Keep It Short, Keep It Real, And Turn Up The Music

Just when advertisers felt they’d mastered the Millennial generation, along came a new challenge. Gen Z — people born in the late 1990s and now roughly ages 13 to 17 — is the new holy grail for marketers.

Gen Z members are young, but their impact is already substantial. According to the Pew Research Center, Gen Z is expected to surpass Millennials in both size and influence. Some estimates suggest that Gen Z wields $44 billion in self-directed buying power. The impact is even greater when combined with its influence on parental and household purchases — a combined spending power of $200 billion annually, according to research analysts at Mintel.

Understanding the unique characteristics and behaviors of Gen Z is essential. To do that, it helps to know what makes this generation tick. And, by all accounts, it’s music. The overwhelming majority of Gen Z claims that music is a part of how they define themselves and that they couldn’t go a week without it. 



A new white paper — “Generation Z + Music: New Insights to Understand Who They Are and How They Listen” — offers important clues. The white paper aggregates results from our Gen Z teen survey in March 2016 that helps marketers “crack the code.”

The survey revealed that music dominates Gen Z lives and mobile screen interactions. Data shows 87% listen to music while doing homework; 76% listen while texting; 70% listen while engaging in social media; 55% listen while they eat; and 44% listen while playing video games.

Gen Z teens are the most digitally savvy group ever — this is a generation in which 52% owned a smartphone before they were 13 and 93% own one now. It’s also the most poly-cultural generation in history. Gen Z’s definition of diversity reaches beyond race and ethnicity. Consistent exposure to different backgrounds and lifestyles — whether experienced personally or via social media, television, marketing, etc. — has created a very culturally accepting generation. For Gen Z, same-sex marriage is a right, an African-American president is a fact of life, and transgender celebrities are cultural icons.

As a result, these young consumers are among the most adventurous seekers of digital content and music. The white paper notes that a majority of 16 year olds cycles through seven different music genres in a typical week. Their relationship with music is seen as life-enhancing: 86% say music “makes them more creative” and 81% feel music “boosts their confidence.”

Social media has been part of a Gen Z’s life experience since birth. There are few members of this generation who don’t use Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, and/or Twitter. Their thirst for new experiences and new content makes them a go-to generation to discover popular emerging apps, social sites, games, musicians, and more.

What’s the impact of all this? Key takeaways from the white paper include:

  •  Gen Z members are not only acclimated to, but prefer, brief, bite-sized communications — in fact, they often feel an emoji can convey all that needs to be said.
  •  Gen Z is used to being bombarded with messages — but also keen at deciphering what’s useful and what’s not. Gen Z has a well developed “BS filter” — and uses it regularly.
  • For brands targeting Gen Zs, authenticity is key. Gen Z is looking for brands that “get” them, know where they spend time, and understand what captures their attention. What they consider “annoying, old-fashioned advertising” won’t succeed.

Gen Z is a game-changer for brands and marketers. Messages that get through to this generation will require brevity, relevance, openness, authenticity, and creativity. In other words, advertising will have to be short and sweet — and it won’t hurt to turn up the music.

Next story loading loading..