I’ve got some news for you – Millennials are so 1996. While they have a lot of influence and power as consumers, we Gen Zers are quickly outnumbering them Millennials have been the target of marketers efforts for years, but as someone entering the consumer market now as the first wave of Gen Z, I see a market being largely underserved.
Gen Zers are still relatively young, with the oldest wave of us just graduating college and entering the workforce in the next few months. Now is the time to start considering what makes Gen Z different from Millennials, and how to shift your focus towards reaching a new generation of shoppers and consumers.
First, let’s knock off the nitty gritty details about what defines this unique generation.
According to Business Insider, Gen Z:
- Born between 1997-2010
- Ages 9-22 (In 2019)
- Bloomberg estimates that this year, Gen Z will make up approximately 32 percent of the world’s population.
All members of Gen Z grew up with access to instant information and some degree of technology throughout our entire lives, so it is important to consider just how technologically savvy we are. Gen Z makes great use of social media as a way to connect with people as well as organizations.
One of the most important things to consider when thinking about Gen Z is our short attention spans. We have access to so much information and content, that we can lose interest extremely quickly. If something does not capture our attention instantly, we have the ability to scroll right past it. Gen Z doesn’t want to read long articles or stories. We want to watch videos and see graphics that allow us to move quickly and learn the most important parts of what you have to say. Some of the most successful organizations and outlets include interactive news sites that offer a wide variety of content. A prime example is BuzzFeed. While they are not known for their breakthrough journalism, they have huge appeal to Gen Z because they have a lot of interactive content, engaging headlines to draw people in and a strong presence across multiple platforms.
Our patterns as consumers are still being determined because our lack of disposable income. However, there are some themes that are easily identifiable and relatively defining for the generation as a whole:
- We are very aware of social issues and try to make a difference.
Social media has allowed us to communicate with more people and understand different stories and experiences. In addition, it has served for a platform for people to go viral with causes they believe. This has prompted us to pay attention to social issues and look for ways in which we can contribute. Whether it is diversity and inclusion, sustainability, or overall social justice, Gen Z is always looking for ways to be a positive contribution to society.
- Our lives are online.
While we do fear security breaches and invasion of privacy on sites like Facebook, we tend to put a lot of trust in the internet. We use social media and the internet quite a bit for our day to day activities. Online platforms and social media are the best ways to reach us and connect with us, as we are not afraid to live our lives online.
- We love feeling individual and unique, even though we may seem to be into the same things and wear the same clothes.
We like feeling like our choices matter and that we are different and unique, despite what that may look like on the outside. We enjoy being different and relatively defiant, so if brands empower those choices, we are instantly drawn to them.
- Our short attention spans make us respond most to graphics and videos.
This phenomenon started with Millennials, but this trend is even more critical now. We consume so much information and data every day, which allows us to be very selective in the type of media we consume. A graphic or video has a better chance of grabbing our attention than a long-form article. This means marketers need to adapt their message to a new format to draw more attention to it and make it easier for it to go viral.
Overall, the patterns and trends of Millennials have influenced Gen Z, but it is time to focus on a new generation of consumers. Gen Z is unique and different, but as they continue to grow, their influence will be undeniable. There is a lot to be learned, but if marketers can begin to understand Gen Z now, they can easily adapt to their needs. Buckle up marketers, because change is coming fast. Gen Z may be quiet now, but give them time, for they will soon come out swinging.
Rebecca Durante is the #GenerationalGuru Team Leader