Gen Z, the generation born after the millennials, is rapidly becoming a critical audience for marketers and brands to understand. Even if they aren’t your target at the moment, they will be soon. The Gen Z’ers, loosely defined as those under currently 20, are America’s largest demographic group (25.9% of the population). They are the nation’s first age group to be born into the digital era and already contribute $44 billion to the American economy each year.
According to a report by JWT, “over 70% of parents say their Gen Z children have the power to influence buying decisions about apparel and family meals. In just a few years, nearly 4 in 10 consumers will be from Gen Z, and their purchasing power will rise exponentially over the next 5 to 7 years as they grow to be the single largest group of consumers worldwide.” They are forming their spending habits now which can influence their habits into adulthood.
While many may view this group as simply the next wave of millennials, there are in fact many differences between the two generations. While millennials grew up with desktops, and then tablets, Gen Z grew up with smartphones and other portable, “always on” and connected devices. While millennials prefer text, the Gen Z’ers prefer to communicate with images. They are very technically savvy and expect retailers to be as well. It is important for retail brands to remember that the marketing strategies used for millennials will not necessarily have the same impact on Generation Z.
Digital Savvy and Mobile Friendly
When it comes to paying attention to a brand’s messaging, Gen Z is highly influenced by online video ads and mobile banner ads. According to research by Refuel Agency, half of respondents had taken action after seeing an ad, 29% researched the product, 26% mentioned the product to a friend or family member, and 21% bought the product.
Gen Z also lives with their mobile devices constantly at hand. They socialize, shop, research, play games, and stay connected to the world through mobile devices. Because this generation is constantly multi-tasking on their mobile devices, often having multiple screens open at once, retailers have less than 8 seconds to capture their attention. Remember, this is a generation in which emoticons and emojis are perfectly acceptable ways to communicate so in order to grab the attention of this audience, retailers must follow suit. Content must be interactive, engaging, and delivered with a lot of visuals.
A great example of a retailer who has done this well is jewelry store Claire’s and the Claire’s Project BFF. The campaign encouraged girls to design a best friends necklace through the store’s web app. The girls were then encouraged to share their creations for a chance to have her creation sold at Claire’s stores worldwide. In one month, the Project website received 277,120 page views and Claire’s gained over 28K new Facebook followers and a follower boost of 27% on Instagram.
The Power of Social
Social media is a great way to reach out to Generation Z, but this generation’s social habits are much different than their older peers. Facebook is quickly becoming an outdated social platform for Gen Z, while Instagram is currently the social forum of the moment. Instagram-specific promotional campaigns is a good way to directly reach out to Generation Z. Instagram also now supports videos up to 15 seconds in length, creating a great opportunity for marketers to use promotional video campaigns on the network.
This generation is highly active when it comes to social sharing as well as the creation of social content. According to research firm Wildness, 80% of Generation Z consider creative self-expression important. More than 25% are posting original video content weekly compared to the 26% of adults who have ever posted an online video. Additionally, 80% are on social media daily.
According to an article in the Social Times, “When asked which device they would choose if they could only have one, only 4% chose television. Nine out of 10 survey respondents said they watch YouTube daily, and 70% prefer streaming over broadcast TV or cable. The focus on interactivity extends to the brands and celebrities members of Gen Z choose to follow. 52 percent enjoy connecting with their favorite stars on social, 60% talk to their friends and family about brands, and more than 77% find brand messaging on social networks appealing.”
Appealing to this group at a young age can have a huge impact in a retailer’s long-term customer retention and brand loyalty. Social media and digital advertising will reign in Gen Z marketing strategies – as long as retailers use these mediums in interactive ways to inspire and engage this up-and-coming generation.
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