There is no doubt that millennials are currently the public segment that buys and consumes products and services the most. But it is also true that those who make up generation Z will take that place in the market from them in a very few years. From now on, the urgent task of brands is to win the trust of this age group.
This implies getting to know a consumer with very different expectations and understanding the context in which they move, dominated by social networks, more to provide interactive experiences that generate engagement than to offer you products and services. Many organizations are already doing this with greater or lesser success. Meanwhile, those ignoring the so-called centennials run the risk of missing out on future opportunities.
Who are the young people of generation Z ? What characterizes them? What do they expect from brands, and how should companies approach them? These are the questions that we will try to answer briefly below.
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Who Makes Up Generation Z?
There was no consensus on when those who make up Generation Z were born. A generalized criterion establishes this period from 1997 to 2015. The age range would be between children of seven years old to adults of 25; however, other organizations and publications like the US Census Bureau. Well-known Time magazine defines Z as those born after 2001. Furthermore, in marketing and sales strategies, an age range between 18 and 23 years is handled. Students and young people who access their first jobs coincide in this group. Some have already graduated, but overall most still live with their parents.
Their income and spending patterns fluctuate, and this will continue to happen for years to come as circumstances allow them to be more independent and confident in their decisions.
The Genesis of Generation Z
Perhaps it doesn’t make as much sense to take an in-depth look at the current buying behaviors of the Zs, but they do study the environment in which they grew up. This aspect has impacted his way of being and will have it in his future life.
The generation we refer to grew up and was formed in a context of economic crisis. The Great Recession stemming from the housing bubble may have directly or indirectly affected your family’s finances. Likewise, the wave of global protests generated for this or other reasons and the measures taken by governments to confront them could help forge their non-conformist character. To all this, we must add the terrorist attacks such as those in Madrid (2004) and London (2005) that showed part of society’s threats.
Of course, we cannot ignore the significant influence of the advances of the Internet and IT. One of its consequences was the development of social networks, which have helped shape the preferred way of interaction of the Zs. All of this allows us to understand the complexity of tomorrow’s majority consumers broadly.
Some Features of Generation Z
Now, it is essential to assess what some research reveals about generation Z. For example, software platform Marketo found that 60% of Zs want to make a positive difference in the world. Along the same lines, 76% claim to be concerned about the impact of human activities on the planet’s conservation.
These examples highlight the difference between millennials and millennials: Millennials are more prone to causes; the second is to the purposes. Therefore, the next step for brands and organizations is to balance corporate objectives and a genuine and practical concept of social responsibility.
What are The Z’s like, And How Are They Different From Millennials?
So far, we’ve said little about millennials born between 1981 and 1996, thus predating Generation Z. The comparison will help us understand both, but more to centennials.
Millennial Idealism vs. Pragmatism Z
Millennials are more idealistic and tend to be more optimistic because they grew up in a time of economic boom and got support from their parents. On the contrary, centennials are very pragmatic since their parents’ financial difficulties marked their lives. This explains why the most effective marketing for them is the one that promotes long-term value, savings, and wise investments.
Generation Z Wants More Innovation.
Research from Salesforce showed that 55% of Zs want new products, more than 46% of millennials. Both audiences almost agree in expecting brands to transform their products and services into digital experiences (76% centennials and 73% millennials). Understandably, the generation we are dealing with wants more innovation, having grown up in a time of vertiginous technological advances.
Less Emotional Connection With Brands
Generation Z is less emotionally connected to brands than its predecessors. Growing up, millennials raved about name-brand clothing and footwear, and their preference has changed little as adults. Stereotypes of physical beauty, elegance, and purchasing power supported this trend, unlike centennials, who are more attached to messages that promote authenticity, personal freedom, and diversity. An example of this is the successful Dove campaigns. Go! Let’s get ahead with a marketing tip.
The RRSS Are Instruments To Build Community, And They Are Not Transmission Platforms.
For previous generations, the emergence of social networks meant incorporating new channels to transmit messages. Immediately, many businesses shared content on Facebook using the same criteria as traditional print and billboard marketing. And they failed! They did not understand from the beginning the true purpose of social platforms: to connect people and build communities.
On the other hand, the Z public does have it more transparent since it grew up with social networks. Part of his friendships was made through these platforms. Before spreading a message, a centennial intends to contribute to that online community in a relevant way. There are no catchy slogans or promises, and it is also not designed to get people to buy what it is recommending. Therefore, it is not surprising that 76% of Zs feel that they can turn their foray into the RRSS into a profession. For them, being an ‘influencer’ is as realistic a career as any you study at university and play in a company.
How Could Your Brand Reach Generation Z?
The following are just a few suggestions that you could apply in a marketing strategy for your brand to audience Z :
- Due to the context in which they grew up, generation Z tends to make purchases that optimize the value of each euro they invest. Marketing strategies aimed at this audience should focus on attractive but accurate offers and bonuses such as free shipping and gift cards. In other cases, also secure high-quality investments.
- As we anticipated above, authenticity is essential in marketing communication for Zs. It vindicates their individuality, strengthens the validity of being what they want to be, and discards stereotypes.
- Share relevant content on social networks and motivate interaction through these channels creatively. Use one or several influencers whose audience matches your public in tastes, interests, and needs. This strategy must be planned and coherent and be aligned with the values of your brand and your products.
- Young Z can distinguish between brands that support causes to improve their image and those that do so out of conviction and as part of their values. Show that your social responsibility efforts are sincere and that you are irrevocably committed to those purposes.
Don’t Forget The Research.
Finally, it would help to assume the investigation as a continuous and fundamental activity. In parallel to the demand for greater relevance and authenticity by generation Z, brands must incorporate new criteria and tools to investigate their consumers in general. Big Data and social listening resources, real-time interaction tracking, and proper qualitative understanding will help align your strategy with Z audience expectations.