Just when you thought you had the Millennials under your belt, there is a new generation knocking at the door. And chances are you know nothing about them.

They’re called Gen Z and I happen to be one of them. These consumers, born 1996 to today, are just reaching purchasing age.  Smart marketers are already trying to figure us out, but only some are succeeding.  Many confuse us with Millennials, but we have our own unique identity.

 

Here’s what you need to know about us:

  • Generation Z is the biggest market segment of all time. We clock in at over two billion people
  • We beat out those Millennials by 3 million
  • We’re still coming of age and already breaking records

Gen Z has grown up in the current environment of ubiquitous mobile communications.  In fact the youngest members may never remember an environment without all our gadgets. Speaking as one, we enjoy learning from peers rather than feeling like we are in an authoritarian environment. We want our ideas to be heard and respected rather than immediately shot down especially, because of our age.

Some of our characteristics are:

  • More racially diverse
  • Less traditional backgrounds (in more than one aspect)
  • Low confidence in the economic system
  • Passionate about entrepreneurialism
  • More likely to pick up our phones than turn on a TV

Being the lead of this generation, I have an interest in helping marketers and brands- still in the dark about what and who Gen Z really is.

In a recent survey conducted to see what really motivates Gen Z, here’s what we found:

We put our trust in social stars, those featured on social media sites, more than mainstream celebs.  These social stars are creating such a fan base with today’s teens they are overpowering the mainstream celebrity. They have become famous based off three things:

  • Their social media profiles
  • Their follower base
  • What they post

Social stars are obsessed with all things social. (hence the name) They have created a sense of community that makes us feel like they’re our real friends. I can write comments on pretty much any star’s posts and expect a reply. In their posts these stars showcase their daily routines, give tips/advice, and offer giveaways to their fans to ultimately keep their loyalty.

It is clear that Millennials and Gen Z alike are amped to follow where the personal, digital connection leads.

What Marketers Need to Know About Gen Z

  1. Embrace the digital world in your marketing. When it comes to Gen Z, video content takes the lead role ( YouTube triumphed over Facebook or Google+  by 60%). Use everything digital to keep us engaged and updated. Gen Z-ers have seen dreams become reality everyday through their timelines. We know there’s power in social media.  We are digitally connected at all times and are interested in reading about new trends. With over 70 percent of the generation owning cellphones take a wild guess as to what our preferred method of communication is… Texting!  Followed closely by social media interaction. Anyone shocked?
  2. Make your message readable across various media channels. We love to bury our heads in technology and lots of it.  Take advantage of blasting your brand across every media outlet.  On average we use three to five screens at a time and you need to keep our attention. I can check my phone (which has at least the basic social media sites up and running at all times), while I’m working on my laptop to complete things for school or work. It is crucial to keep in mind that we browse through tabs quickly.  Your brand should hold our attention and make us want more.
  3. Provide us with the personal connection. The online stars give us insight to their daily lives and help us learn in a less authoritarian way.  We connect with them on a personal level.  We favor them over celebrities and would rather see an everyday person in an ad vs. the overtly paid celeb from… what’s that movie called? We value authenticity like never before.

We are ready to make change happen. I don’t want to hear about your product. I want to hear and see how you are making change and how I can be a part of that. So make me feel like you are empowering me. And don’t try to over sell me.  I have no problem quickly moving on to another source that gives me what I want.

The faster your team works to understand Gen Z as the next class of rising stars, the more enticing you will be to them today and in the future.  There is no better time than now.

#MillennialPrinciple

Teresa McCann is a member of the Millennial Principle team. Her beat is Gen Z consumers

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