We usually hear the word “next” when we’re in line at the bank or ticket counter, but lately, marketers are beginning to hear it more and more in context with Generation Z or Gen Z. This is the generation that comes after the millennials. They were born between 1996 and 2010 and number about 72 million.
At first blush, it would be easy to dismiss this younger generation, but here are a few things to consider. A July 2018 article in Forbes predicted that Gen Z would comprise 40% of U.S. consumers this year. According to Business Insider Intelligence, Gen Z would become the largest consumer population in the U.S. in 2026 and comprise 26% of our entire population, the largest group ever. In addition, Gen Z will also be our most ethnically diverse group. Back in September 2016, the International Business Times reported that Gen Zers were already spending $44 billion of their allowances on products annually. And those who aren’t yet old enough to go online and buy are influencing their parents.
What this means to marketers is that Gen Z isn’t just another public to market to, but one whose values and habits are markedly different than those of earlier generations. Most often publicized are Gen Z’s affinity for not one, but usually several digital devices, as well as social impact and innovation. Gen Z loves social media platforms, particularly those offering multifaceted content like Snapchat, Instagram and YouTube. Where they differ from millennials is that Gen Z actually spends less time on these platforms but relishes the self-expression and sense of community.
Macleans newsletter says 60% wish to work for employers who have social impact and that 26% already volunteer in their communities. Brand transparency and support of brands doing good in the community are important traits.
Inventors and innovators are flourishing on social media and appeal strongly to Gen Z. Social media’s expansive reach and crowdsourcing have broadened the appeal.
Marketing to Gen Z
To get an even better picture of Gen Z, video tech company Connatix surveyed more than 1,000 boomers, Gen Xers, millennials, and Gen Zers in the U.S. They were particularly interested in learning about the generational differences in engagement across different social channels. Cross channel approaches and multifaceted content are important in reaching Gen Z. In describing media consumption by Gen Z, David Kashak, Connatix CEO told KLmarketdaily, “They have a high regard for curation and recommendations and will use these features in concert with social media and UGC as a North Star for the stories they ultimately delve into more deeply on publishers’ sites.”
Kashak added that having more of everything so as to maximize content was the kind of media consumption Gen Zers crave. He said they wanted more video, audio, and feedback loops integrated in content as well. The Connatix survey also reported that a third of their Gen Z respondents preferred articles with interactive features like polls and quizzes. This is a promising opening for marketers to learn more about Gen Z’s needs and interests. Another 26% said they interacted with video summary content.
What marketers might also find encouraging is that 25% of Gen Zers said they wouldn’t mind paying for subscriptions if they included features like personalized podcasts, expert videos and even unbiased news. In contrast, only 11% of boomers had a positive response.