Teenage Gen Zs are forming romantic relationships in a post-apocalyptic world, and they're learning from the mistakes that Millennials have made before them. Much as with social media, Millennials are playing the role of guinea pig. Millennials adopted social media in their formative years, made plenty of mistakes, learned some lessons, and paved the way for Gen Zs who have adopted a wiser approach to crafting their digital personas.
So far, the year's top business story has been the long-awaited Snap Inc. IPO. The company plans to go public next month in a $3 billion offering which could give it a market cap of up to $25 billion. The IPO outlines how the company's signature Snapchat product boasts 158 million daily users, who consume over 10 billion videos each day. Snap Inc. grossed over $400 million in revenue last year and is aiming for $1 billion this year.
The newest insights on Generation Z aren't stemming from this demographic's status as digital natives, the ease with which they leap between apps and platforms, or their lightning-fast swiping talents. It's often overlooked that for all their techno-savviness, this generation - 25% of the U.S. population alone - is also navigating similar economic and global political questions as the ones faced by their great-grandparents. The high value they place on relationships, along with consumer savviness and a willingness to take on hard work are the results of the pressures they face, possibly putting their parents' generation to shame.
It's easy for those of us who remember life before mobile devices and a ubiquitous internet to stereotype teens as rabid, but not particularly mindful, content consumers. We may see them as narcissistic, with their constant selfie-taking and snap sending. What we probably don't see is that their mobile habits and constant usage make them the first generation of "MoJos," or mobile journalists, who will shape the future of reporting.
Last month I shared "The Ultimate 2017 Guide to Marketing to Teens." It offered six pointers for making 2017 a wonderful year. The tips were: tell lies, ignore facts, be offensive, make threats, look backwards and ignore experts. I will confess right now that I must have been under the influence of a powerful psychoactive substance when I wrote this. These tips are exactly NOT how to engage with teens (or anyone else).
Teens today have more entertainment options at their fingertips - literally and figuratively - than any generation of youth before them. It's for exactly this reason that traditional entertainment industries are so worried about how to attract and retain young audiences.
The recently concluded holiday season was a brutal one for brick-and-mortar retailers. Consumer spending didn't materialize the way department-store chains were hoping, and the repercussions have been swift and harsh. Macy's announced it was closing 68 stores and cutting 6,200 jobs, sending its stock down 14% the next day. Kohl's reported disappointing holiday sales and lowered its 2017 outlook, causing its stock to plunge 19%. Sears, meanwhile, announced the closure of 41 Sears stores and 109 Kmarts.
Being digital native impacts everything teens do, from meeting and communicating with friends to learning in and out of school or browsing, shopping and traveling.
Gen Zs will be the first generation with a stream of data tracking them from cradle to grave. From sleep monitors to calorie and location trackers, parents will be able to monitor their child's every move. There are some clear benefits to this: Peace of mind that your child is healthy and developing at a normal pace, and knowing your child is not in the wrong place ... whatever "normal" and "wrong" may be.
The recent election was full of useful lessons for marketers. I'm not talking about boring stuff like social media blah, blah, blah or advanced targeting blah, blah, blah. No, I'm talking about some big meta lessons: that truth and lies are the same, bombast is a great substitute for substance, civility is hokum, accepted standards are overrated. Couple these facts with regulatory agencies that will soon be headed by outsiders hostile to their very existence and 2017 is shaping up to be a banner year for teen marketers. The question is, will you have the guts to make it happen?