Here are some surprising statistics: by 2020, Generation Z will account for 40 percent of all consumers with a direct buying power between 29 and 143 billion.
So how can they be reached? Their attention spans are shorter, and they’re extremely tech savvy, using an average of five screens (compared to three for Millennials). Gimmicks and display ads of the past no longer work.
The key to reaching this generation if they are (or will be) your target audience, is to create content that’s direct, easy-to-digest, and collaborative. Gen Zers want to be brand ambassadors, but they don’t want to be treated like consumers. They crave community and expect engaging mobile experiences.
Generation Z Versus Millennials
To market to Gen Z, you must understand what makes them unique.
Generation Z includes those born in the mid-1990s to the early 2000s. To date, Gen Zers are the only adults to grow up exclusively with technology. Most of them got their first smartphones in middle school. They form friendships online, create communities and express themselves online, and learn about the world through videos (primarily YouTube). They are also driven and focused on social and environmental change.
In contrast, Millennials are a scattered demographic. Some reports mark them as born from 1977-1995, others 1980-2000 or 1982-2004. This twenty year span left Millennials in a gray area. They are known as “digital pioneers” because they grew up right before smartphones and the internet really exploded. They are the most educated generation so far (one-third of them have Bachelor’s degrees) but ended up poorer than their parents. Where Gen Z wants to connect and support brands, Millennials want to be entertained and are more likely to follow brands for coupons or discounts.
Understanding the differences between these two generations, and how one emerged from the other, will help you create content that captures Gen Z’s attention and instills loyalty.
Creating Content That Resonates
If there’s one mantra for creating content for Gen Z it’s this: emphasize what’s in it for them over everything else. Gen Z wants personalized content, preferably through videos and bite-sized stories, from brands that show they care.
Here’s a breakdown of what to consider while creating your content for this hyper-aware generation:
Create Value, Not Sales Pitches
While sorting and filtering the abundance of information flowing through their screens every minute, a Gen Zer has one question on his or her mind: What’s in it for me? They want resources, inspiration, and something valuable. This generation is ambitious and they have the tools (social media) to make their ambitions a reality.
Instead of giving them a pitch to ask for something, provide help and empowerment. Content should focus on what you can offer them and how your services or product enhance their lives or help them achieve a goal.
Axe recently ran a Praise Up campaign to focus on helping guys feel comfortable with themselves and their insecurities by playing on Gen. Z and how traditional gender roles are changing. They encouraged men/teens to encourage each other and to feel comfortable being themselves.
Video, Video, Video
Gen Z is the first true generation of digital natives, so they consume (and create) more content than Millennials. They spend more than two hours a day watching online videos, so YouTube, Twitch and similar platforms are great places to start connecting.
But slapping something together for the sake of having it won’t work. They expect targeted, professional-looking videos that provide experiences they want to share. Optimize videos for phone viewing and make your content engaging through the use of storytelling. Help them learn something new or show how your brand is helping a cause. You can even go behind-the-scenes of your business to show the real people behind what you do.
This Pillsbury Pizza Pops video ad aims to specifically target the emotional side subconsciously of Gen. Z that feels that they have to look perfect all the time on social media. Instead this video aims to help them embrace what makes them “weird” and “unique”.
Here is some documentation on its strategy as well.
Treat Them As Collaborators Not Consumers
Gen Z craves less separation between their lives and the brands they love. Gen Z wants to help shape products. They are more aware of their power as consumers and demand more from brands than just being told what to buy.
Gen Z is why influencers have become so popular. Celebrities are too untouchable, but YouTube personalities and other creators are real people who promote community. They foster a two-way discussion. Since Gen Z are creators themselves, they like to be part of a brand’s dialogue and story. Interactive content like competitions, events, and asking for ideas and feedback are great ways to target this generation.
Dove’s Real Beauty campaign aims to break stereotypes of what typical women’s bodies should look like by creating all different shapes and sizes of their bottles to encompass show women’s bodies are different shapes and sizes as well.
Think Micro Moments
Gen Z has a short attention span, clocking in at about 8 seconds (compared to 12 for Millennials). To get past their filters, content must be engaging and immediately beneficial. If you want them to read your blog post or view your video, you must show why they should care and how you can help.
Focus on bite-sized content that gets to the point. Speak to their aspirations. Give them a story to care about (and the meaning behind it), and they’ll happily give you their full attention.
Design and User Experience Must Be Flawless
If you’ve been putting off a thorough audit of your social media accounts or website, you’re already behind. Gen Z has high expectations for design because larger companies (Apple, Google, etc.) have cleaned up user experience. If a Gen Zer comes to your website and can’t easily navigate, or if it looks like something from the early 2000s, he or she will instantly leave. They have plenty of other content to consume.
You absolutely must be able to provide professional design and a great mobile experience. Think strong visuals with no clutter.
Tech Savvy Future Professionals
Generation Z has set a standard for how brands need to market and how technology will shape lives. Many of Gen Zers want to actually change the world (not just talk about it), and they might actually succeed. To create long-term relationships with Gen Z and tomorrow’s professionals, brands need to inspire, inform, and create products that reflect the world the next generation wants to live in. If a brand fails to do that, it will simply get left behind.