It feels like as marketers were just getting the hang of how to market to Millennials, and now there’s a new generational force that simply can’t be ignored; Generation Z. While they may not initially seem all that different than the tech loving generation before them, there are some key differences that show they may be even more challenging to figure out.
So, who are Gen Zers? Pew Research says that anyone born after 1997 belongs in this new generation. It's the largest in American history (making up 27% of the population), the most ethnically diverse, and is a generation that has never known a time without technology. What makes Generation Z different, is how they have interacted and adapted to technology around them.
Before you dismiss this young generation as “not your target consumer”, you should know that 93% of parents say their Gen Z children have a significant influence on family purchasing decisions; from household goods to large furniture pieces. This means that regardless of who your target consumer may be, Generation Z should still be considered in your marketing and sales strategies.
As a Gen Zer in marketing myself, I can attest to the differences in how we use and interact with technology, and what we expect from brands in the future. Here are some tips to set your marketing in the right direction for this new generational cohort.
1. Be Intentional with Ads
Ads have proven to be very successful in the past and will continue to catch the attention of Generation Z, however, 69% of the generation feels that ads are disruptive to their user experience.
What does this mean for you? As I said before, this generation interacts with technology differently. Having never known a time without technology also means they have been exposed to an overwhelming amount of media from a young age.
If you remember the struggle of the Millennial 12 second attention span, you’ll be surprised to hear the Generation Z attention span is less than that of a goldfish, 8 seconds. But keep in mind this generation is not attention deficient, its quite the opposite. Gen Zers have developed what has been referred to as an “8 second filter”. They're actually able to process information quickly and judge its quality and trustworthiness in seconds.
This generation thinks differently and wants brands to understand who they are. They know when a company is selling to them simply out of profit, which has led to 62% of the generation to adopt ad blocking software. They will skip an ad whenever possible, which creates the challenge of getting information in front of them quicker than ever.
This generation prefers interactive content. Gen Zers enjoy engaging with brands online, particularly if there is a customized approach that lets them choose the outcome. They are known for their forward thinking and want to be in charge of their own future. One thing that sets them apart from Millennials is that they value self-expression and individuality over fitting in.
Using Customer Relationship Management tools, like HubSpot, will help you personalize your marketing and sales approach for this generation. Gen Zers want to see content that’s relevant to what they are interested in as individuals, rather than a group. Creating media campaigns that prioritize consumer generated content is a great way to capture Gen Zers attention and harness their creative skills for your brand.
2. Prioritize Mobile
Generation Z is hyperconnected and has access to vast amounts of information right at their fingertips. As search engines get smarter at understanding search query intents, so too are Gen Zers at identifying trustworthy content in seconds (remember the 8 second filter).
Over 60% of the generation will not stay on a site if it takes more than 3 seconds to load or if it's difficult to navigate, and this is even more important with mobile devices. If your site is not optimized for a mobile experience, you will quickly lose the attention of this generation, especially with over 70% making online purchases with their mobile devices.
Gen Zers are researchers. Many will use multiple devices at a time to compare products and services. Even using their mobile devices in brick and mortar stores to find similar items for less or look for discounts. This means you may need to alter your promotional strategy to meet their needs. They want information first, deals later.
3. Dive into Video Content
Generation Z lives online. Over 60% of them stream videos on YouTube daily and collectively they prefer streaming services over traditional cable tv. Despite spending an average of 10 hours online each day, Gen Z actually prefers to have interactions with friends and family face to face rather than messaging. This change in preferred communication can be harnessed by companies through video content.
Create videos that showcase products or services and how they are used. Use video ads on YouTube, social media, and other streaming services to put your content where Gen Zers are. Even if they do skip the ad, at least you will be on their radar.
4. Be Transparent
Think about this...a generation that is so intertwined with the internet, also trusts it less and less when it comes to their personal information. With countless stories of privacy breeches and information leaks, it’s no wonder only 30% of Gen Zers say they are comfortable providing companies with their personal information without knowing how or why it’s used. They use online searches to gather information in order to make smarter decisions about their purchases. This means they may stay in the awareness stage of the buyers journey longer and often switch from site to site to find the best value and offers.
What does this mean for you? Avoid losing their attention by being straight forward with the product or service. 60% of Gen Zers consider price to be the biggest decision factor in choosing a certain brand. This generation is less brand loyal overall but will stick with a company that can prove they understand their values.
5. Build an Inbound Approach
Much like with Millennials, an inbound approach will be the best strategy to capture the attention of and build loyalty with Generation Z. HubSpot defines inbound marketing as a methodology that attracts customers through the creation of valuable content and experiences that are tailed to them. It is intended to form connections and solve their problems.
As I mentioned above, Gen Z enjoys customized and interactive content. Consider installing a chat bot on your site to help guide them in their direction. Remember, they are researchers. This often means they already know what they are looking for when they arrive on a site. Use technology and software to analyze how they interact with your site and its content. This will provide insight into where you might be losing their attention.
In summary, Generation Z has already become an influential force in the economy, and their collective buying power should not be ignored. The good news is they are just now starting to graduate college and enter the workforce, which means you have some time to start creating your Gen Z targeted campaigns. Create some buyer personas and start getting to know the Gen Zers relevant to your market.
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