Generation Z has officially entered the workforce.If you've previously dismissed them as too young to focus your marketing efforts on, it’s time to shift your attention. Not only do they have their own money to spend (a reported $44 million) but they also heavily influence the households they live in. You can no longer afford to ignore them.
Who is Gen Z? If you’re thinking they’re just a younger version of Millennials, think again. Aware of the negative stereotypes associated with the older generation, they go out of their way to behave differently. Over sharing and entitled? Not Gen Z; in contrast, they retreat to private messaging, ephemeral networks and are characterized by their entrepreneurial drive. Considering they’re parented by Gen X, it’s hardly surprising. Having grown up in the recession, they watched their parents suffer job loss and, as a result, they’ve inherited a much more mature, financially aware and future focused outlook with realistic expectations. They place great importance on education—the key to their future—and heavily supplement their knowledge with personal learning, relying on technology for answers.
Their attitudes also differ from Millennials.They are products of a modern family—multi-racial, ethnically diverse and not restricted by previous generations’ desire to conform to stereotypes and norms.They came of age with social media, and with this comes the freedom to connect and develop their own beliefs. As a result, they expect open dialogue, transparency and honesty. They don’t break the rules, but instead have a collective conscious, worry about the world around them and want to make it a better place. In stark contrast to their Millennial “slacktivist” siblings, they are far more inclined to actively volunteer and strive to make a difference and an impact.
So, how can brands reach Gen Z? The key will be providing engaging and beneficial experiences that demonstrate their worth.
Remember, Privacy Is Critical
Unlike their follower-amassing siblings, Gen Z doesn't want to connect with everyone. They want to be themselves, preferring to communicate via Snapchat and Instagram direct messages. To get into their circle, brands need to move beyond mainstream, instead embracing niche trends or demonstrating uncompromising standards that relate to their world (think @Honeymaid, This is Wholesome).
Simple And Visual
Skillful curators, Gen Z filters out everything but the essential to make assessing enormous amounts of information more manageable. Even more than Millennials, visual content is the best way to reach them; YouTube is their go-to resource and emoji is their language of choice, providing a faster and more intuitive way of communicating. But don’t think placing emoticons in your tweets is going to bring them in. Be authentic or have an easy link to your brand like @CocaColaemoji website url campaign.
Be A Participation Brand
Experts in brand creation, Gen Z has been carefully cultivating their own brand culture across their profiles for years, understanding how to communicate their values and beliefs to their peers. They expect brands to do the same. Skip the hard sell (their eight-second attention span doesn’t have time for this); instead, ensure your brand offers up a vision they want to be part of, one that unites them.
Entrepreneurial and most likely to take up an apprenticeship or vocational based training, Gen Z flocks to brands that give them the opportunity to build expertise. Wise brands will lay themselves open, teaching them how to run a business and help them obtain relevant experience or knowledge to capture their curious and driven minds. @Tampax active has recently done this with their Alex Morgan series, mentoring girls on gaining the confidence to work hard and achieve their goals. Luckily for CPG brands, these kids care about price so be sure to talk to them about value. Coupons will drive trial and their future-focused attitude will love the three-for-two deals.
So, forget what you learned about Millennials; these young hopefuls are smart and savvy and won’t appreciate being lumped together with their older generation. Instead take your time to get to know them, find your unique common ground and authentically earn their respect.