Over the past few years or so, millennial marketing has received the lion’s share of attention in terms of reaching an age-based demographic.
And it’s easy to see why. “Millennials have $200 billion in buying power.”
But if I’ve learned anything about marketing, it’s that success revolves around perpetual evolution.
Limiting yourself to a certain mindset or set of marketing techniques will only lead to stagnation.
While it’s true that millennials will continue to demand much of our attention for years to come, it’s important to acknowledge the presence of Generation Z—people born after 1995.
They’re on the rise and already have a significant influence.
Why should you care about generation Z?
Although it wasn’t all that long ago that this generation was still in diapers, things have changed, and they’re growing up quick.
A portion of Generation Z is already in college, and some of them have entered the workforce.
They’re also consumers and currently have $44 billion in buying power.
By 2018, their spending will reach $200 billion. That’s a massive increase in only a short period of time.
What’s even more interesting is their overall influence on spending. In fact, Gen-Zers influence $600 billion in family spending. That’s a lot!
Think about that for a second. In just a few short years, nearly half of all consumers will be from this generation.
When marketers look at stats like these, it’s easy to see why they’re chomping at the bit to reach this demographic.
Tailoring your marketing campaign to reach Generation Z right now can pay dividends in the long run.
It should also give you a decided edge over competitors that are still primarily focusing on reaching millennials.
So, let’s discuss how you can adjust your marketing efforts to better align this Gen-Zers.
Understanding the psychology of Gen Z
In order to connect with this generation, it’s first necessary to gain an understanding of their mindset and overall mentality.
We need to know what differentiates them from millennials and older generations.
Quite frankly, there are some considerable differences between this age group and the millennial generation.
As you might imagine, Gen-Zers are incredibly tech-savvy.
They’ve never known a world without the Internet, and the overwhelming majority of their media consumption is done online.
They use a variety of different devices, including desktop, laptop, tablet, smartphone, and so on.
It should also come as no surprise that they have short attention spans.
In fact, Bloomberg reports that “this new generation has an eight second attention span, down from 12 seconds in 2000, and 11 percent are diagnosed with attention deficiency syndrome, compared to 7.8 percent in 2003.”
What may come as a surprise is Generation Z’s desire to make the world a better place.
Even though they’re young, they seem to share a collective urgency to have a positive influence on the planet.
Sixty percent of 16- to 19-year-olds want their jobs to impact the world, 26 percent currently volunteer, and 76 percent are concerned about humanity’s impact on the planet.
These numbers are significantly higher than those for millennials, who seem to be far less concerned with having an impact on a global level.
As a result, companies with strong values and a focus on social responsibility can be appealing to Gen-Zers.
Finally, this generation has a penchant for performing research and “self-educating.”
Thirty-three percent of them watch lessons online; 20 percent read textbooks on their tablets; and 32 percent work with classmates online.
How does this information translate into a marketing approach?
Here are some specific tactics I find to be tremendously valuable when attempting to reach Generation Z.
Gen Z wants videos
I think that, hands down, video content is one of the most effective ways to market to this generation.
Studies have actually found that “93 percent of Gen Z say they visit YouTube at least once a week, and 54 percent visit the site multiple times throughout the day.”
These numbers are a clear indication that video is one of your best bets for getting your brand in front of this demographic.
More specifically, creating videos that serve a purpose and that are educational/entertaining can be highly effective.
The whole concept of “edutainment” is really huge right now, so taking this route can bring about some solid results.
The key is to be relatable and showcase the personality of your brand. If you come across merely as some faceless, overly-corporate company, you won’t have much of an impact.
Gen-Zers want brands they can genuinely connect with.
Just think about successful YouTube stars as a template. They’ve got personality and are great at relating directly to their audiences.
Gen Z isn’t all about Facebook
I think it’s safe to say that Facebook is the marquee social network for many brands.
And why wouldn’t it be? With well over one billion users, Facebook is the ultimate social media titan.
But did you know that a quarter of 13- to 17-year-olds have left Facebook this year?
If this trend continues, Facebook may merely be an afterthought in five years when Gen Z is all grown up.
When it comes to reaching older generations, Facebook is still one of your best bets, and this is likely to remain the case for the foreseeable future.
But when it comes to Generation Z, it’s important you go beyond Facebook and target other networks.
Maybe Facebook is losing its cool factor because so many of Gen Z’s parents are now on it, or maybe it’s because it doesn’t have quite the same appeal as newer networks.
Whatever the reason, your impact with Facebook is likely to be minimal.
Some specific networks that should be on your radar are Instagram, Snapchat, and Vine.
All three feature easily digestible content with images on Instagram and brief clips on all three that users can view in a matter of seconds.
