The Future Generation: How to Market to Gen Z Now

Born between 1995 and 2010, Generation Z (Gen Z) have been brought up in a world dominated by the internet and digital technology. Never has a group been so well connected to information, people and brands. However, despite this connection, businesses looking to tap into this lucrative market have traditionally struggled to understand how to engage with Gen Z.

Jaywing recently worked with YouGov to question over 1,000 UK 16 – 21-year olds for their opinions on brands, social media and their priorities in life. The results provide some valuable insight into the way Gen Z interacts across different social media channels, highlighting a range of factors which influence the demographic’s decision to engage with brands in the digital world.

Worth a predicted $44 billion in purchasing power in the US alone, Gen Z is projected to become a more important demographic for brands than millennials over the next few years.

Applying the human touch

The results showed that the most important factor for any business to consider when marketing to Gen Z is authenticity. 60% of Gen Z say that automated responses make them feel less valued by a brand. This highlights Gen Z’s preference for seeking human interaction in conversations. They want brands to appreciate them and aren’t willing to compromise this for speed. As a result, businesses need to ensure their customer service is personalised across all channels. The tone of voice should remain consistent regardless of the person, technology or process by which the service is being delivered.

Getting the tone right

Jaywing’s study shows that 67% of Gen Z prefer a colloquial tone of voice over a formal one. For example, Netflix has been incredibly successful at marketing to Gen Z, partly through its use of informal language. For those who aren’t already aware, Netflix’s official Twitter bio is currently: ‘Beyoncé, pink the color, P!NK the person, hot dogs, basically anything that is awesome, sno cones.’ Regardless of generation, we all prefer being spoken to in a way that makes us feel understood on a personal level. The hard part is tailoring your content so it reaches a breadth of generations, without excluding individual demographics.

Content is still king

Research shows that Gen Z has an attention span of roughly eight seconds, compared to 12 seconds for millennials. Whilst attention spans are shorter among the younger generation, Gen Z’s ability to hyper-process information is much faster.

With guidance from social platforms such as Facebook claiming that brands only have a short time period to capture someone’s attention before they continue scrolling, it is crucial for brands to get their content strategies right. Jaywing’s research found that 65% of Gen Z are more likely to engage with content from brands they actively follow within their social feeds than brands they don’t follow. This confirms the need for brands to consider their relationship with the consumer they’re targeting, and evaluate which measurements are key for prioritising content and how it’s targeted to brand fans and the wider audience.

Choose influencers wisely

Driven by the rise of social media stars like Zoella, 2017 saw the continued rise of influencer marketing, with brands and influencers both happy to enter into partnerships for commercial gain. In Jaywing’s survey, Gen Z respondents were relatively indifferent to this tactic from brands. Nearly 40% were on the fence as to whether they like or dislike influencer content delivery, with this content disliked only slightly less than content delivered via Snapchat stories. The findings showed that two-thirds of Gen Z are indifferent or react negatively to influencer content, showing how important it is for brands to create the right partnerships to cut through this sceptical audience. Influencers present brands with a unique opportunity to promote their products with authenticity. However, when it comes to selecting partnerships, brands should consider not just the brand fit, but also how many other products influencers are promoting, and the invasiveness of these promotions before reaching a decision.

Gen Z might be an elusive demographic, but there are several ways brands can adapt their online strategies to reach this group of consumers. Worth a predicted $44 billion in purchasing power in the US alone, Gen Z is projected to become a more important demographic for brands than millennials over the next few years. Businesses that take the time now to understand how Gen Z interacts online, will reap the rewards.

Brian Taylor

Managing Director at Jaywing

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