So what is this generation -- chronologically called by the name "Generation Z" -- going to look like? Here are three predictions:
1. Sorry, Kindle, Gen Zers are iPad
The iPad has been the breakthrough device of the year. One could argue that the iPhone 4 or other mobile technologies should take that crown. But the iPad has created an entirely different way of receiving and absorbing information in 2010. Has anyone seen that cool new Popular Mechanics application?
Increasingly, parents are turning to bite-sized devices to entertain and educate their children. The iPad will outpace the iPhone for the chosen "keep the kids entertained device" for Gen Z parents as there is more room for security, limited need for a data plan, and the device will allow parents to hold onto their cell phones versus giving them to the kids to stay occupied. Not to mention the price point of an iPad makes it the perfect, dare I say, in-be"tween" device that's not quite a computer, but not quite not either.
2. They won't take criticism well.
If there's one thing we've learned from Generation Y, it's that they're not to be ... umm ... messed with. One slip of the tongue with a teenager and they're likely to stomp on your foot, leave the room, and start an empire quicker than you can say Facebook. The generation of entitlement is only going to continue to grow, so be prepared to speak to your young-ers the right way.
Sounds weird, doesn't it? Don't ignore it because, from a marketing perspective, it's very important. A group of Gen Zers will be able to sabotage a brand, kill a campaign, and destroy the bottom line of a company with just a few keystrokes on a status update or Twitter. Qualified responses don't matter, perception is reality, and this group is going to have a big opportunity to shift brand perception in an unprecedented way.
3. They will continue to find loopholes.
This is probably the most important prediction as it will affect everything in a marketer's toolbox -- creative, media and loyalty programs included. As information continues to be more accessible, and advertisers look to find a way to reinvent media spaces, such as the 30 second spots, banner placements, etc., Generation Z will continue to find ways to access their information more quickly.
Loyalty programs will become "what have you done for me lately" programs, as the marketplace becomes more competitive, social and referral based. The days of using one brand of toothpaste for years is nearing its end! Creative will need to be more compelling to not just cut through the clutter but to engage this audience in something interactive. Overall, a very interesting game of cat and mouse is about to ensue, and marketers will need to be even more on their toes in choosing the right strategy, creative, and media to engage this audience.
The moral of the story? Engage teens, but prepare for the "über teen." Generation Z is on the rise, and it may just be the most agile, fickle and trickiest to engage generation yet!