We’ve all heard about Millennials and how to market to them but what comes next? Well it’s Generation Z, also known as the iGeneration, the Founders, or the Plurals1. Anyway you name them, marketers and advertisers are gearing up to monopolize them. In this article, we will discuss who they are and what they will expect from businesses and brands.
Depending on the source, Gen Z’ers are born between 1993, and anywhere up to 2005 to the present day. They make up roughly 25% of the U.S. Population, making them a larger community than the Baby Boomers or Millennials. As Gen Z members are still largely kids and adolescents, many of their adult characteristics are yet to be vetted. Early indications are that they are increasingly self-aware, self-reliant, innovative, and goal-oriented. They also appear to be more pragmatic than their Millennial predecessors, but we’ll have to wait and see if that plays out as they age2. One major difference they have from their predecessors is that they do not remember a time without social media. As a result, they have a tendency to live their lives online and via their smartphones.
A 2014 study Generation Z Goes to College found that Generation Z students self-identify as being loyal, compassionate, thoughtful, open-minded, responsible, and determined. How they see their Generation Z peers is quite different from their own self-identity. They view their peers as competitive, spontaneous, adventuresome, and curious; all characteristics that they do not see readily in themselves.
The future of brands and businesses will depend on the next generation’s habits, characteristics, and goals; and we need to get ahead of the shift or risk the loss of employees and profits. It may be beneficial for companies to magnify their company culture and highlight their employees’ social responsibility. As in the case with Millennials, connecting their jobs to social impact will be a priority for Gen Zs.
Seemiller and Grace’s study of Generation Z revealed trends and behaviors that are influencing Generation Z’s attitudes about life, education and work3.
Here are some of their critical findings about the newer, next generation:
- They are motivated by making a difference for others and not so much by public recognition.
- They prefer to “do” rather than “lead” when working in groups
- As much as they love their technology, they prefer face-to-face communication.
- They lean left on social issues and center to right on financial issues
- They use social media, but prefer to share on Instagram or Snapchat and follow on Facebook and Twitter. Although, Facebook is considered to be for “older” people.
- To learn something new, they “YouTube it” before they “Google it.”
- They care passionately about issues related to education, employment and racial equality.
These type of consumers stay loyal to the brands they shop, and stick with them throughout their life. In the long term, this is a jackpot for businesses, since they receive long term revenue benefits. They are more accepting of differences and are quick to eliminate those brands that do not foster an inclusive community. They have no expectation to be perfect. Rather than degrading others for their differences, they will be more accepting of natural beauty vs “photoshopped” perfection and won’t be loyal to brands and businesses that adhere to more traditional images. They would rather be unique and real.
Now that we know what makes them tick, how do we advertise and market to them?
To be successful, brands will need to utilize campaigns that embrace differences and remove the branding or logo as the featured image. The goal must be to enhance the personal character of the consumer, not the brand, and allow them to arrange the product or service to create whatever unique image they want to present4.
An example of a brand advertising correctly to the Plurals is Taco Bell. According to an article written by AdAge5, Melissa Friebe, VP-Taco Bell Insights Lab, began asking what it could do for the next generation. “It took some digging, and we found that similar themes are manifesting themselves in different ways.”
“We’re always in beta and trying things out,” said Ms. Friebe. She said that approach resonates with the way young people, who were born into technology, experience things. “[Our consumers] are used to living in this world where people are constantly trying something, seeing if it works and making changes.”
Bottom line is they will be brand loyal. If you reach them now they will stick around for years.