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For the better part of a decade, all of the new marketing advice has been centered on reaching millennials. And while it’s still as important as ever to tap into this lucrative portion of the market, doing so exclusively is to ignore the larger picture.
In 2022 and beyond, Generation Z — the cohort that comes after millennials — will continue to stretch its tentacles into the consumer marketplace and demand to be accounted for. Does your brand know how to reach this young generation?
Who is Gen Z?
Gen Z is the youngest, most ethnically-diverse and largest generation in American history, making up 27% of the U.S. population, according to Business Insider. And by 2026, the Gen Z consumer population in the United States — the people with spending power — will top 82 million.
In other words, Gen Z is a big deal. There are lots of them and they’re poised to have some major spending power. They’re also noisy, engaged and better connected than any generation before (including millennials). They influence more than $600 billion in family spending and thousands of new Gen Z members are entering the workforce every single day. This means spending power is also increasing by the hour.
How does Gen Z compare to millennials?
In terms of business and branding, the marketing department is responsible for helping companies reach this burgeoning group of young consumers. But in order to be successful, you have to know a bit more about what makes this group stand out.
One important distinction that has to be made is the fact that Gen Z is in fact different from the millennial generation. While there’s a lot of overlap, there are numerous factors and elements that set Gen Z apart from millennials (those born between 1981 and 1996). Here are some of the ways Gen Z is unique:
- Raised on mobile technology. Unlike millennials who spent large chunks of their childhood without smartphones, tablets, and mobile devices, most members of Gen Z have a hard time recalling a time when social media and smart technology weren’t parts of their lives. The fact that they’re raised on technology shapes the way they view the world.
- Values frugality more. For the most part, millennials grew up during the prosperity of the 1990s. Then as they were entering the workforce, the economy tanked and the job market collapsed. This has left millions of millennials with low-paying jobs and tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debts.
- More realistic. If millennials are eternally optimistic, Gen Z is realistic to a fault. Even today’s high school students are worried about college affordability, entry-level job pay, healthcare, and other big-picture issues facing the nation. It’s embedded into their DNA.
- Side hustles over employment. Millennials grew up with summer jobs and part-time work in retail and fast food. They worked traditional jobs with rigid corporate structures. Gen Zs are much less likely to work at a young age. And if they do work, they’re typically involved in side hustles. Self-employment and entrepreneurship are alive and well with this young generation.
Marketing tactics that resonate with Gen Z
Gen Z is as unique and complex as they come. It’s a generation that’s defined by complex personality traits, catalytic experiences, and innovative technology. As you shape your marketing strategy to reach this valuable segment of the consumer marketplace, you must do so intentionally. Here are some tactics that will allow you to resonate with these impressionable minds:
Sell experiences over products
Gen Z is the first generation in many decades to be disinterested and unaffected by hard sells and overt tactics. When they see something that’s an obvious advertising campaign, they immediately lose interest. They’re far more interested in the intangible feelings associated with your products and services than the physical item you’re selling. This can be sobering to realize, but it’s true nonetheless.
Partner with influencers
A recent study suggested that $2.38 billion would be spent on Instagram influencers in 2019. That number is up from $1 billion in 2017 and $1.6 billion in 2018. It speaks to the power that influencers have in the marketplace and just how valuable they are to brands that want to compete for Gen Z dollars and loyalty.
Related: Stop Selling to Gen Z
Leverage video over text
Instead of relying on text, shift your focus to the content medium of the present and future: video. This generation watches hours of streaming video content every single week and is much more likely to resonate with the message you’re communicating when it’s delivered in a visual format such as this.
Make it snackable
Gen Z is overwhelmed with information, advertisements and stimuli. If you’re doing what every other brand is doing, you’re just blending in with the crowd. The best approach is to replace traditional content with short-form content that’s bite-sized and “snackable.”
Snackable content includes tweets, Instagram photos, memes and Facebook Stories. In particular, try focusing on snackable video. These short, media-rich content chunks are way more effective.
Don’t forget about email
There’s a common misconception among business leaders and interent marketers that baby boomers and Gen Xers are the only ones using email; however, the data paints a different picture.
Research suggests that 58% of Gen Zs check their email accounts multiple times per day. Another 23% check email at least once per day. Less than 1% of Gen Zs say they “never” check email. But ironically enough, they receive less than 20 emails per day. A hefty 37.4% of them receive only one to five emails per day. This means the competition is significantly lower than it is on other digital platforms.
Marketing is a challenge that requires proactive intentionality. Take your time to develop strategies that resonate with members of Gen Z and motivate them to chase after your products and services. Brand loyalty is rare in today’s business world. If you can acquire it, there’s no limitation on your growth potential.