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Gen Z

Forget Millennials, Marketing to Gen Z Will Be the Real Adventure

Okay, so we’ve read enough about millennials to make us world-class anthropologists. I won’t rehash the details, but I’ll pose a question to you: What do you know about Generation Z?

Yes, in all the hoopla about millennials, people haven’t paid nearly as much attention to Gen Z, those born around 1995 or later. They’re the largest age demographic —making up 25.9% of the population — and as they age they’ll undoubtedly become a powerhouse consumer bloc that brands will want to start courting.

Gen Z is a fascinating demographic, and you’ll need to market to them differently if you want to get through to them. Here are a few things that make them unique (and how that should affect your marketing):

1. They’re fluent across five screens

If you’ve ever seen a millennial kid in their native habitat, you might have been impressed by how deftly they used a computer while watching TV. Two screens at a time — pretty impressive, eh? It’s not bad, but Gen Z takes the prize for multitasking: They move quickly across five screens. Watch a Gen Z teen do homework on her laptop, watch TV, play a game on her iPad, pop over to the desktop to print something, and Snapchat with her friends simultaneously. Whereas many millennials came of age in a time when technology was beginning to explode, many Gen Z kids never knew a world where technology didn’t dominate their lives. Gen Z, clearly, is tech innate.


From Sparks & Honey’s presentation Meet Generation Z: Forget Everything You Learned About Millennials. Chart by Jared Shelly.

What does this mean for marketers? It means it’s becoming highly important to craft an expansive cross-channel strategy spanning all devices.

Long gone are the days when the world’s attention was honed on just a few platforms (TV, newspapers, etc.). Now, there’s an ever-expanding list of ways to receive information. What’s more, Gen Z uses (and intimately understands) most all of the digital platforms out there. You need to reach them where they are — and that means reaching them everywhere.

Gen Z loves Instagram. In our free guide, Instagram influencers dish on the best ways to generate interest and maximize reach.

2. Words? Nah. Use images instead

Thinking back to the advent of texting and instant messaging, millennials fondly remember parents trying (often in vain) to understand what the heck their kids were saying.

It won’t get any easier for parents — kids will always seem to have secret codes among them that only they can decipher. But the lingo these days has evolved to include many more images, symbols, and emojis. In fact, that’s precisely how Gen Z prefers to communicate.

So, if you’re trying to get your message across with a deluge of words, you’re going to lose the attention of your Gen Z audience. It’s just not how they prefer to interact with each other (or brands, for that matter). Gen Z likes “snackable content” — give them what they want.

The New York Times quoted Dan Schawbel of Millennial Branding about Gen Z as follows: “We tell our advertising partners that if they don’t communicate in five words and a big picture, they will not reach this generation.” If your marketing is wordy, it’s time to make a change. Visuals rule and they’ll connect with your audience more effectively than anything else.

3. They’re not brand-loyal

For a while now, the apparent secret to brand success was to connect with your customers, sell great products, and enjoy loyal, repeat customers for life. It’s a good concept and it’s true to some extent — 60% of consumers say they’re largely or always loyal to the brands they buy from now — but that percent age rate might not remain with the blossoming of Gen Z.

As Luxury Daily reports, Gen Z isn’t brand-loyal. Eighty-one percent of them, the publication says, “are willing to switch from their favorite brand if they find a similar product of better price or quality.”

According to a recent Retail Perceptions report, 89% of Gen Z considers themselves price-conscious and 62% would rather spend their money on experiences than material items.

What does this mean? Two things:

  • Your products have to be superb. Everyone likes quality, but Gen Z may be more acutely aware of this than any other generation. With their mastery of technology and the internet (not to mention their hyper-connectedness in the social sphere), they understand that if you don’t have what they want, there are many more choices out there they can spend money on.
  • Sell your products on their own merits and emphasize what makes them worth buying. There’s no question your customers are comparison shopping, so you’ll need to show how your products are superior — and you’ll need to do so every time. Gen Z is frugal, so avoid thinking they’ll spend money with you just because they love your brand.

Yes, marketing to Gen Z will be a lot of work, but remember the payoff is huge because it’s a massive generation that will soon have lots of purchasing power.

4. See them as creative partners

Millennials are amazing at curating and sharing online, having popularized the retweet, reblog and repin. Gen Z are great sharers too, but they’re more likely to see themselves as creators and collaborators online. Just look at the explosion of platforms like Snapchat and Yik Yak, which thrive on user-created content.

yik yak, snapchat, social media, gen z, millennials, carmelo anthony, sponge bob

On the left: Snapchat. On the right: Yik Yak.

As a marketer, then, you’ll want to look at your young audience not as passive consumers of content, but as active participants who want to help craft your message. There’s nobody who knows what resonates with Gen Z more than the generation itself, and they can be the best brand ambassadors you can find.

One campaign that appealed to the Gen Z creator instinct was Beats By Dre’s #ShowYourColor campaign. Users took pictures of themselves with their favorite colors of Beats headphones, then posted the images on social media. The campaign spread like wildfire: According to Mobile Marketer, Beats gained 1.7 million Facebook likes, increased their Instagram following by 76%, and upped its YouTube subscriber base by 57%. More reach means more brand recognition and more ways to sell.

How’s that for results? If you harness their strengths, Gen Z can do that for your brand as well.

One brand that’s killing the game with Gen Z is American Apparel. Download our case study American Apparel Wants Your Selfie, Here’s Why on the brand to learn how they turn fans into social ambassadors.

Curalate powers consumer discovery for the world’s smartest brands — turning pics and videos into portable, actionable content assets. It enables consumers to purchase your products wherever they discover your brand — social, ads, blogs or anywhere else. Get a demo now and learn how we can increase average order value, return on ad spend and unique site visitors.

See how Curalate can help your business grow.

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