Five Tips for Understanding and Marketing to Gen Z

June 4, 2015sparxoo_admin

How well do you really know your X, Y, Z’s? Chances are you know your X’s… Gen X’s, that is. They are getting older—entering the middle-aged demographic, and are quickly becoming old news for many. Want to refresh your memory on Gen X? Check out our article on how to market to Gen X.

Chances are you know your Y’s too. If not, take a look at what makes them unique. Gen Y—the Millennials—who are a large demographic and are the most researched generation in history.

But, move over Y, there’s a new kid in town—Generation Z. Given Gen Z’s relatively new arrival to the consumer market, it’s likely that you may not be as familiar with this demographic and their unique characteristics. As experts in integrated marketing and brand strategy, we’ve compiled some background information on the general makeup of Gen Z, and some tips on how to connect with this up and coming consumer audience.

Who is Gen Z?

To start, let’s step back for a moment and put some stakes in the ground about what we do know about Gen Z. In order to provide a little clarity on this widely unknown demographic, we will turn to the numbers and basic facts. For example, we know that Gen Z is defined as the cohort born between the mid-90s and early ’00s, usually placed around 1995-2012. The segment is about 23 million people.

For more context around these limited numbers, we did an informal research snap poll to find out what the current perception and misconceptions are about Gen Z. One of the most common beliefs about Gen Z is that they are digitally savvy. This belief is a fact. Gen Z grew up fluent in the language of technology. You can expect to see them multitasking across perhaps five or more screens, utilizing technology shortcuts and coding websites. In fact, Gen Z-ers spend 41% of their time outside of school with computers or mobile devices, compared to 22% 10 years ago, according to a Sparks & Honey report.

These life-long experiences with technology also contributes to the need for Gen Z-ers to feel “connected” both online and offline. They are connected to each other and their extended networks through social media and the unlimited amount of information available at their fingertips. This level of connectivity has shaped Gen Z as a globally-minded demographic, eager for opportunities to learn about national and local current events. Gen Z loves experiences and will do what it takes to connect themselves to causes they care about, as they seek ways to make a difference both near and far.

Gen Z-ers themselves are very diverse. The 2000 Census found that just over 31% of Generation Z are from minority racial and ethnic backgrounds, and this percentage is growing. They embody the “minority is the new majority” of the U.S., and are the most likely demographic to have their social circles include people from different ethnic groups, races and religions.

Moreover, Gen Z relishes experiences and wants to be as hands-on as possible in the classroom, job and with their favorite brands. These experiences are all part of their learning style. Combined with their creativity and independence, Gen Z is entrepreneurial. Despite their young age, many Gen Z-ers have already tested out different careers through job placements, volunteer experiences and electives offered through their schools and communities. All of these factors come together to create a sophisticated, informed and savvy generation, more worldly than their years might suggest.

So now that we know more about our Z’s, what does it all mean for brands trying to connect with them? Outlined below is a cheat sheet for your studies on Generation Z and five tips on how to market to and create loyal consumers.

Five Tips for Marketing to Gen Z:

1. Be Hands On: This eager and entrepreneurial group relishes experiences. Let them be involved in the creation process and provide opportunities for them to interact with your brand, often and early, both online and offline.

2. Make it Matter: This is an informed and compassionate group. They want to be involved in causes and feel important. Give them opportunities to “feel good” and they will, in turn, share the love.

3. Provide Facetime: Gen Z has a new way of doing social. They may be digital natives, but they still relish good old fashioned “facetime” as well as Facetime (you know the kind Apple provides). Gen Z suffers from FOMO (fear of missing out) so it is critical that brands offer opportunities for them to feel culturally and socially connected.

4. Make it Easy: Gen Z can also be called iGen. They grew up with Apple products and are comfortable with technology. They want to easily understand what the brand, product and service can do for them. And as tech enthusiasts, they will expect complete ease of navigation and intuitive/responsive design.

5. Offer it on Their Terms: Like most kids, Gen Z wants things “their way.” Their independent nature further supports their desire to customize interactions. Offer Gen Z opportunities to express themselves and they will become natural brand ambassadors for you.

Overall, the overwhelming response to our question “Who is Gen Z?” was answered with more questions, i.e. “Who?” “Gen Y?” “Jay Z?” For many respondents, this was the first they had ever heard of the “Z” cohort. And such confusion makes sense. There is still much unknown about Gen Z because they themselves are still unknown. They are in the midst of forming their own self-identity and going through their transformative years. The age span of this generation is currently wider than its years, pointing more to age based differences than commonalities—they range from toddlers to teens entering college.

What commonalities we do see emerging, however, point to great things. We have no doubt that this generation—despite still learning their characteristics—will no longer just be referred to as the “end of the alphabet,” but will be known for the beginning of something new. Soon enough we have no doubt that Gen Z will earn name recognition for themselves.