Marketing To Generation Z (From A Millennial)

Let’s compare Gen Z to the Millennial generation. On the face of it, there appears to be little difference, however there are monumental differences when it comes to the way in which these two generations think and therefore interact with brands, products and services.

I am a Millennial. The first breed of generation to grow up in a constantly connected world and as the Pew Research Centre labelled: “Digital natives in a land of digital immigrants”.

I can remember the first dial-up internet. Not being able to use the landline phone whilst browsing pages which seemed to take a lifetime to load. Day by day, spending more and more time exploring this new unknown void that was the World Wide Web.

Then came the Nokia 3310, the most cutting edge mobile technology that didn’t need an aerial attached. Not to mention their indestructibility and the fact they went a week without having to charge the damn thing.

This was also the generation that was first introduced to a social network. Bebo and MySpace were the first big hitting social media sites, introducing the concept of creating online profiles which would somewhat have a personality of their own. The digital era was well and truly underway.

So what’s the difference between Gen Z and Millennials?

Whilst the first Millennials went through most of their childhood without social media, Generation Z was born into it. Another significant difference is Gen Z’s multi-faced approach to social media. They use Twitter to keep up to date on current affairs, Instagram to showcase their ‘aspirational self’ and Snapchat to share real-life moments (and to send funny filtered pictures and videos to friends and family).

Facebook? Well, that’s now labelled as an ‘old people’ social platform with only 15% of Gen Z’s using Facebook as their most frequent social media channel.

So I just need to post stuff on social media to engage Gen Z’s?

Yes… and no. Gen Z are interested in brand values which makes it vitally important to be clear about what your brand / company stands for.

Gen X and Millennials are more likely to stop for a moment to read longer posts (yes, I understand the irony of the length of this blog), whilst a company or brand will only have seconds to capture Gen Z’s limited attention.

Strong brand messages combined with social responsibility are particularly effective at attracting this generation. Remember, Gen Z care less about brand image and more about brand message. Whilst I was part of an era of wearing Jack Wills shirts & Abercrombie / Hollister t-shirts; not caring about where they were made, only concerned about the ‘coolness’ of the brand.

Advertising to Millennials in my opinion has been mainly about content creation, which contain subliminal messages in creative ad structures that speak to that audience on a personal level. Let’s face it, if we see an ad that pulls at the heart strings of a Millennial, ‘we’ are more likely to pay attention.

Ads have become so targeted now, offering the ability to focus on all sorts of individual demographics and interests, thus increasing their ability to relate to the consumer.

Gen Z are more engaged with video content and influencer marketing. The way the newer generations engage with products and services is changing at a rate never seen before.

The below graph tells the story of how companies are having to adapt to reach this new generation. Is there any wonder we see a continued rise in digital marketing spend considering Gen Z now interact with up to 5 screens per day in comparison to 3 screens that Millennials use? Even more importantly, it’s essential for brands to instantly connect as the average attention span of a Gen Z is only 8 seconds, compared 12 seconds for a Millennial being.

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By 2020, Gen Z is expected to account for around 40% of all customers.

All business processes, marketing included, have to adapt to suit the new breed of consumer. It’s not enough to place your company in front of this generation on digital platforms and expect them to engage. It’s like placing an ad in a national newspaper and just hoping it sticks.

85% of Gen Zers use YouTube daily, which illustrates the value of video. Creating video content that sends a message about what social responsibilities your business undertakes, is a fine way to create a sense of community and brand trust that many Gen Zers now consider to be more important than just a ‘cool’ product.

“It’s not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.”

– Charles Darwin