Denise is a small town girl with big city ambition. When she's not roping in the strategy on her client's digital campaigns, you can find her in rural Alberta taking in some rodeo.

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Marketing to Gen Z: A Closer Look

In a recent blog, we discussed the next big marketing challenge: marketing to Gen Z. In this blog, we learned what Gen Z is like, how that impacts marketers and where to reach Gen Z.

As this audience is a big topic of discussion for marketers, I wanted to dig a bit more into it and approach the Gen Z topic through a different lens. In this post, I will focus more in-depth on how to market to Gen Z and what this means for marketers.

Generation Z girl looking at her phone

Millennials have been the point of focus for marketers for some time, but now brands need to start taking notice of Gen Z. In 2019, the population born after 2000 will consist of 32% of the 7.7 billion global population, inching ahead of people born before 2000, who will account for a 31.5% share.

By 2020, this group is expected to account for 40% of consumers, which will make them one of the most powerful consumer groups. Their buying power is currently $44 billion, and that amount increases to $600 billion if you consider the influence they have on what their parents purchase.

Currently, 93% of household purchases are influenced by Gen Z, and 9.7% of adults say that their children influence 100% of what they buy (up from the 7.6% seen in 2014).

So, what do brands and marketers need to do to evolve and get this group to take notice?

Find where they are. Gen Z’s were raised technology fluent, so the digital landscape is native to them. Gen Z consumes much of their media on mobile devices, spending on average 5.9 hours but up to 10 hours a day. They consume TV shows, videos, music, games and social media all through smartphone devices. Interestingly, 54% of Gen Z’s say they use multiple devices at one time in order to consume content. But no matter how distracted Gen Z sounds, these individuals are praised for their multitasking abilities.

Keep it short. Brands only have a few seconds to convince Gen Z consumers that their ad, blog post, video, etc. is worth their time. They were born in a time with immediate answers and infinite choices. This consumer group has the shortest attention span to date at 8 seconds, just 4 seconds shorter than Millennials. Having grown up with constant media and technology, Gen Z’s are experts at sifting through messages to filter out excess noise and identify the voices they can trust. Marketers must keep it short and to the point; Gen Z’s don’t have time for the ‘fluff’.

Be visual. Gen Z prefers social media platforms that contain less messaging and are more visual. Snapchat and Instagram are growing in their popularity among this group because they are more visually-oriented than platforms like Facebook which is more text-based. Interestingly, 73% of Gen Z said they preferred brands to contact them about new products through Instagram, with Snapchat following as the preferred method at roughly 50%

Use video. Gen Z’s watch a lot of video content. They are watching twice as many videos as any other demographic to date; on average they are watching 2.9 hours a day of video on mobile devices. As mentioned in Cam’s blog as well as above, Gen Z has a level of skepticism and they want answers immediately. That 8-second window is all brands have to convince Gen Z your product or service is what they are looking for. This group is, in part, the reason behind YouTube’s new six-second pre-roll ads. Before making a purchase, Gen Z’s are two times more likely than Millennials to consult YouTube for reviews or DIY’s.

Be engaging. Gen Z’s want to be entertained and they want to see the experience, but go too far and they will see right through it. Gen Z often turns to social media more for entertainment and a time-killer over staying in touch with friends. Therefore, ad interruptions are often not well tolerated. In fact, 51% of Gen Z use ad-blocking technology compared to 31% in 2017. It is crucial that brands create content that pierces through the noise and gets straight to the point – hopefully, capturing Gen Z’s attention. A great example of this is what Red Bull is doing currently. They produce a lot of content that isn’t directly related to their products, and through this, they are able to capture the viewer’s attention and keep them coming back for more; all while creating and maintaining brand recognition.

Educate them. Unlike previous generations, Gen Z prefers to learn new things via video. A study by Ipsos revealed that 80% of Gen Z feels YouTube has aided in them becoming more knowledgable, and nearly 70% felt they have gained skills that will be beneficial to them in their future. They search for how-to content that showcases new products and skills. They also prefer to research new products by watching video content that highlights people’s experiences on YouTube. This is in part why “unboxing” became so popular.

Be authentic. Brands that show their products in natural settings using real AND relatable people rather than celebrities will be better received by Gen Z. This group is 1.3 times more likely to purchase a product recommended by one of their favourite influencers rather than by a celebrity. Gen Z is aware of the vast quantity of customer data companies have on them, hence the rise in use of anonymous browser modes or multiple accounts on apps. Having said that, they expect highly personalized interactions to capture their attention.

Tailor your messaging. Gen Z’s uses different platforms for different activities. They reflect their aspirational selves on Instagram often using aliases or social media personas. Instagram is the most popular app for brand discovery with 45% of teens using it to find new products. Snapchat is where they are sharing real-life experiences as they are happening, and they are willing to engage with brands using filters on this platform. 

What does this all mean for marketers? As new generations leave and new ones come in, people are undeniably changing. It is imperative that marketers stay on the forefront of where consumer trends are headed. Keeping tabs on Gen Z is important as they soon will be the next largest consumer group as noted above. Let us know your thoughts on this important shift taking place. We love hearing from you.