Millennials have been the focus of a lot of attention for marketers in recent years, and rightly so. This group – generally defined as those born between 1981 and 1996 – have for some time been the world’s most populous generation. However, following hot on the heels of millennials is Generation Z. Gen Z comprises anyone born since 1996 – which encompasses today’s youngest adult consumers. This year Gen Z is on course to surpass the millennial generation in size.
Millennials have been the focus of a lot of attention for marketers in recent years, and rightly so. This group – generally defined as those born between 1981 and 1996 – have for some time been the world’s most populous generation.
However, following hot on the heels of millennials is Generation Z. Gen Z comprises anyone born since 1996 – which encompasses today’s youngest adult consumers. This year Gen Z is on course to surpass the millennial generation in size.
More and more members of Gen Z will be reaching adulthood in the coming years, so businesses need to be ready to engage with this demographic to meet their unique demands and expectations.
Understanding Gen Z
Generation Z has “taken the place once held by millennials among marketers” and are “leading the charge towards new forms of brand-consumer relationships,” according to the Global Web Index 2019 Consumer Trends report.
If your business is keen to seize the growing potential of Gen Z in the coming years, it’s important to recognise there are some significant differences between this generation and their predecessors.
According to McKinsey, companies must be attuned to three key concepts for Gen Z:
— Consumption as access rather than possession
— Consumption as an expression of individual identity
— Consumption as a matter of ethical concern
It’s possible that the growing influence of this generation in the coming years could have a transformative impact on how businesses operate, driving trends such as a shift away from mass production and scale in favour of personalisation.
Another defining factor of Gen Z is their status as the first generation of true digital natives. Where many millennials are old enough to remember a time before social media and the internet, for Gen Z, living without these cornerstones of modern society is an alien concept.
This is a vital factor that brands need to bear in mind when seeking to communicate and engage with Gen Z, particularly on digital and social platforms.
Digital engagement with Gen Z
Whether looking to connect with Gen Z, millennials or older generations, social media should be a central component of your marketing mix. Exactly how you use social channels, however, will depend on the particular audience you’re targeting.
As far as Gen Z is concerned, it has been suggested that brands could benefit from moving away from social media strategies that are no longer relevant for the youngest consumers. Examples include sticking too rigidly to regular posting times, focusing on self-promotion and paying for likes or followers, all of which are likely to put off a Gen Z audience.
If you succeed in getting through to this demographic on social media, the benefits could be huge. A Campaign Monitor survey found that one in three respondents (33 per cent) had purchased something as a direct result of seeing it on social media.
Social media platforms also topped the list of preferred methods for Gen Z to engage with brands, with email being a close second. The report stressed that, while social media accounted for a lot of the time Gen Z spends online they also continue to make regular use of email.
Nearly six out of ten respondents (58 per cent), all of whom were between 14 and 26 years old, said they checked their email multiple times a day. Nearly a third (32 per cent) wanted to hear from brands a couple of times a week, while 28 per cent were happy to receive one email a day.
Preparing to succeed
Whatever demographic you are focusing on, and however you choose to engage with them, it’s vital to have a solid understanding of your target market and audience before committing to a big marketing investment. This is particularly important if you want to expand internationally and build up a loyal following of young customers in foreign markets.
For that reason, it can prove highly beneficial to undertake market research and testing. Complementing what you already know about your target audience, these processes can inform key decisions such as where to focus your expansion efforts, based on factors like local search activity and ad space opportunity.
Furthermore, dedicated language services like web content localisation and translation can help you to communicate in a way that resonates with the youngest consumers.
It’s clear that Gen Z, the first generation born into a digital-first, social media-driven consumer environment, presents a unique challenge to brands. If you can find the key to unlock this market, your business will be well-placed to benefit from the growing influence of Gen Z in the years to come.
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