The Z Gen: How They’re Changing Your Game Plan

The Company
23 May 2019

It’s a rare thing nowadays to meet someone who doesn’t have a social media presence, let alone a smartphone. A new generation is on the rise and they have grown up in a world of screens. They are the adolescents of today and the very reason your marketing strategy has to evolve yet again. Comprehending the subtext of values that are demarcated by the age groups will have you creating more individualized content to suit the needs of the newest kids on the block – Gen Z. With the aid of percentages that will put the intangible into perspective, let’s get engaged:

iGeneration: Internet is Life

Four generations comprise the majority of today’s workforce: Baby Boomers (1946-1964), Gen X (1966-1976) and the Millennials (1977-1994) with a steady increase of Gen Z (1995-2012). Accounting for a whopping (Nielsen Ratings) 26% of the world’s population (Baby Boomers – 24%, Generation X – 20%, Millennials – 22%), Gen Z – the first true digital natives are a demographic you simply cannot side-line. These are the kids that had smartphones while they were still in elementary school and are fluent in techspeak: 92% are online every day and 24% say they are online “almost constantly”, (Pew Research Center).

Takeaway: A strong online presence across targeted platforms is a necessity as the smartphone is a modern-day safety blanket of our society that is checked on at least 58 times a day (RescueTime). If you’re not online, you have zero to no chance of interacting with the tech-savvy generation.

iEntertain: Retaining the Goldfish Attention

Existing in an era with constant stimuli has taken its toll – just look at the increasingly short attention spans of the centennials. International Business Times has concluded that the Gen Z group uses on average five screens: smartphones, T.V., laptops, desktops and tablets, hopscotching between them for a multitude of purposes, which is more than the Millennial’s three screens. The former gauges whether something (images, clips, videos, articles) is worthy of their attention with an ‘eight-second filter’ (Fast Company) – quickly determining their decision to engage with it. It is crucial to note that there’s an antipathy for longform content and ads that cannot be skipped (Vision Critical: 69% of Generation Z think ads are disruptive) or constant pop-ups. Gen Z prefers ‘snackable’ content – brevity and creativity are key. Ipso facto, it’s no surprise that Instagram is their go-to app for brand discovery (45%); YouTube is the platform of choice when it comes to shopping recommendations (24%). As far as opinions go, Gen Z place a lot of emphasis on the ones they receive on their social media platforms: 70% of teenage YouTube subscribers relate to YouTube creators more than traditional celebrities (Oberlo).

Takeaway: Be concise and be entertaining, especially on video-based avenues – appeal to them by being aesthetically pleasing (think Instagram-worthy) and funny (think popular culture: memes).

iCare: Do You See What I See

Vision Critical notes that as Gen Zers enter the workforce, their spending power, valued at USD$44 billion is only growing and that’s not even considering the USD$600 billion their parents could be spending under their influence. The identity of a brand, the quality and value of a product, the communities’ opinion and an ever-convenient accessibility are the usual suspects when it comes to purchasing decisions. We live in a world increasingly driven by price, not value. “Cash is king.” – is an expression that does not bode well with this generation. Both socially and environmentally conscious – more so than any other generation, a good 55% of Gen Z choose brands that are a representation of their core values, their expectations of themselves and peers (Oberlo). Corporate social responsibility (CSR) as an integrated ethos is the reason why companies like Ben&Jerry’s and The Body Shop continue to receive patronage from the zillenials: from grants(Ben&Jerry’s core mission is to provide five grants annually) to fundraisers and volunteering, they sustain and enrich society by giving back plus campaigning for rights(The Body Shop is against animal testing.)

Takeaway: Gen Z cares about the world and the impact they leave on it. They are highly influenced by their peers and the people they connect with on social media. If you walk the talk of your brand’s advertised values, you’ll have Gen Z championing your logo.

iNow: Living in the moment, ‘phygitally’

Common Sense Media reported that on average, Gen Z spend between six and nine hours per day consuming media. Commissioned by WP Engine, a global study was conducted by The Center for Generational Kinetics, found that 66% of this tech-savvy cohort spend their time online looking for entertainment; 50% wanted to connect and almost 33% sought information. It’s a highly digitized world and being conditioned to stream through so many sources of information at once has led to an emotional dissonance.

When it comes to customer engagement, curating a journey where their senses are evoked, and they can be an active participant would be the link to connecting with the 50% of socially isolated Gen Z-ers (Cigna). That means coming up with games, roadshows and events are among the interactive experiences that are able to combat this detachment as they leave little room for external distractions.

Takeaway: Communicate in a personal and relatable way.

There’s still much to learn about this upcoming group, but ongoing attributions aim to streamline their consumer habits as they gradually overtake the workforce and their purchasing power continues to dominate.

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