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Time to embrace Gen Z

Daniel-Gross-Feb17

When I was in high school the talk was all about Generation X – the post baby boomer generation also referred to as the ‘disaffected, the lost and the directionless’. Most of us got our first cell phone at university, a square Nokia or Siemens brick with a monochrome, pixelated screen (and amazing battery time by the way!).

Gen-ZThen Generation Y came along. More sophisticated, tech wise, immune to most traditional marketing and sales pitches as they not only grew up with it all, they’ve seen it all and been exposed to it all since early childhood. The age gap between us and them wasn’t that huge, but the difference in behaviour and interests certainly was.

Every few years marketers are faced with the challenges brought on by the next generation. The buzz word now is of course ‘Gen Y’. More racially and ethnically diverse, more segmented as an audience, less brand, style conscious and super tech savvy. So once again marketers and companies are forced to re-examine their product, their message, the packaging, their strategy and channels. Are they connecting with the right person, and does it resound with them?

According to experts there are 8 key differences between Gen Z and Millennials:

  1. Less focused – Today ‘relevant’ is constantly being refined and Gen Z lives in a world of continuous updates. They processes information faster than other generations thanks to apps like Snapchat and Vine. Thus their attention spans might be significantly lower too.
  2. Better multi-taskers – Though Gen Z can be less focused, they WILL create a document on their school computer, do research on their phone or tablet, while taking notes on a notepad, then finish in front of the TV with a laptop, while face-timing a friend. You get the picture.
  3. Not bargain hunters – Gen Z care less about price than Millennials. This is arguably because Millennials came of age during the recession. Sixty-seven percent of millennials surveyed said that they would go to the website to get a coupon, whereas only 46% of Gen Z polled said they would do the same.
  4. Full of early starters – Many employers are predicting that more teens, between the ages of 16 and 18 will go straight into the workforce, opting out of the traditional route of higher education, and instead finishing school online, if at all.
  5. More entrepreneurial – Generation Z desires more independent work environments (72% of teens say they want to start a business some day).
  6. Higher expectations – Millennials remember playing solitaire, coming home to dial-up internet and using AOL. Generation Z was born into a world overrun with technology. What was taken as amazing and inspiring inventions, are now taken as a given for teens.
  7. Big on individuality – Gen Z’ers were born social. In fact, nearly 92% of Gen Z has a digital footprint. Arguably as a result of the celebrities and media they follow, Gen Z seeks uniqueness in all walks of life primarily through the brands they do business with, future employers, etc.
  8. More global – Millennials were considered the first “global” generation with the development of the internet, but as more of the world comes online, Generation Z will become more global in their thinking, interactions, and relatability. 58% of adults worldwide ages 35+ agree that kids today have more in common with their global peers than they do with adults in their own country.

Conclusions:

Creating advertising that works across generations is tough; getting Gen Z to engage is particularly tricky since they are more likely to skip online videos. They also can’t easily be pigeon-holed, but in most countries they place more value on music and social media. They are a mobile-first generation, but that is not the only way to connect with them.

If Gen Z are part of your target audience, pay particular attention to music and design aesthetics. More important than any content formula for reaching Gen Z is an advertising approach that they can relate to. Ultimately, engaging across all generations is more about reflecting the shared values you want to use to connect with people of all ages.

  • Catch people where they’re watching
  • Catch people in the right mood
  • Encourage people to interact
  • Develop content that resonates with Gen Z
  • Develop content that resonates across generations

Daniel Gross – CEO

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