When you hear “Generation Z,” what comes to mind? Lazy? Mindless tech drones? Millennial clones? Born between 1995 and 2012, Gen Z is often referred to as the “post internet generation,” and is commonly lumped together with Millennials. Many people tend to see little difference between the two groups, but this couldn’t be further from the truth.
For starters, Millennials were raised during a time of economic expansion, but Gen Zers were raised during the 2009 great recession. This economic hardship has resulted in a strong work ethic for Gen Z, as well as the belief that everything must be earned.
Also, unlike Millennials, and every other generation before them for that matter, Gen Z has had access to internet for their entire lives. This has had a large impact on how they view themselves and the world.
Gen Z has grown up with social media, leading them to focus on setting themselves apart from others and expressing that individuality. Gen Z associates the brands they use very closely with their own personal persona. Because of this, they expect a lot of the brands they choose, including honesty, openness, and respect.
This tech-savvy generation currently captures 48% of the total media audience, and by 2020, they will account for 40% of all consumers. With such a large stake and such high expectations, it is obvious that we must tackle the question “How do we market to Gen Z?”
Let Them Participate
A great way to market to this generation is to let them participate. Gen Z longs to connect with their favorite brands, and they want to be let in behind the scenes. They want to feel like they are a part of something bigger. A global study by Zeno Group revealed that companies should give this proactive generation “a job to do” and allow them to be brand advocates. Companies can allow Gen Z to get in on the fun by promoting user-generated content (UGC).
UGC is media content such as photos and videos, blogs, discussion posts and other content created by consumers to be shared with others, such Starbuck’s holiday red cup design contest. Starbucks encouraged their customers to create drawings on their famous red cups and share them on social media. UGC campaigns like these allow Gen Z to build a sense of community with their peers, making them feel like they are a part of the brand.
Pull Back the Curtain
Live-streaming video content is another way to break down the walls between your company and Gen Z. Instagram Live and Facebook Live allow you to be transparent with consumers, giving them an honest look into your company. Celebrity talk show host Ellen DeGeneres uses Facebook Live to connect to her audience, letting them in behind the scenes and answering their questions live. These real-time video streaming platforms show Gen Z consumers the honest side of your company, letting them in behind the curtain.
It might seem like Gen Z worships stars like Kylie Jenner and Drake, but did you know research shows that 63% of Gen Z actually prefer to see “real people” in ads over celebrities? Gen Z is far more likely to believe content from the average Joe than content from a company. Apples’ “Shot on Iphone” campaign was hugely successful for this very reason. By sharing real user stories in your marketing, you can help your company align its brand with the authentic customer experience that Gen Z craves.
Basically, the message here? Gen Z is a completely different breed, and they should be treated as such. Contrary to the widely accepted persona, Gen Zers are not mindless tech zombies, but rather, just the opposite. Show them your brand and your heart, not just a sales ad, and you will have a grip on what is soon to become the largest group on consumers.