Gen Z is a tech-savvy generation with no experience of a life without smartphones and social media. By 2020 this generation will make up almost half of all consumers. Marketers need to look for fresh ways to reach this fast-growing consumer market.
What sets Gen Z apart? Welcome to the first true digital natives. The way they use technology, a sense of social responsibility and a desire to make a difference in the world distinguish them from previous generations. Marketers can’t just replicate marketing strategies used for Millennials. Here some important strategies to engage Gen Z.
Use the right channels
Reaching Gen Z means finding the social channels it uses. CivicScience, a Consumer and Marketing Intelligence Company, reports that 72% of Gen Z visit YouTube daily. They spend time watching videos, as well as chatting via apps such as Voxxer or Slack.
Gen Z tends to see email as outdated, and they are more likely to open a chat or text message. Using native apps, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat come naturally to them. They tend to take a multi-faceted approach to social media, using channels for different purposes. They will use Snapchat for capturing real-life moments, Twitter for news bites and Instagram to showcase their aspirations.
Media attention may be focused on newer platforms but according to a recent Criteo study, 54,9% of Gen Z use Facebook more than once a day, followed by Snapchat and Instagram.
Selling strategies tailored to them need to take mobile devices into account and include several different formats such as videos, reviews, photos, stories, etc.
Keep in mind they’re a mobile-first generation
A study from Content Square reports that Gen Z is twice as likely to shop on mobile as Millenials. A marketing strategy must take into account the frequent use of mobile devices, like tablets and smartphones.
If brands want a truly mobile-friendly user experience (UX), they need to design content accordingly. Having grown up with mobile, Gen Z knows what makes up good UX. When it comes to text, they expect short sentences rather than long paragraphs, frequent subheads and bullet points, and more white space for easy navigation between pages.
When it comes to video, you will have to distribute on the platforms they’re subscribed to, and consistently come up with educational and entertaining content they will enjoy. Be mindful of your brand’s principles when formulating your video strategy because Gen Z will be paying attention.
Cater to short attention spans
To engage with Gen Z, you need to understand the speed at which they communicate and the references that engage them. Short form video content and bite-sized text with visuals tend to engage them more.
The attention span of Gen Z is even shorter than that of Millenials, according to Sparks & Honey. It has currently been measured at about 8 seconds.
Gen Z tends to use social media more than Millennials, but they do it in shorter spurts. Clear, focused information that’s easy to share appeals to them. Get to the point quickly in any type of content, including videos, or they’ll simply move on.
Gen Z lives with information at their fingertips and takes for granted that they can find answers to any problem. They are notorious for their impatience and are more likely to say rush my essay or rush my delivery than previous generations.
Use the right videos at the right time
Gen Z enjoys watching many quick 1-2 minute videos from their phones. This means that the video provides the perfect medium for reaching them. Brands that want to reach Gen Z with video content need to find out where and what they’re watching. The same old cookie-cutter material is not going to appeal to them because they have such a variety to choose from.
When using video, paying attention to key metrics, such as views, shares, and comments is vital. Studying analytics allows you to find out what’s successful and adapt your strategies accordingly. Some trial and error are usually necessary before discovering a winning formula with regard to the right length and tone.
Certain videos are more appropriate to some stages of the marketing funnel than others. Short, entertaining, educational videos are best for the first stage when any direct sales pitches will drive them away.
According to Ipsos, Gen Z often relies on YouTube to help them become more knowledgeable about something. They also say that watching online videos is a social experience for them – watching videos and reading comments helps them feel more connected to others.
Research shows that they are likely to pro-actively share videos with other generations, such as their parents.
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Be clear about company values
Gen Z is out to change the world and tend to link values to purchasing. A deep concern about the future makes them want to play a part in fixing the world’s problems. Gen Z does their homework about brands they do business with. They pay attention to where products come from and how they are made.
It’s important for them to know a brand’s core values and see whether these align with their own. Integrity and authenticity matter to them and won’t hesitate to take their business away from a company if they feel it is violating these principles.
In all your content, you need to make it clear that you have a mission besides just making profits. You need to dig deep into what you stand for and make sure the ship is pointed in the right direction before deciding on any strategies. It’s not enough to create one clip of how your company is making a difference. Any brand can make a promise but Gen Z wants to see that you keep it and continue to do so.
Make it clear consistently across all platforms that you have a mission and an overall goal. If you’re aware of your mission and your values align with what Gen X cares about, you can rise above the competition.
