The times are changing for businesses and marketers. A new generation called the Generation Z is becoming the new consumer segment in the market. This generation approximately has 2 to 2.5 million individuals. When we consider that these individuals will become the main consumer segment, this number is huge!
Different studies show that this new generation is quite different than the Millennials and any other previous generations. The businesses need to understand the needs, desire, attituded and habits of these individuals to better position themselves in the highly competitive market. But how?
To understand this new generation, we first need to understand how their thoughts and ideas are shaped. Then, we can try to find new strategies based on these new discoveries. So, who is gen Z? What do they need and what do they want from brands and businesses?
Who Belongs to Generation Z?
Although it is not possible to divide different generations with sharp lines, there are certain characteristics that differentiate them. When we talk about the generation Z, we often talk about individuals born between 1997-2012. Actually, we can define these individuals as individuals born between the mid-1990s and early 2010s.
One of the key characteristics of this generation is that they are the first generation grew up with internet. They know and use the internet since their first years on this world. This is why the internet and the online world have a different and special meaning for them. They are often referred as true digital natives or digital nomads. So, the internet and online platforms play an important role in their lives.
Also, they have different perspective when it comes to brands and businesses. In addition to that, the socioeconomic differences shape their decisions just like it did to the previous generations. But compared to previous generations, Gen Z has an entirely different view of the world and what happens in the world.
Generation Z Characteristics
We need to understand the characteristics of generation Z to position our business and brand to meet the needs of these individuals.
1. Generation Z Is Highly Active In Online World
The key characteristic of this generation is their internet usage. Since they are born to this technology, they do most of their activities online. For example, they shop online, play sports and games online (e-sports) or even socialise online (social media). It is not possible to think about this generation without the internet. A study in the UK shows that the 97% of the online activities of the members of this generation is social media. And 95% of the online activities is about watching videos on YouTube. This data shows how important internet and online world are for these individuals.
2. The Age of Influencers
In traditional marketing, brands create printed ads that feature celebrities or other important public figures. But when it comes to generation Z, the marketing practices need to change as well. It is the age of influencers. That is internet celebrities are considered more credible than the brands and brand ambassadors. The consumption habits of the influencers play a huge role in the decision-making process. This is why new practices such as influencer marketing are gaining increasing attention. Using these social media celebrities can be vital to reach the members of this generation.
3. A Brand Is Not Desirable Without A Cause
This idea is becoming more widespread across Gen Z. The individuals in this generation care about the environment, animals and other individuals. They believe that a brand needs to engage with a cause and actively work for this cause. For example, the consumers of this generation care about how a brand takes a stand for social campaigns such as #BLM, #timesup or #metoo campaigns. A brand that does not engage with any social or environmental cause is regarded as a pure capitalist. And this is not desire among the individuals of this generation.
4. Equality for Everyone
This generation does not stand back and accept what has been around us for long years. They want equality for everyone regardless of their race, background, views or sexual orientation. Since they are highly active on social media, they can advocate for their causes to bring equality. They want everyone to have equal opportunities without leaving anyone behind.
5. Research-Driven Purchasing Decisions
Research-driven purchasing decisions can also be listed among the main characteristics of gen Z. Since they have various available tools, they tend to make a detailed product comparison before making a purchasing decision. And this comparison is not alone limited with the product price. They compare technical data, price and whether a brand advocates for a cause. All of these factors play a crucial role in the decision-making process. They take their time to make an in-depth research before making up their mind.
How Do Generation Z See Established Brands and Business?
This generation might be a bit challenging for the established brands and businesses. The expectations of generation Z are quite different than the other generations. They want the brands to be fun, authentic and engaging. Today, the traditional branding practices need to be changed.
Although brands such as Nike, Adidas and Apple are still popular among this generation, even these brands need to a sort of re-branding work. Since this generation is accustomed to “fake news” around them, they believe they can understand when a brand is not authentic. Also, they want smaller and local brands to get a chance in the competitive market.
Consuming cruel-free products as well as locally supplied products are important for these individuals. Luxury is no longer the ultimate target. These individuals want to consume products that fit their worldview and their ideas. Another thing Gen Z considers for consumption is the level of engagement. We are living in a highly connected world. And the members of this generation want to communicate with the brands on various channels.
So, when all of these different characteristics of generation Z is considered, what can brands do to align their objectives? Is it really possible to create strategies to match the needs of this generation. Well, it is. But it might be challenging if the brands stick with their traditional approaches.
Targeting Generation Z
When it comes to this generation, the rules of marketing are entirely different from the traditional practices. You might need to say goodbye to the traditional methods that involve a perfect marketing pitch and a well-designed banner. Now, you will need more creative and innovative methods to target generation Z.
So, what should you do when you are targeting generation Z customers? First and most importantly, you need to use online tools as much as you can. Also, you need to adapt a omnichannel marketing approach to better reach your new and dynamic audience.
Use Social Media
As we have mentioned above, this generation loves spending on social media platforms. For this reason, different social media platforms might be an ideal channel to find these individuals. But a word of caution: you need to understand which social media platforms these individuals use. Gen Z no longer spends time on Facebook (this is for boomers!). Instead, they love sharing stories on Instagram. Or they prefer shouting out their ideas on Twitter. And they spend a lot of time on YouTube watching different videos. So, the social media usage dynamics of this generation will set your tone to reach them.
Video Content Is Better Than Plain Texts
Gen Z loves watching all sorts of videos. They don’t want to waste time on reading boring and long texts. Instead, they love short and long videos which they can watch in almost every setting. Also, attractive images and Instagram posts can be the key to reach this generation.
Engagement Will Increase Your Chances
This generation is keen on participating in the design process and becoming a part of the brand. They love sharing their ideas via social media accounts. Mentions on Twitter are highly popular among these individuals. So, when you create your marketing strategies for generation Z, you need to create a content that encourage them to participate. For example, you can ask their opinion about a certain update. Or you can invite them to comment on your recent Instagram post. All of these actions will drive engagement which is the key element for targeting gen Z.
Find a Cause to Fight for
The members of this generation are participating in the causes whether it is environmental or related to human rights. And brands need to find a way to be involved in social responsibility projects. But you should not do this randomly or without any plan. Your cause needs to align with your brand and business. Otherwise, the individuals in gen Z might feel that your commitment is not genuine. And this will backlash. If you are a clothing company, sustainable production or recycling could be your highlights. If you are an artist, you can use reclaimed material or focus on certain problems around you. All of these will help to target generation Z.