Digital Marketing to the Z Generation – Here is What You Need to Know
By Lihi Pinto Fryman • October 21, 2017
As the generational alphabet has come to its end, you can say that there is a sense of “finality” when it comes to the latest age group to receive its letter designation – generation Z. Yet, ascribing any sort of finality to them would be erroneous from the start, as this population clearly wants to stay one step ahead from any group that precedes it, making it inevitable for you as a digital marketer to quicken up your pace to avoid being left behind by this incoming cohort. Yes, you need to run while learning everything you know about consumers from “obsolete” generations you used to serve. Invoke voluntary amnesia for a moment and get down the rabbit hole of digital marketing for your best clients from the future.
Generation Z, You Say?
The jury is still out on their exact age range but they are generally described as individuals born after 1996, while other sources defines Generation Z as starting with the birth year 1993. In any case, their alternative designation of “iGeneration” can help you identify them as youngsters who get to be called the first authentic post-Internet and fully “digitalized” generation. Often recognized (or maligned) as cellphone gazers, this stereotyped image of them actually deserves your full attention as a digital marketer, since technology defines the manner in which they live and consume the content you offer. Oh, and did we say that they will also account for 40% of all consumers in only three-years time, packing $44 billion in buying power? Let’s look at the best ways to get ready for this generational shift.
Your Old Marketing Magic Does Not Work Here
And one of the key things to consider when approaching them is that the old marketing tricks won’t work with them, as the post-Millennials are prone to avoiding advertisements, with percentages going as high as 69%. At the same time, you have to bear in mind that these tech savvy individuals want both authentic value and presentation from their ads, having learned to see through the old fashioned advertising smoke & mirrors approach. They even eschew celebrities in favor of social media influencers.
This means that your marketing effort will profit from being more grounded in reality, as opposed to being flashy, while bearing in mind that some Generation Z-ers might even become your “competitors” in the roles of influencers. Therefore, your advertising approach should be centered on authenticity in both its content and intent, as this population shows great preference for ads with a more realistic flavoring. In line with this, presenting yourself as their worthy collaborator within a single ecosystem can be a strategy that will bring you great ROI, yet without any investment at all. The trick is the fact that the “I” here stands for “interaction” that will have to be established between you as the provider of content and Generation Z-ers who will easily value its mutually meaningful foundations.
Going beyond Your Dad’s Facebook
In addition to authenticity, your content will have to be focused on being both mobile and social media friendly, if you are to score successful marketing points with this bunch. As 96% of members of Generation Z own a smartphone, your advertising content will need to be optimized for mobile phones first instead of desktops, which is a novelty. Going beyond content, you will also have to keep in mind the “mobile-first” policy when it comes to your website, which will have to primarily accommodate for mobile.
The same goes for social media, as all of your awesome marketing content is practically non-existent for Generation Z if you fail to establish a quality social media presence. We are not talking about the social media that everybody and their brothers know about, such as Facebook. Current and incoming Generation Z-ers nowadays prefer platforms such as Instagram or Snapchat, with 78% of them valuing its features and the ability to hide from prying eyes of family members or older friends.
Another fortunate combo of both authenticity and perceived privacy is the increasingly popular Instagram Stories which draws a huge audience. The process of pinpointing which is the most attractive (and shared) content offered by these influencers will be greatly streamlined by the use of analytical tools. All of these point to the increasingly pressing need to reinvent your digital marketing strategy which will need to take into consideration the most popular social media platforms and the bridges they build in connecting you and your youthful audience.
Scrambling for Attention: Video Ads
The youngest audience are heavy video users [Image Credit: The Nielsen Company]At the same time, once you grab their attention with content, you will also need to keep them engaged long enough, as the Generation Z-ers are well-known (or notorious) for their shorter attention spans, currently sitting around eight seconds. This type of 8-sec “filter” means that your content has only a limited time to catch the imagination of this age group. These guys know what they want, and they want it now. The culture of instant gratification is alive and well in Gen-Z. And no, you can hardly blame them for this, as some estimates say that Generation Z consumers are exposed to 200 000 marketing messages before they reach the tender age of 15. It’s no wonder then that they have developed a specific defense mechanism in the form of said filter which, combined with the disappearance of traditional brand loyalty, means that your marketing content has to remain on-topic and relevant literally all the time.
At the same time, these individuals demand not only meaningful content, but an attractive visual presentation of it, as this is even more visually oriented generation than their “millennial” predecessors. And what is a better medium for this than video? You have those precious 8 seconds so why not present something that is topical, concise and packed with visual flair. This is corroborated by the data saying that one third of this population watches at least one hour of video content online on a daily basis.
Thus, incorporating video into your digital marketing strategy becomes a no-brainer. Make this a priority. With the costs of video production dropping due to tech improvements, today, video content seems more economically and technically feasible than ever.
Gen Z spends a lot on new experiences with friends [Image Credit: Marketing Charts]
In today’s highly dynamic digital advertising world, at least one thing is certain: its success and growth will be largely governed by the degree to which a marketer succeeds in understanding the marketing needs of Generation Z . Timely application of a marketing strategy which is tailored to their preferences means you need to start preparing for it immediately. This is a powerful generation comprising one’s current and future consumers. Focusing on authentic and easily relatable marketing content, as well as optimizing for mobile platforms and social networks does seem to be the name of the game here. As this population inevitably grows in its marketing prominence, understanding and befriending them in advance means that you’ll not get left behind once the time comes to turning them into your valuable clients.