Make use of user-generated content
Gen Z wants to see hundreds of reviews, user-generated photos, videos and more before buying a product. Go-Pro is a brand that uses plenty of user-generated content. A fireman who posted a video on Go-Pros social media of rescuing a cat with his Go-Pro camera attached to his helmet went viral.
It’s all about persuasion and referrals rather than tired old marketing strategies when it comes to Gen Z. They would rather see testimonials, case studies, and reviews – how other people experience a product or service matters to them. If you can reach them and make them into loyal customers, they are likely to tell others about your brand and share your videos with them.
Skip the marketing speak
Gen Z prefers to see ‘real people’ in advertising. Instagram accounts of ordinary people with extraordinary lives are becoming the face of the platform. Brands are leveraging these people to reach their followers in an authentic way. Gen Z is accepting of endorsements by celebrities, as long as they are transparent and honest. UGC is the king of Instagram.
Gen Z responds to a fun, conversational tone rather than buzzwords and marketing speak. They don’t respond to sales gimmicks – they want a direct, individualized approach. They want you to speak to them like a human being and not a marketer.
Understanding the benefit of a product in their lives and what it can do for them is important. When Apple promotes its watches, it doesn’t talk about time but about freedom. It focuses on how it feels to use the technology rather than on how it works.
Work on entertaining interactions, authenticity, and experiences that predict what they need rather than using generic appeal. They want to interact in a meaningful way and inflexible, cold brands turn them off.
Inclusive language is very important to them – YouTube “gives everyone a voice” and Spotify has “music for everyone”.
Getting a member of Gen Z to help with crafting messages can be very helpful. Who knows their motivations better than someone who is part of the group? Sprint Mobile formed a team of Gen Z and Millennial employees called Candybar that now runs their youth marketing division.
Give them the best product or service for the best price
Gen Z grew up watching their parents struggle to cope during times of economic instability. This changed the way they see money and finances. They are more focused on saving, less likely to take risks and want stability in their jobs and finances. They tend to be more fiscally responsible than other generations were at their age and have conversations with their parents about money and debt.
Debt is a serious consideration to them and they don’t want to be burdened with it. They are concerned about the cost of education and paying off student loans. Some plan to work through college and others intend to go to a less expensive college. This means that when they enter the workforce, they may be able to take a job they really want that pays less because they won’t have as much student debt.
According to a Center for Generational Kinetics study, 29% believe that personal debt should be reserved for select items and 23% believe it should be avoided at all costs.
The fact that this generation has a saving mentality is evident from the same study which found that 21% of the respondents had a saving account before the age of 10.
Another interesting revelation from the study was that 46% had not been inside a bank in the past month. Almost half of them have a money or payment app on their mobile phones.
Gen Z pays attention to their peers and to ratings and reviews when making purchases. They show a willingness to consume more information and become informed about products or services. They want to make sure they are getting the best value for their money when making a purchase. They value their money and they want brands to value it too. This generation gathers information quickly, filters out noise and zeros in on voices they can trust. They will filter out any obvious marketing very quickly and you need to give them a good reason to let your message through.
Utilize the shift to online learning
The way Gen Z learns differs from previous generations. INC has found that 33% prefer to watch lessons online and 32% collaborate with classmates via the Internet. In-class and online curriculum are common.
Learning from YouTube is more popular than attending lectures or learning from books, according to a Pearson study. They expect learning experiences that are more engaging, rewarding and less time-consuming. On YouTube, they can find short tutorials that are easily digestible.
Educational experiences have to change to include accelerated, adaptable and more flexible tools and options. The role of video and visual learning is growing all the time. In the past, a teacher would have to talk about something like gravity in an abstract sense but with video, students can see it at work on earth versus in space which makes the concept more concrete.
Just because they value learning on YouTube doesn’t mean they don’t value teachers. What they are hungry for is purposeful learning.
A growing genre is Study with Me videos, showing people filming themselves to encourage good study habits. This is typical of Gen Z innovating with a new video format that brings together a desire to learn with human connection. They find it easier to study when they observe the focus of the person on the screen and find it less distracting than studying with a friend.
Gen Z will be shaping our world for generations to come which is why marketers are so keen on finding out how they tick. They’re trying to find out where they’re found online and what factors influence their decisions. Having a strong online presence and digital reputation will be one of the main drivers of marketing for Gen Z.