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Generation Z: All you need to know about the new spending force

Marketing Advice

Move over Millennials, Generation Z is set to take over.

The generation buzzword for the longest time has been the all-too-familiar ‘Millennial’ – you know the ones who are brash, narcissistic, and entitled? Or so the cliché goes. But we cannot forget the new spending force, Generation Z, that’s about to take the world by storm.

Generation Z is the generation after Millennials who were born after 1995. It’s said that 2.5 billion people will form part of this generation by the end of 2020. This makes it the largest generation of consumers – ever. 

According to Khoros, a customer-engagement platform, “Their spending power is already undeniable, and marketers who want to remain relevant must understand their unique needs.” Generation Z is the self-aware generation. They know what they want and how to achieve it. They are savvier consumers and you can’t bullshit them. They want transparency with no ‘smoke and mirrors’.

What makes Generation Z so different from previous generations?

  1. The first and most significant differentiating factor is they don’t know what it’s like to live without the Internet, social media, and smartphones. “A recent study found that 74 percent of Gen Z members spend five hours or more every day online. Therefore, marketers who want to capture the attention of this generation need to look for them online and find ways to connect with them there, which means catering to their unique preferences,” says Khoros.

  2. Another interesting fact – especially for those trying to grow online databases – is they value their online privacy a lot more than Millennials because they are more aware of their personal online brands and do what they can to protect their reputations. Some of them do not have Facebook accounts for this very reason and stick to secret, more anonymous platforms such as Snapchat or private Instagram accounts.

  3. Generation Z has grown up learning about global warming and the threats human interference have posed to the Earth, and see themselves as the ones who need to clean up the world. They will very likely make safe choices in their careers but will also look to careers where they can enable and assist society.

  4. They need to be experts. Gone are the days when kids want to get a job at a restaurant during their off-time, these kids want to start online businesses, they want to be flexible and they want to be in control. And that is exactly what they’ll be.

  5. Generation Z wants to get involved with a brand – think influencers. Nowadays they are more willing to invest their own time and energy into a brand and its reputation. However, influencers must be as authentic as possible and effectively align with a brand’s overall messaging and values to succeed and be trusted.

  6. Traditional marketing doesn’t work for Generation ZVision Critical, a cloud-based CXM SaaS company, believes, “Gen Z customers respond to edgy and visual marketing tactics. Videos—especially short ones like those created via the social network Vine—work particularly well with young customers.”

How does Generation Z communicate?

According to an article on How Generation Z works, people belonging to this generation would far rather text than have a face-to-face conversation. Single-topic conversations are virtually non-existent, instead, multiple cross-topic conversations occur frequently. This also speaks to the high frequency of multiple screens. According to AdWeek, “87% of consumers use more than one device at a time,” meaning picking up a cellphone during a TV advert, for example, is very common.

What we can gather from this is:

  • They want quick, simple, and bite-sized messages like videos, images, short headlines and text. 

  • They can consume a lot of information quickly, but lose interest just as fast. So, keep it simple – and quick –  stupid!

  • They want answers now, and they know where to get them. If they are unsure as to how something works, they Google it, if they can’t remember a special date, they’ll message the relevant person. If they need advice, they’ll ask a Whatsapp group. Speed trumps accuracy for Generation Z. Don’t rely on their attention span. The more platforms they get to use, the better. 

What does this mean for marketers?

Marketers need to sit up and take notice of this very special generation and remember that the way they want to consume messages is different, as is their world view and opinions on brands.

  1. Marketers need to ensure that their messages are short and to the point, with a strong emphasis on how to help the consumer rather than the brand. According to the Digital Marketing Institute, the attention span of Gen Z consumers is currently measured at 8 seconds. They are on a mission to save the world and your message can’t get in their way. It’s really important to get your message or point across in as few sentences or messages as possible. Create content filled with unique videos, GIFs, memes, or images and you’ll easily engage with them.

  2. The New York Times article further explains that same-sex marriage and multiracial families are not historical events to these people, but rather a way of life. Don’t harp on these events – treat them as commonplace. As a brand, it becomes very important to be more inclusive and open to ideas and using real people to tell a brand’s story.

  3. They learn about technology and quickly. The first true digital natives are smart; they take in messages, digest, remember and move on. Know where they are getting their information from and then know how to use their technology or be the laughing stock. Mobile devices should be top-of-mind for marketers and should be a focal point for any brand wishing to market to Gen Z appropriately. Make sure they get a great user experience across your brand. The Digital Marketing Institute gives marketers some great tips, “To accomplish this consider short sentences rather than paragraphs. Use subheads and bullet points more often, add more white space for easily navigable pages and be diligent with mobile interface design.”

In a nutshell, marketers need to learn to speak, breathe, and eat like Generation Z to reach them. This brand-new breed of consumer and entrepreneur may still be in its teens and tweens, but it’s getting ready to take over the world.