Take a look at your past campaigns. What audience were you trying to reach? Your answer may vary, but it likely revolves around three generations: Baby Boomers, Gen X, and the famously hard-to-reach Millennial generation. With Millennials having the power they do now, they have been the target audience for the majority of companies. With so much marketing thrown in their faces, however, the Millennials have tapped out. While marketers have struggled to find new ways to reach this audience, there has been a virtually untapped growing market: Generation Z.
There is some debate as to where the Millennial generation ends and where Gen Z begins. Some say it starts as early as being born in 1995. Others say that Gen Z does not begin until the 2002 babies. In this case, let’s say that Gen Z was those born as early as 2000 (give or take a few years). That being said, this generation is coming to an age in which their buying power is greater than ever before. They range from the toddlers gaining new interests (with the help of their parents’ purchasing power) to the teenagers that are entering and graduating high school. The common factor is that they are reaching major milestones in their lives, and they need companies that will help them get there. Whether it is a bank to help navigate student loans or a coffee shop to help get them through the school day, Gen Z is looking to build brand loyalty. Here are just a few of the reasons why you should be marketing to Gen Z now instead of waiting for them to be on everyone’s radar.
Part of the appeal of Gen Z is just how vast they are. Though the oldest are only fresh out of high school, Gen Z represents about 25% of the US population. That equals about 60 million people, outnumbering Millennials by nearly 1 million. Mere size alone makes them a desirable market. If you want a large generation to be loyal to your brand, young and impressionable Gen Z is the way to go. Their size also gives them incredible buying power, contributing $44 billionto the American economy despite their young age. They seem to be aware of their power, and there is nothing that annoys them more than being cast aside or characterized as Millennials. Giving them the same attention that Millennials get will create an affinity to your brand.
Gen Z is more than just their size. They are mostly parented by Gen X. Due to their age, the majority of them still live with their parents. Therefore, they have a major influence on their parents’ buying decisions. Kidfluence is the act of parents turning to their children for advice on brands and products. Most commonly seen with technology, parents ask their children for advice on which phone, laptop, or apps to get. However, kidfluence spreads beyond technology, particularly when brand loyalty is involved. For example, a local credit union could help a young Gen Z person set up a bank account and build their credit. This builds brand loyalty. When this person’s parents are frustrated with their bank and looking for a new one, he or she will recommend the institution that helped to organize his or her money and prepare for the future. Reaching the Gen Z market will not only provide you access to the largest living generation, but also open the door for new Gen X customers.
Gen Z is clearly a crucial market to reach. The next logical step is to figure out how to market to them. And who better to tell you than our Gen Z intern (that would be me)? Here are some tips that will get you far with this market.
- Know Who We Are!
One thing is for sure: we are not Millennials. Gen Z is often ignored or mushed together with Millennials in a social media campaign that often barely applies to us. We are very different from Millennials, and therefore must be marketed to differently. Gen Z grew up in the age of technology, many of us not knowing a time before social media. We were also raised through some of the most difficult times in American history. While Millennials were raised in a time of peace and prosperity, Gen Z children grew up in a post-9/11 world. We saw our parents’ struggle through the Great Recession. We were exposed to the harsh realities of the world much earlier than Millennials. Therefore, Gen Z tends to be more realistic. We also tend to be more careful and cautious, learning from both the world and the mistakes of Millennials. These are just some of the many differences between Millennials and Gen Z.
Despite the major differences in time, the generation that Gen Z is most similar to is the Silent Generation. This generation spanned the late 20’s to the early 40’s, and were similarly cautious, private, and focused on sensible careers. They also grew up through rough times, like the Great Depression. Gen Z is also very entrepreneurial. If we follow the trends of the Silent Generation the way that we have been, Gen Z is likely to be one of the richest generations of all time.
Everyone knows Millennials and Gen Z for technology. Unlike Millennials, who received technology, Gen Z grew up with technology. It has always been a part of their lives in a greater way than any other generation. That being said, Gen Z has certainly developed their own technological habits and left some behind with the Millennials. Gen Z has learned from Millennials’ online mistakes. We are more private about their lives on social media, knowing very well that a bad post on Facebook or Twitter can haunt them for the rest of their lives. That is part of the reason why so many in Gen Z are drawn to Snapchat. The content is out in the world for no longer than 24 hours and can be kept much more private than messages on other forms of social media. Though Facebook’s Instagram still holds a large Gen Z audience, Snapchat has far more Gen Z users. According to eMarketer, Instagram is predicted to gain 1.6 millionusers under 24 in 2018. Snapchat, however, is poised to gain 1.9 million in the same age range.
To reach Gen Z, the most effective advertisements are on Instagram and Snapchat. On Instagram, the ads appear right in the middle of the user’s content. Though it can be scrolled past quickly, it cannot be missed. Similarly, Snapchat advertising appears among the content, appearing before and after a user views their friends’ “stories.” However, a simpler and more effective way to target Snapchat users in your area is with filters and geotags. These allow users to enhance their Snapchats by adding graphics to their original picture. A creative filter can go a long way, entertaining the Gen Z audience while making memorable impressions.
One of the most difficult tasks is creating the right ad for these social media platforms. This is the generation of multi-taskers, short attention spans, and quick information processing. Because of this, an ad needs to grab a person’s attention quickly and effectively through social media platforms. Essentially, advertisers havesix seconds, five words, and an eye-catching graphic or videoto break through to this audience. Snapchat and Instagram introduced brand new platforms for marketing, but the major problem marketers have faced is how to summarize their whole campaign in six seconds. Think of it this way: If you had to say the message in a sentence, what would it be? That sentence is now your only copy. Let the image say the rest.
- Shopping Habits
To understand how to market to Gen Z, it is helpful to understand how we shop. As expected, Gen Z prefers to shop online. However, a major insight noted by Criteo is that we enjoy the retail experience. We like to go to stores and look around, but make most of our purchases online. When we do buy in store, 34% have researchedthe product online first. In addition, retail apps and websites are major influences. Over 50% of Gen Zsaid that these apps and websites were more impactful on purchasing decisions than search, online banner ads, and TV ads. Social media also heavily influences buying decisions. As far as ads are concerned, 62%of those surveyed say that they like ads that are useful and personalized to them. We are more inclined to buy the product if we see an ad that is purposeful to them.
- Sell the Experience
Gen Z does not want your product. We want the experience that is associated with your product. Gen Z greatly valuesexperienceover material possessions. This is rooted from their childhood during the Great Recession. We grew up in time where material possessions may have been limited for a few years. We learned to make the most out of life without materials. If you are a bank, you are not selling the credit card. You are selling the freedom of driving the car you helped us finance. If you are a hotel, you are not selling the room. You are selling the fun adventures we can have while staying there. Your product or service is just a thing to Gen Z, but the experience associated with it is a memory that will last a lifetime.
- Cause Marketing
Gen Z is one of the earliest generations to be living in a world of new social norms. Subjects that were previously met with controversy are simply social rights and norms for this generation. We watched historical actions, such as same sex marriage legalization, unfold during our childhoods. We are quick to support human rights issues and fight for the causes that we are passionate about, as proven by the March for Our Lives movement. To gain our loyalty for your brand, support a cause that we care about. It puts your company in a positive light from a public relations point of view. Gen Z is much more likely to buy a product if it supports a cause that we care about. We remain loyal to brands that have the same views and values as we do.
Gen Z is the next big thing. We are coming of age and filled with buying power. With our size and influence, getting an early start will benefit your company both today and in your future.