The more than 81 million 12- to 22-year-olds who make up Generation Z are by far, the most tech-savvy generation - at least until we define their successors.
Cultural moments can define generations as young people champion causes that come to a head during their formative years. For Boomers, one such movement was the push toward civil rights and racial equality; for Millennials, it was LBGT rights, and for Gen Zs (who are currently aged 20 and younger), it may well be gender equality.
Just as marketers have mastered Millennials, along comes Gen Z. This cohort ranges up to age 20, a life stage when marketers dream of connecting before brand habits harden.
If you're launching a new product aimed at young consumers, "evolutionary" isn't good enough. Your new product has to be so groundbreaking, so shocking and so unexpected that it breaks the Internet. With today's teens and young adults more distracted than ever and likely to tune out paid ads, your product has to be something that they hear about repeatedly across earned media - something that their friends buzz about, and influencers make jokes and spread memes about.
We in the marketing world commonly refer to teens as "digital natives," the generation that has never known life without the internet. And I'm not talking access like we had in the early dot-com days, which, like running water, required you seek it out and perform some sort of action to turn it on. For Gen Z, it's more akin to the very air they breathe, available everywhere and essential to their functioning.
Most thinking people agree that false information and hate speech are bad things that should be avoided and discouraged. This leads me to wonder how people who disagree with this perspective view the issue. How could someone argue that fake news and hate speech are NOT problems? To understand that thought process, let's look at some recent attempts to engage teens to deal with the fake news problem.
One important factor to keep in mind for both: Gen Z and Baby Boomers are children of a recession. For that reason, we get a real sense of just how pragmatic these generations are and how careful they are with their money.
There's no room for error in digital advertising. That's particularly true when engaging Gen Z. This tech-savvy group of youngsters certainly value "all things digital" - except being served digital ads. In fact, 69% of Gen Zers admit to physically avoiding digital ads. That's not good news.
Teens' entertainment diet is eclectic, particularly compared to other generations when they were teens. Teenage Xers didn't have social media vying for their attention; they just wanted their MTV. As teenagers, Millennials were just being introduced to the concept of DVR and media on-demand, and only the youngest portion of that generation experienced any form of social media during their teen years.
It's so 2008 to use words alone to talk to teens. Today, teens are increasingly communicating with emoji (small digital icons used to express an idea or emotion, such as a smiley face expressing happiness) and memes (pronounced "meems," humorous images, videos or pieces of text that are copied and spread rapidly by Internet users).