Who are Gen Zers and what characteristics impact their behavior?
Gen Z is an age-based group that is generally defined as those born between the year 1995 and 2010. This is a generation that everyone in social media marketing should be engaging in 2019 and beyond and this article will show you why and how.
But first let’s make sure we know who Gen Z really are:
Diversity: It is the most diverse generation we have seen so far. Known for being globally oriented, a member of this generation may have more in common with a peer on the other side of the globe than someone from a slightly older generation.
Connected: One unique aspect of this generation is that it is the first one ever not to know life before the internet. No pop star posters on the walls of this generation’s members — they are more into influencers on social media.
Uncertainty: This generation finds itself growing and living in an uncertain world — a post 9/11 world where uncertainty and fear is the norm that influences attitudes and sometimes even policies.
Gen Z grew up during uncertain economic times. Their parents are mostly from Generation X, who had a hard time finding a job and struggled with student loans and losing their homes after the many global economic downfalls we’ve witnessed in the past decade. This might explain why members of Gen Z choose stability and security over anything else.
Entrepreneurs: Many Gen Zers beam with entrepreneurial pride and are skilled entrepreneurs with independent jobs like freelance developers or copywriters for example. This is mainly due to the start-up culture they find themselves in. A regular nine-to-five job does not appeal to most of them with 72 percent wanting to start their own business.
Educated: Gen Z is poised to be “Generation Smart” according to Andrew Josuweit of Forbes who explains that 89% of them are thinking of a college education. They are not only choosing majors from pure interest but are being very pragmatic about it, using sites like Chegg and Niche to preview their choices.
Read Andrew’s full article: 5 Reasons Generation Z Will Be “Generation Smart” About College
Saviors: Gen Zers like to see themselves as world saviors. They despise the destructive manners of past generations. This is truly a generation of activists who want to have an impact on the world they live in — many of them are already showing signs of an active social conscience.
Different: Marketers are often guilty of putting Millennials and Gen Zers in the same basket. Yes, it’s true that these two groups may share the same friend circles and go to the same colleges. However, there are some crucial differences between them. It is therefore vital to have a different approach when creating campaigns for different generations.
Gen Z — Why have a strategy for them now?
According to a Bloomberg analysis of United Nations data, Millennials are about to be overtaken by Gen Zers. In 2019, Gen Zers make up 32 percent of the global population, while Millennials will account for 31.5 percent.
The main reason why you, as a small business, should already have a strategy for Gen Z is that older members of this generation are entering the job market. The United States alone is expecting 61 million Gen Zers to enter the job market.
Even those who are not old enough to get a full-time job already have an impact in the decision making of their parents — they are looking for the best deals online for flights, hotels, a new car, you name it.
Gen Zers spend more time on social media than any other generation before them. While Millenials spend about 8.5 hours a day consuming content online, Gen Zers average 10.6 hours a day doing the same. This is based on research by Adobe into the UK’s content consumption habits.
Generation Z versus Millennials — social media preferences
According to a summary report by GlobalWebIndex, you need to pay close attention to the defining attributes and behaviors that Gen Z have shown on social media, and online as a whole. One dominating aspect that really stands out is their responsiveness to influencers and influencer marketing.
YouTube: Their favorite social media platform has to be YouTube (yes, YouTube is a social media platform). It is a fact that 95% of Gen Zers use the YouTube site each month, most of the time looking at entertainment content.
Fun: Where millennials use social media to update their statuses and catch up with friends and family, Gen Zers use social media to scour videos and articles that help them pass the time. This is an attribute that creates an opportunity for brands to use influencer marketing — GlobalWebIndex’s research has shown that Gen Z is the most receptive generation to this.
Fewer: Gen Zers use fewer social media platforms than Millennials but spend more time on them than Millennials — about 3 hours compared to 2.5 hours. They are quite choosy about the platforms they want to share their content on and are more cautious with what they share and with whom they share it with. They prefer private accounts on Instagram, sharing their private photos to a closed group or with vanishing messages on SnapChat.
How Your Small Business Should Engage Generation Z
Use influencer marketing
Staying with the GlobalWebIndex summary report, we see that over 40% of Gen Zers say they’re easily influenced by other people’s opinions. Where do they get opinions from? Look no further than the vlogs they consume daily.
But that’s not even the best part. According to research, 85% of Gen Z hear about new trends, brands, and products on social media, with celebrity vloggers as the primary source. As long as they believe that the vlogger is honest with the review of a product or brand — which is the case if it’s a vlogger they follow — they will consider what they say to be the objective truth and may end up buying the product.
Action: Look for the influencers that your Gen Z target group is engaging with or is more likely to engage with, and then ask them to review your product. For the bigger, more established influencers (100k+ followers), you may need to go through their agents or pay for reviews. Or you could try micro-influencers (1k+ followers), which you can find on sites like Webfluential and Izea.
We have established that Gen Zers are mainly looking to be entertained on social media. We also said that YouTube is where they consume most of their content. So video content is definitely the way to go. But they do not appreciate brand interruptions or even tolerate them, so such a strategy may have negative repercussions. Tread carefully!
Whereas with Millennials, their favorite accounts to follow on social media are brands they like, Gen Zers prefer to follow actors or influencers over their favorite brand.
Action: Create remarkable content they will enjoy watching and want to share with their peers. Instead of creating content around your product, create original, entertaining content that captures your Gen Z audience’s attention.
Give them an offer they can’t refuse
Gen Zers are very conservative with their spending as a result of having seen their parents struggle financially and their older siblings in student loan debt. According to Tim Elmore, 57% of Gen Z prefer to save their money rather than spend it.
Meanwhile, 89% of them consider themselves to be price-conscious shoppers. They are price savvy and during the buying process, online word-of-mouth and friends’ opinions have a bigger impact than ads do.
Action: When you have them at the end of the buyer cycle, make sure you have an offer that makes them feel they are getting the best price possible.
Match your brand with their personal branding
Most Gen Zers associate themselves with brands that have carefully created a sincere and honest image for themselves. They expect brands to be responsible, transparent, and respectful — something that is part of their own personal brand online. Gen Zers consider interaction with brands very important.
They engage with campaigns that reflect reality rather than an illusion. A brand’s campaign is a winner if it reflects one or all of the following — humor, independence, and a spirit of inventiveness. Brands that do not adhere to this are easily replaced.
Action: Take a look at the brands they follow and the messages the brands put out to them. Brainstorm new campaign ideas based on your findings. Also, given the fact that word of mouth is a big deal maker or breaker, make sure you have a tight online reputation management strategy.
Get straight to the point
Gen Zers were born with mobile devices in their hands. This means they have become accustomed to being bombarded with information and have become extremely quick in scanning information to decide if it is something that offers them any value. The average time they need to do so is eight seconds.
We now know that video is Gen Zers most appealing form of content to consume. But the shorter the video the better. We are talking six seconds, especially when it is the initial contact at the very start of the buyer cycle.
Action: Get straight to the point with your campaign messages.
This was a look into the Gen Z wave that is expected to overtake Millennials as early as 2020. A generation that is truly digital native, self-aware instead of self-centered and gives you no more than 8 seconds to make your case.
Remember to engage them on their own terms as they are very quick in switching brands to one that reflects their own personal brand. Be authentic and run campaigns that reflect reality and make sure you have a proper online reputation plan.
Are you ready to take on Gen Z after reading this article? Is there something holding you back?
With over a decade worth of experience working with small businesses on different aspects of digital marketing, I have come to realize that content should be at the heart of every small business marketing strategy.
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