Gen Z: If you don’t know, get to know.

Gen Z. The generation of consumers born in the mid-1990s is coming of age, and marketers need to pay close attention. Unlike earlier generations, Millennials included, Gen Zers can be difficult to engage using traditional advertising channels, including standard online display ads. To appeal to these key consumers fully, brands first need to understand them better, since they will make up 40% of all customers by 2020.

Generation Z are ethically driven in regard to most of the choices they make. They want and are used to receiving information quickly and visually, hence their appeal to Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube. They want information they can trust and will fully eliminate brands from their life if they don’t align with their morals. Health and wellbeing of themselves and the planet is very important to Gen Z and their consumer behaviour is reflective of this.

Gen Z shopping in independent clothing store, Google 2019.

So, what does Gen Z care about?

  • 72% of Gen Zers point to managing stress & mental health as their most important health and wellness concern.
  • 68% believe in maintaining a balanced diet.
  • 61% stress the importance of exercise.
  • Gen Z cares about travel and experience, luxury isn’t a priority, it’s cool to do things cost-efficiently and ethically.
  • 93% of Gen Zers will try a restaurant that offers discounts.
  • Gen Z accept influencer endorsements, and prefer them over celebrities, so long as they are transparent in what they are selling.
  • Non-gender-specific/stereotypical clothing, branding. They don’t want to be told what to wear.

What does this mean for marketers?

  • Gen Z are ‘diginative’ – this means they will respond better to digital messaging over any other media.
  • They won’t pay for apps – unless it’s an actual everyday service (e.g. Spotify) they won’t pay for it.
  • They are slowly forgetting about TV and paperback books – These products/methods of advertising will not reach them.
  • Don’t care about data privacy as much as previous generations.
  • Mobile-first (if not only) when it comes to shopping – Hit them through the phone to utilise your marketing spend.
  • Gen Z is less trusting than Millenials – gimmicks, guilt trips and fancy terminology is not going to cut it for these kids. Truth or nothing.

Now some will be reading this and thinking, ‘Oh, so like an even more digital addicted millennial?’ That is where you’d be wrong. Millennials and Generation Z are not to be confused. Remember, some millennials were children in the 80’s, something Gen Z will know nothing about apart from maybe the odd Whitney Houston song. Millennials care far more about customer experience and are willing to pay more, whereas Gen Z prioritise innovation from companies. 

Today’s teens also tend to be more highly interested in saving money than millennials were at that age. Gen Z is attracted to purchases that maximize the value of every pound, whereas millennials are more interested in the entire experience of buying a product. Gen Z’s interest in conservative spending is a direct result of growing up in a time of economic turmoil — and conspicuous consumption isn’t attractive to them. They’re wary and mindful of their money running out. When marketing to them, stressing high-quality investments and offering plentiful deals and bonuses is a smart strategy.

When millennials were in school, brand names were the thing to wear. Wearing t-shirts, jeans, and shoes with the coolest brands was how they showed their fashion sense. Now that they’re adults, millennials may be willing to pay more for their preferred brands. Gen Z, on the other hand, doesn’t want to be defined by any brand other than their own. They want to celebrate their own independence, and they use social media to find communities where they feel they belong.

So the best marketing approach for Gen Z is to celebrate the individual, telling customers they can be whatever and whoever they want, not trying to prescribe a specific or too-narrow image.

Wayne Tippetts, Gen Z Covent Garden, London Street style, London, UK.

Finally, an important thing to remember with Gen Z is the importance of authenticity. Yes, millennials liked it, but it is imperative to Gen Zers. This doesn’t just mean brand values either, it’s products and the way they’re presented. For example, Depop, an online second-hand shop mainly selling pre-owned clothing, finds that darker, lower-quality imagery works best for Gen Z. Showing real customers’ life photos instead of photoshoots has brought the most success. 

This applies also for influencer posts partnerships. Keep it authentic. 63% of Gen Z customers prefer to see ‘real people’ in ads whereas only 37% of millennials feel the same. As a result, ‘Insta-famous’ accounts are goldmines for brands. 

The bottom line? Don’t get Millenials mixed up with Gen Zers. Get to know them, learn what makes them tick and speak to them as humans rather than customers.

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