Born sometime between 1995 and 2009, Generation Z is a demographic understood by very few people. This period largely coincides with the internet being introduced to the world and becoming an important part of our lives – which means that as Generation Zers were taking their first steps, so too was the internet. And as Generation Zers grow older, the internet is by their side, constantly changing and growing smarter.
Understanding Generation Z to improve your marketing strategies
According to Joe Public Shift, Generation Z makes up a market segment of just over 15-million individuals in South Africa – more than half of the total youth in country and over a quarter of the population. To put this into perspective, there are currently more people under the age of 25 in South Africa (Generation Zers and younger) than there are people living in Australia.
Generation Z is set to be the most disruptive generation yet. The world of Generation Z is a combined physical and digital one – a world that is not necessarily “always on”, but one in which the traditional distinction between offline and online is blurred.
With the explosion of information readily available through smartphones every day, there has never been a greater need to fight for attention among competing brands, messages and activities. The constant threat of overloading Generation Zers with information, or spamming them, is important to note when fighting to reach and engage this audience.
An important characteristic of members of Generation Z is that they are used to receiving information instantaneously, and anything they wish to buy or research is only a click away on their smartphones. With such quick and easy access to information and material items, Generation Z has an even shorter attention span than millennials. This means that attracting Generation Z’s attention can be challenging. Powerful imagery, short copy and clear calls to action in marketing strategies are therefore important when targeting Generation Z.
Generation Z is also heavily influenced by social media – nearly all of their decisions are based on what they see on these platforms. Influencers on social media play an important role in the decision-making process, as members of Generation Z trust them to provide them with photos or personal experiences that relate to their own lives.
Importantly, Generation Zers are individuals looking for the freedom to create their own authentic and fluid identities with which they can navigate society. They are used to having everything customised to their needs and wants, including the smallest details. Many brands, both globally and locally, are adopting authentic storytelling techniques in an attempt to refresh their brand identities and attract Generation Zers.
The emergence of Generation Z presents new challenges and opportunities. In a digitally focused society, brands and companies need to adopt and utilise different tools to reach their audiences. How should they do this?
- Curate experiences that bridge the gap between the online and offline experience in order to maximise impact and audience engagement
- Old-school marketing tactics will often fail to attract and keep the attention of a young, multitasking audience. Powerful imagery, short copy and clear calls to action become even more important when telling stories to win the time and attention of your audience
- Generation Z does not want to be labelled or stereotyped, so brands need to be fluid when creating or updating their brand identity and experience for the consumer
- Embrace the idea of a participatory and collaborative culture between the brand, influencers and members of Generation Z. This is a key element for creating meaningful consumer relationships in a society where irrelevance and detachment from a brand could potentially be harmful
Generation Z’s coming of age marks the beginning of an important new relationship between marketers and their audiences. Marketers need to keep in mind who Generation Z is in order to adapt to, and build meaningful relationships with, this generation.