While most people are still trying to understand what coffee Millennials like, HS is looking at the upcoming generation. The influence of Generation Z will demand big shifts in how organizations interact with their audience.
They may not seem that influential right now, but Generation Z is growing into a large segment of the adult public. Understanding their habits will help organizations decide whether they need to tailor their marketing to them, and how.
And don’t worry, our resident Gen Z-ers fact-checked our findings.
What is Gen Z?
Generation Z is typically defined as the group of people who were born between 1997 and 2012. A key defining factor is how this generation contains “digital natives,” meaning they grew up with widespread access to computers, and for the most part, the internet.
It is perhaps the most diverse generation ever in the US, as nearly half of its population is made up of ethnic minorities.
As seen with other generations, many national and world events, as well as demographic shifts, have influenced Gen Z. While most of the generation’s members do not remember the terrorist attacks of 9/11, they did grow up in a world where US conflict in Afghanistan and Iraq was almost always present.
Perhaps the biggest formational event in their lives was the economic crisis that occurred in 2008. Many families were struck with financial hardship and burdened by the loss of jobs, income and economic opportunities.
Being children at the time, financial stress had a lasting effect on Gen Z and is now influencing their economic and financial habits as adults, much like the Great Depression’s impact on those born in the 1920s.
What are their habits and behaviors?
One of the biggest mistakes people can make is to equate Generation Z to Millennials, and while there is some crossover, Gen Z has plenty of unique characteristics.
The generations before them struggled with money, so now Gen Z takes these experiences to heart by being more frugal with money and looking for value in a purchase decision. As Business Insider points out, they want to purchase something that will give them value, which is why they often use coupons or thrift for items such as clothing or home products.
On the other side of that coin, the generation as a whole will be more likely to support organizations that advocate for social causes. The number one issue among the Gen Z generation is helping combat climate change. Brands can gain favor in the eyes of Gen Z by choosing to offer sustainable products and green initiatives.
However, anyone pursuing this route needs to be focused and intentional with their efforts, so as to avoid greenwashing–which is defined as deceptively marketing an offering as “green,” when it really is not.
What this boils down to is that earning genuine trust is critical for Gen Z marketing. If they suspect or find out an organization is dishonest, they will not only stop supporting the company, but spread their opinions and views to their peers on social media and in-person.
Finally, perhaps the most obvious habit of Gen Z-ers is to use social media and the internet more than any other generation before them. They grew up as the Digital Age started to boom, and advancements in technology were adopted by them relatively easily.
Their internet use has helped propel new apps like TikTok and marketing strategies like influencer marketing into the mainstream. Needless to say, this generation will be crucial to shaping the future of digital marketing.
How do I start marketing to Gen Z?
Before you begin adapting your brand to the preferences of Gen Z (and start scrolling through TikTok looking for the next dancing trend), you need to first find out who your audience is.
Determining your audience can be done through market research and analytical platforms found on your ad accounts and social media profiles. Once you have your ideal audience profile, it is time to find the best way to connect with them and build out your messaging to resonate effectively.
Not every brand is going to need to market to Gen Z right out of the gates–in fact, it wouldn’t be a good idea for a lot of brands. But if you believe your organization is the right fit for this audience, you need to start using the channels they are on and connecting with them in a genuine way.
The need to connect with your audience goes beyond marketing, too. Gen Z is just entering the workplace, and with the change of work habits and preferences due to the pandemic, you will need to make sure you know how to reach the generation as a seller AND as a recruiter.
Where can I go for more information on this?
The oldest Gen Z-ers now are just turning 24 years old, and their share of business for many organizations is still small. However, its growth and influence on marketing will increase in the years to come.
To stay in touch with the generation, visit with family members about social trends, scroll through current social media apps, and check out great books like “Zconomy.”
And, of course, if you want to take a look at whether marketing to Gen Z is the right move for your business, you can contact HS.