Much focus has been placed on how to market to millennials. Yet Brett Relander (2014) of Entrepreneur believes there is another group that organisations should be focusing on. That group is Generation Z, and in the USA alone is considered to be the largest percentage of the population. This generation, born after 1995, is the one that grew up with social media, so one could say they are the social native generation. Even though they are not yet 21, they already have a considerable influence over spending power. Understanding where and how to target this group will be essential for businesses as this demographic starts to move into adulthood and have greater disposable income. Being aware of what this group wants and how to give it to them is arguably essential to longer term business success.
With regard to who Generation Z is, there are some statistics that can help us defining its most important characteristics. In 52% of cases Generation Z uses either YouTube or social media in order to carry out research. This means that this generation is extremely adept at getting the information that they need. Many are also thought to be highly entrepreneurial. They are social aware as well, so their entrepreneurial skills will probably manifest in social entreprises. They want to turn their hobbies into full time jobs in 75% of cases according to Relander. He points out that Generation Z differs from earlier generations in key ways. For example, as Relander states:
“…Not all social media platforms are the same… Generation Z tends to favour Whisper, Snapchat and Secret as opposed to Facebook,”
This clearly means that where organisations market has to differ from models used for previous generations to be able to reach this group. Relander recommends that organisations take a strategy of opt-in invitations into text marketing programmes to be able to target this group, given that their favourite method of communication is text. It is argued by Relander that creating mobile video content and then sending out links and providing “share” options for content is another great way to attract the attention of this group. Making sure to focus on Instagram as well as the other platforms already mentioned is a recommendation put forward by Relander as well.Generation-Z-Infographic Image source: mccrindle
Writing for Social Media Today, Tim McMullen (2014) agrees with marketing to this group on Snapchat, Instagram and YouTube but also proposes Vine as another platform to focus on. As McMullen points out:
“To Gen Z, social media IS the internet. They fully expect your brand to be available at every touch point of their ‘internet’ experience.”
However, McMullen has other suggestions as well for targeting this particular group. One is finding ambassadors that will appeal to them. Focusing on paid influencers that are able to target this group and know how to speak to them is thought to have a very significant influence on their purchasing decisions. Meanwhile, McMullen also promotes the strategy of making Gen Z customers “the star”. McMullen’s analysis suggests that Gen Z like to be recognised and to get social media fame. This means that “sharing their pictures with your fans can go a long way to engage with them”. This makes them really sit up and pay attention.
Interestingly, McMullen argues that Generation Z are different because they have grown up with a different backdrop in their lives than other recent generations. This includes world recession, climate change and of course, the ever present threat of terrorism. This means that this generation is considered to be more socially responsible than others before it, and they are also careful with their money. All of this leads to Gen Z being more motivated by competitions that have prizes of unique life experiences rather than cash, in McMullen’s eyes. He also argues that customised experiences will appeal to them. They like to participate and customise and get involved. This is alleged by McMullen to make this group more likely to become genuine brand ambassadors.
McMullen argues that it must be remembered that Generation Z are “digital natives” that have never known a time without laptops or smartphones. They are able to see through inauthenticity. This means that it is even more important with this group to be completely authentic, because as McMullen points out, they are “brand agnostic”. This means attracting their attention can be quite hard. However, focusing on the tips relayed above will surely help tweak the interest of the emerging market of Generation Z.
Paula Newton is a business writer, editor and management consultant with extensive experience writing and consulting for both start-ups and long established companies. She has ten years management and leadership experience gained at BSkyB in London and Viva Travel Guides in Quito, Ecuador, giving her a depth of insight into innovation in international business. With an MBA from the University of Hull and many years of experience running her own business consultancy, Paula’s background allows her to connect with a diverse range of clients, including cutting edge technology and web-based start-ups but also multinationals in need of assistance. Paula has played a defining role in shaping organizational strategy for a wide range of different organizations, including for-profit, NGOs and charities. Paula has also served on the Board of Directors for the South American Explorers Club in Quito, Ecuador.