It’s the beginning of a new generation and change is now inevitable, and the attention spans are shorter. Nowadays for any business, its more than just selling a product. This new generation of socially forward consumers are even more complex and hypercognitive than ever before and have become a potent influence on people of all ages and incomes.
As digital experts, what do we do when we’re trying to connect with basically an entire generation of digital experts? With an estimated purchasing power of 44 billion annually (Linkedin) it’s important to change our approach and connect better with this young emerging market. Here are 5 real truths you should know about Gen Z.
The Real Generation
If you’re trying to sell something for the sake of making a sale, it’s just wasted effort. Period. Trust me, we see through the manipulation strategies and we recognize the power we hold in changing the broader conversation – your brand will be the cornerstone of cancel culture. With vasts amounts of information at their disposal, Gen Z’ers are more pragmatic and analytical about their choices and are extremely resourceful at getting the information they want and need (we’re talking receipts). The search for the truth is at the root of all Gen Z behavior so it’s imperative to consider trust-building qualities: openness, transparency and authenticity. As digital natives, we’re more than comfortable with cross-referencing and sure to fact-check any source and slight contradictions brands may portray.
We Move On Quick
Growing up in an age of endless choices and direct answers, we have an uncanny ability to filter content. With only about 8 seconds of attention span compared to the 12 second span of millennials, basic interest has become a commodity among marketers. So how can we connect with this digital native generation? Having integrated technology seamlessly into our lives, Gen Z also habitually uses five screens on average – constantly switching from platform to platform, making it difficult to reach this tech-addicted crowd. It’s no secret that brands must make full use of the Internet and be always digitally accessible. In order to counter the constant barrage of stimulus online, brands need to create visually stimulating content that is individually tailored to each platform and their consumer markets. Mobile experiences should also be optimized to minimize any interruptions and to ensure content is delivered fast. We have a need for instant gratification and will quickly look for answers elsewhere! Make sure you brand stay both relevant and relatable by staying on top of social trends and actively engaging with your audience.
We Want a Valuable Experience
You’ve probably noticed the surge of progressive opinions and personal viewpoints circulating from teens online. Having grown up through a recession and the growing discontent directed towards the government and media, businesses are faced with a generation that holds a high value on social and political causes, especially issues that they personally connect with. With a high hero mentality and accessibility to shareable content, their ability to influence and reshape decisions should not be overlooked. Expecting brands to do more than just make and sell products, Gen Z now actively seek experiences that align with their values and social advocations. A study found that 87% of general consumers experience an increase of positive feelings about a brand because of an association with a social cause and that such a connection could spur a purchase (DoSomthing Strategic). Marketers should empower consumers to live their values by investing in their products or services. Gen Z consumers are also eager for more personalized products and are willing the pay a premium for brands that highlight their individuality, therefore it is important to be able to manifest individual identity by portraying consumption as a means of self-expression.
Hyper-Connected Generation: Communaholic
Despite our connection to technology and social media, we’re consistent isolators! Due to a disconnection from society, more people in this age group report feeling lonely then previous generations (Cigna U.S Loneliness Index). We as a generation don’t want to feel marketed to but instead feel like we are made to be a part of something. The immediate availability and ease of information has caused young people to feel the need to be hyper-connected with their peers and they hold the same expectation with brands too. They are radically inclusive and continually flow between communities that loudly promote their causes. By being community-oriented, brands can provide value by creating a space for young consumers to connect with each other and mobilize on similar interest and causes. This will in turn help inspire influential conversations, develop brand advocates and allow your audience to learn more and interact with your brand. This deep craving for meaning and a sense of place offers a huge opportunity for brands to be able to fill that void and turn sales into lasting loyalty.
Growing up through the COVID-19 recession and witnessing economic slow-down and loss of jobs, Gen Z is under no illusions that complete job security exists. We’re a group of pragmatists, self-starters and entrepreneurs who understand the reality of life and seek to take matters into our own hands. Pandemic shocks have only further driven our need to innovate, create and build opportunities for ourselves. So what does this mean for your business? You have a target audience extremely interested in running a business, with nearly half of Gen Zers planning to become entrepreneurs. Humanise your company and let your audience see what they wouldn’t see otherwise – the culture, management, staff and everyday workings of the business. Marketers who tap into this type of content poses a unique opportunity to create a deep level of engagement and authentic interaction with their audience, making them feel a part of a special community. Create that bond by emphasizing entrepreneurial qualities such as positivity, self-empowerment, determination and resilience.
With every new generation comes a new shift in marketing tactics and best practices in order to continue growing as a brand and maintain loyal engagement. Now knowing some truths about Gen Z, this young crowd of highly connected consumers presents a unique challenge businesses and digital marketers. However, with a commitment to adapt and take time to cultivate relationships, community and understand shared values and behaviors, you will be rewarded for taking the time to really get to know them. At the center of it all, Gen Z aren’t that different from the rest of us. It really comes down to all of us wanting the same thing and that’s being able to connect with brands who care about our needs and can bring value to our everyday lives.