality.
A survey by PSFK states that nearly one-third of Gen Z has felt excluded by brands due to their identities; thus, if a brand is inclusive, a wider audience is not only reached, but a wider range of people will feel welcome. If a brand demonstrates a consciousness for issues such as being eco-friendly and having a concern for global warming, Gen Z will listen to them, handing over both their ears and their wallets.
They want to know that the brand cares.
When expectations are met, and authenticity and clear communication is felt, Gen Z will get involved. They will use the social media and technology they are so familiar with to rapidly spread the word about the brand. This a double-edged sword though, because campaigns and petitions against a company can happen in the same rapid time.
To reach this generation, this is what is certain: a brand must be more than a brand. They should also be human. They should be socially aware, and should demonstrate that they care for others. Just because Gen Z-ers grew up in a world of digital information, a preconceived notion for a preference for pixeled interaction should not be made.
About 74% of Gen Z, according to Business Insider, prefers to communicate and work with people face-to-face, rather than online. People like to know that people are human, and not limited to digital words on a screen – consumers like to know that companies have individuals behind them who care about the world, and are not just a big brand who only sees them as dollar signs.
Gen Z likes to know that a company is utilizing their impact to change the world for the better, and they are willing to support companies that authentically do as such. They, too, want the change to take place: thus, they will want to be a part of movements that are willing to do so.
To market to Gen Z, one needs to be real, and they need to care.
They want to change the world they are living in, and they want you to do it with them.