As a millennial, I’m used to hearing that term to describe a lot of things. The term itself is widely-used, and I see both negative and positive connotations daily. For instance, the following are just a few of the headlines published in the last couple of weeks:
Why Employers Need to Empathize with 'Entitled' Millennials- Fortune
Martha Stewart Still Confused About What Millennials Are Exactly - Vanity Fair
Six Things Millennials Need To Perform At Their Best - Forbes
Millennials will work forever–but they may be happier for it - QZ
Why millennials with tons of loans won't refinance - Chicago Tribune
Are millennials a cybersecurity risk at work? - Benefits Pro
How to use the Snapchat app all the millennials are talking about... - Cleveland.com
Everywhere you look you see we’re entitled, we’re courageous, we spend money, we seek change. One thing for sure is that everyone wants to know what makes millennials tick, and how to pique our interest. But maybe the most important piece of info that marketers need to know: We’re growing up.
Recently I met with a company who when prompted, mentioned their intended target audience was millennials, specifically 18-year-olds. That’s great, I thought, but those aren’t millennials.
The next generation is here and they’re more powerful than we millennials ever thought about being. Their name is Generation Z. Known as Centennials or iGen, Gen Z is the latest group of rising adults, and a powerful audience that requires a shift in marketing focus to reach.
Who is Gen Z?
This rising generation of adults was born anywhere from 1996 to the present. Why 1996? According to The Center for Generational Kinetics:
“The last, most important defining moment for Millennials was September 11, 2001. Those born from 1996 onward do not remember September 11, 2001. If you don’t remember 9/11, then you are NOT a Millennial, but a member of the generation after Millennials: iGen or Gen Z.”
Within the next five years, iGen will be the fastest growing generation in the workplace and marketplace. That means as marketers, we need to be prepared to adjust market expectations, and our marketing pitch to reach this new generation, who is quickly gaining spending power.
While members of Generation Z are largely still kids and adolescents, the older end of that spectrum are already movers and shakers in our space, and 20-year-olds are proving to be more tenacious and more inspired than ever before.
Studies show that Gen Z is self-aware and conscientious of their environment, choosing eco-conscious products over value, and willing to do the work it takes to bring innovative ideas to life. They are fiscally conservative and have grown up in a world where they’ve seen devastating effects from overspending and overconsumption.
They are slated to be one of the most highly educated generations, as it’s likely that more Gen Z will attend and graduate from college than any other generation. They are also possibly the most inspired generation, looking for jobs and career choices that have a positive impact to the greater good.
Does Gen Z impact the digital space?
Yes! They are a generation who has never grown up without a smartphone in their hands (thus the name iGen) and think of technology not as a convenience, but simply a way of life. Gen Z didn’t grow up with encyclopedia volumes on their family bookshelf, but instead associate Google with their lifeline to research. Instead of board games and jump ropes, they turn to apps and games to not only socialize and share experiences with their peers, but to experience the world.
They have become accustomed to self-educating themselves on anything they want to know, and platforms like YouTube and Pinterest show them how to do everything from change the oil in their car to how to bake a pie. From there they dive in headfirst, and share their journey across apps like Snapchat and Instagram. They are fully connected, all the time, and expect answers to their questions to already be in the palm of their hands.
“They still possess general knowledge about traditional research methods, but they have come of age placing a priority on how fast you can find the right information rather than on whether or not you know the right information.”
This means that marketers must think mobile and digital first. The website for your business isn’t a secondary component; it is a mainstay for your business success and should be treated and planned as such. In history, we’ve looked to younger generations to lead the charge, where older generations become later adopters of technology (think: Facebook, iPhones, YouTube) and this is no different. Generation Z will soon be leading the way the world changes around us, just as millennials have done over the past 20 years.
How Do I Reach Gen Z?
Gen Z’ers are constantly online to not only find the product or service they are looking for, but the history, and the brand they’re buying into. As marketers, our websites should allow these users to not only find what they’re looking for, but to educate them about the product and make it the most available at that moment that it can be.
Businesses using their website as a landing page, hoping people will call, are missing out on significant business, by not fully extending their brand into the digital space. While they may only see minimal impact of that this year, there is no doubt that without change they will suffer significantly in the future.
Staying ahead of the curve means acting now. For your business, that means building a digital presence that grabs the attention of your audience before they need it. Simply reacting to demands of a new market will leave you behind and playing catch up will require twice the work. Naturally leading new audiences into your business funnel and thinking about their needs ahead of time is guaranteed to help Gen Z not only find your business, but continue to increase conversions for your bottom line.
What do you think? Will Generation Z have an impact on your business. Does your digital marketing plan have an outlook for the next generation of customers? We can help.
Let's Talk Gen Z
Photos courtesy of VisualHunt.com