The Tea on Gen Z: Marketing Practices for the Upcoming Generation

Generation Z is the world’s most populous generation, comprised of teens and young adults. Gen Z is made up of young people born between 1995 and 2010. Earlier this year, Gen Z surpassed Millennials in number to make up roughly thirty-two percent of the population. As this generation ages, they will continually have more power over the market. This generation is already starting to influence trends and consumer habits. In several studies done by Cassandra, a cultural strategist and business intelligence expert company, trends in Gen Z’s spending and consumer habits have been uncovered. Gen Z is a unique and independent generation that should be taken into consideration when creating marketing campaigns.

Who is Gen Z?

According to a study by Cassandra, and the social media app, Snapchat, Gen Z is redefining norms in brand-consumer relationships. With their strong presence and buying power, Gen Z is already influencing their family spending which is being reflected in the market. For example, ninety-six percent of Gen Z’s parents state that their teen influences family spending. Gen Z is a pragmatic and independent generation that have grown up with full access to technology and are determined to define themselves based on their own merit.  Much like Millennials, this generation has grown up with the ability to contribute to society with their technological expertise and social media presence. However, Gen Z differs from Millennials in the way they consume and respond to media. While Millennials are active consumers of digital media, Gen Z is known to create their own media and content themselves.

What is Gen Z like?

Gen Z are highly independent individuals. This generation is competitive and like to let their work speak for themselves. Because they are more independent, they would prefer to have a small, close group of friends rather than a large group they don’t know as well. Teens in Gen Z consider their close friends as family. Because they are so connected with their friends online, Gen Z values the relationships between their family and friends more than the generation before them. Gen Z has observed the failures and successes of the Millennial generation before them in regard to relationships and social media, so they are ready to take a different approach to their online presence.

Gen Z is closely connected to their technology. They are the first generation to grow up with full access to convenient technology and they use it to their advantage. Unlike Millennials who received their first phone at age sixteen, Gen Z received phones sooner, at around age ten. Studies show sixty-eight percent of Gen Z admit to sleeping with their phones next to them and forty-six percent cannot go more than an hour without checking their phones. According to a study by Vision Critical, Gen Z spends an average of fifteen hours on their phones per week. Unlike older generations that may believe too much technology is hurtful, Gen Z disagrees and eighty-three percent of teens view technology as a useful way to make their lives better. Gen Z uses technology in every part of their life, from getting the news to listening to music, or keeping up with their friends and family. The most common apps used by this generation are Snapchat and YouTube. Snapchat is used to connect with friends while YouTube is used for entertainment. Unlike older generations, Facebook is not the main platform used by Gen Z.

A common misconception about this generation is that they are entitled or are constantly glued to their phones, consuming mind-numbing content. However, this could not be further from the truth. According to the same Cassandra and Snapchat study, sixty-five percent of Gen Z would rather portray their real, authentic life on social media as opposed to portraying an ideal life. Gen Z is also a very entrepreneurial generation. Vision Critical states that seventy-five percent of teens want to convert their hobbies into full time jobs and sixty-one percent of Gen Z would rather be an entrepreneur than an employee when they graduate college. With access to resources such as Shopify, it has never been easier for Gen Z to start their own entrepreneurial journey.

How do you market to Gen Z?

When marketing to this generation, it is important to understand their background and what matters to them. Gen Z is motivated by financial stability because they were growing up during the Great Recession and observed financial hits to the economy as well as their own households. Snapchat and Cassandra state in their study that fifty percent of this generation will be part of a minority race or ethnic group by the year 2020. This influential generation differs from Millennials in that they are less idealistic and more motivated by security. Gen Z also differs in the way they consume media and digital ads than other generations. Vision Critical states that Gen Z responds to visual and edgy campaigns that tell a story. The study goes on to state that Gen Z has an average of seven hours of free time per weekday that they spend on social media, listening to music or streaming videos or movies. As for their social media presences, sixty-one percent of this generation state they have deleted a past photo or post because it does not reflect who they are today. Traditional methods and past trends will not capture the attention of this generation.

Although this Gen Z is aging, currently, their parents are often the ones providing the funds for their purchases. Cassandra and Snapchat state in their study that forty-two percent of Gen Z needs their parent’s approval before buying an item. While teens are searching the most for items like clothing, shoes, and technology, parents are usually paying for these purchases using credit cards online and cash in person.

Mobile first marketing is most effective when trying to reach Gen Z because they are so connected to their phones. Fifty-nine percent of teens say they use technology to do as many tasks as possible. Teens will not likely engage with digital media if they are not able to easily access content from their phones or mobile devices. As for digital ads, research shows that “funny” and “entertaining” ads keep teens watching. Contrary to other generations, Gen Z doesn’t see all ads as negative and will engage for two minutes or longer with ads they consider appealing. Videos are also likely to attract the attention of this generation. Growing up with social media apps such as Vine and Tic Tok, short, edgy and engaging videos will likely attract the attention of this generation.

Gen Z is most influenced by those who are close to them, especially their friends. Research states that twenty-seven percent of Gen Z first heard about new brands from a family or friend. Gen Z is also likely to do their own research before buying from a particular brand. The Cassandra and Snapchat study revealed that thirty-five percent of Gen Z is likely to visit a company website to learn more about a company they are interested in.  Gen Z takes unethical business practices, false claims and negative environmental impact into great consideration when buying from a company, even more than previous generations. For example, fifty-four percent of this generation would stop using a brand if they were discovered to engage in unethical business practices. User reviews are also taken into consideration when buying from new brands. This means, customer reviews and brand reputation are taken seriously, and a company’s online reputation is now more important than ever.

This provides a great opportunity for marketers to highlight other features of their company besides just products. Vision Critical states that sixty percent of Gen Z want to change the world. This generation wants to align themselves with companies that have a positive impact on the world around them. Bringing awareness to brand’s social activities and environmental responsibilities is a great way to attract and retain Gen Z’s loyalty. The customer loyalty of Gen Z is demonstrated by their buying habits. According to the Cassandra and Snapchat study, Gen Z listed brands like Nike, Adidas and Apple as companies they would buy from for the rest of their lives.

With this emerging generation, the days of traditional radio, print or TV ads are long gone. iFocus can help you capture the attention of this powerful generation in modern and effective ways. Our full-service agency has a range of services from social media management and advertising to targeted display, that will put your best features in front of the eyes of Gen Z. iFocus is committed to developing a plan of action to help you optimize your business marketing strategies and reach your goals. Every plan we put together is completely customized to each client’s individual needs. This budding generation is changing the way digital ads are consumed and iFocus is devoted to staying up to date on their trends and consumer habits to help your business grow. Baby Boomers are phasing out and Gen Z is already impacting the market in remarkable ways. Let iFocus help you stay woke and get the tea on Gen Z to help your business reach your highest potential.

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