A couple of other lesser known networks you may also want to experiment with are Whisper and Secret—also ideal for those with limited attention spans.
Gen Z likes social causes
As I mentioned earlier, a sizable portion of Gen-Zers are socially conscious and have a genuine desire to have a positive impact.
As you can see from this graphic, there’s a strong urge to change the world, and many Gen-Zers are passionate about certain causes.
Showing you genuinely care and are committed to a worthy cause can be your ticket to making a connection with this demographic and building brand equity.
If it’s clear you’re in it only for the money, these individuals will see through it, and it’s going to be nearly impossible to gain their respect or trust.
If you haven’t done so already, try to work social good into your marketing campaign and consider becoming active in philanthropy.
One of the best examples of a company that’s great at this is TOMS shoes with their “one for one” concept: they donate a product to a person in need for every product that’s purchased.
They have philanthropy woven into the very fabric of their brand identity and have been wildly successful as a result.
While you don’t necessarily need to go to this extreme, I would strongly suggest translating that into something your company legitimately cares about.
Gen Z prefers visuals over text
Keeping in line with their inherently short attention spans, it’s clear that long-winded, laborious text-based content just isn’t going to do the trick with Generation Z.
They simply won’t hang around long enough to hear your message.
Remember, this is the first generation that has basically grown up accustomed to auto-correct and emojis.
That’s why you’re way better off sticking with a steady regimen of visual content.
And if you are creating long-form content (like this article), you’ll want to break it up with plenty of images along the way.
Gen Z is on mobile
You should also keep in mind that Gen-Zers use more devices of differing screen sizes than millennials.
In fact, they prefer to use five different screens for multitasking:
This means your content needs to be mobile-friendly.
If you’re unsure of how to go about this, I recommend checking out this article I wrote on the topic.
Some specific ways to make your content more mobile-friendly include the following:
- Ditch or simplify pop-ups. Getting hit with irritating pop-ups immediately upon landing on your site can be a deal-breaker for Gen-Zers.
- Break up your text into smaller paragraphs. Using plenty of white space makes it easier on your readers’ eyes when they are scrolling through content and reduces cognitive overload.
- Use a lot of subheaders and bullet lists. Generation Z prefers scanning content rather than reading it in its entirety. Highlighting main points in this manner allows them to absorb your content with greater ease.
Gen Z has a short attention…hey, what’s that?
Did I mention that Generation Z has a short attention span?
But seriously, you want to keep your product pitches extremely brief. Otherwise, you’ll lose the majority of your leads.
I think the term “snackable content” captures the essence of what you should be going for.
They don’t want to have to filter through piles and piles of information just to figure out what you’re selling.
Instead, your message needs to be quick, concise, and to the point.
For example, rather than recording a 10-minute video on YouTube, go with a 6-15 second clip on Instagram or Vine.
The good news is that creating content for Generation Z is significantly less time-consuming than it is for millennials or Generation X.
Gen Z is curious
These younger folks have an appetite for knowledge.
They love researching things and learning on their own.
This is actually how many Gen-Zers make their purchasing decisions. They first spend time doing research, learning about the company and determining whether or not a product/service is right for them.
In particular, they enjoy using social media and YouTube for performing research.
You can capitalize on this tendency by creating an archive of content they can use to guide their decision-making. Experimenting with multiple forms of visual-centric media that educates is ideal.
For example, you might create a series of informative brief videos, infographics, slideshows, etc. that will help this younger audience learn more about your product/service.
Gen Z is turned off by salesy stuff
Rather than taking a more old-school—“BUY NOW!”—approach, you’re likely to have much more success educating Generation Z and subtly weaving the ask into your marketing message.
It’s important to note that this younger demographic as a whole really loathes ads.
They’re also incredibly adept at avoiding ads, especially the ones that are completely over-the-top and annoying.
The bottom line is that screaming your marketing message at the top of your lungs is likely to fall on deaf ears.
Instead, you should have way more success when you educate Gen Z consumers on your product and industry.
You definitely don’t want to come across as a sleazy used cars salesman. It’s more about humanizing your brand and being relatable.
By first gaining Gen-Zers’ interest and trust, you’ll be in a better position to promote your product/service to them and should see some solid conversion rates as a result.
To thrive as a marketer, you need to look to the future and stay on the cutting edge of things.
From a consumer perspective, there’s somewhat of a generational shift that will be happening over the next five years or so.
As Generation Z continues to account for more and more of many companies’ customer bases, it’s important to tailor your marketing campaign accordingly.
Reaching younger consumers requires a different approach and different channels.
By implementing these techniques, you should be able to get your marketing message in front of Generation Z. And more importantly, you should be able to build genuine rapport with them and convert them into actual customers.
How much attention are you currently giving to reaching Generation Z?