(Editor's note: This article originally appeared in Engage:Millennials on March 27, 2015.)
Parents of Generation Z, the name given to those born after 1995, are entering a new life stage as their children stand on the cusp of adulthood. Today’s parents are particularly hungry for content that relates to their needs, much like they received when they were parents of newborns. However, unlike that previous stage in their lives, they don’t have the luxury of looking to best practices from the past as they navigate for the first time what it means to parent in this digital age.
As Gen Z begins to experience the world in new ways, so do their parents. With every teenager exploring a new social media platform (and their own evolving online identity), you can rest assured that their parents are checking it out as well. Some use the opportunity to “keep tabs” on their child’s digital footprint and hone their stalking skills as they attempt to figure out what their kids are doing behind closed doors. Others see it as a way to connect and relate where Facebook or email just doesn’t resonate.
Marketers, take note. We often think of new social media platforms based on Gen Z as the largest user profile. While Instagram, as one example, has not amassed a wide audience of Boomers and Gen Xers, the platform is quite ripe with parents signing up to become familiar with the online destination consuming the attention of their offspring. There is an opportunity for brands and companies to reach a social media-savvy Gen Z parent by relating to their specific needs and mindset.
A new baby truly only needs food and sleep in the first few months of his or her life. A teenager, on the other hand, requires much more. It seems as if the list of needs grows even faster than the rate of their height, from clothes that fit to face and body care, as well as school supplies and sporting equipment. Not considered splurges, such as new fashion accessories or video games, these necessities often fall under household budget (and do not come out of the Gen Z’s allowance, summer job or savings account).
Brands that focus primarily on a Gen Z consumer but parent purchaser could endear themselves to both demographics by keeping the needs of each in mind. For example, in addition to the option of adding a product to a shopping wish list, offer teenagers the opportunity to send your latest brand news or most recent promotion to their parent for purchase consideration.
You may also consider talking directly with the purchaser, versus end consumer, on this platform where both are engaged. As parents navigate the needs of these new humans suddenly under their roof, they need all the help they can get communicating with them. Offer Gen Z parents conversation starters or tips for decoding their teenager’s jargon. Share a trend or newly popular Vine account with Gen Z parents, allowing them to earn kudos by introducing the latest to their children. If your brand collaborates with an influencer, consider giving parents the opportunity to surprise their teenager with a guest shout out or dedicated post from the influencer for a birthday or celebration. The real gold for marketers lies in uniting Gen Z and their parents creating real conversation for those rare moments offline.