Younger consumers are posing an exceptional challenge for today’s marketers. These Generation Z audiences have grown up surrounded by media, their lives are saturated by advertisements on social media, on television, and on the radio. They are experts at navigating this fragmented multimedia landscape, and they can see right through any marketing strategies that are perceived as disingenuous. Because of this, a lot of the generation Z audience has clearly defined beliefs and values, and they expect bigger brands to do the same in order to humanise these corporations.
Younger people are older than you may think, however. When you think ‘Millennial’, you should know that the oldest members of the Millennial generation are approaching forty and that this age group will occupy almost 75% of the workforce by 2025.
With marketers still targeting Millennials with their ‘young’ beliefs in order to seem relevant, know that their fresh-faced counterparts have already emerged to take their spot with their unwavering beliefs and a wide-open third eye.
Generation Z are those born between 1997 and 2012, and though they often have vastly different values, they share similar traits to the Millennials who you’ve already been targeting. Both are incredibly comfortable with technology, but having been brought up on the information superhighway; Generation Z are the first truly digitally native generation – having been born not knowing a world without the Internet and 98% owning a smartphone. Generation Z understands technology more intuitively than any of their predecessors – and the next generation will be similar.
When it comes to navigating the differences between the two audiences, WARC noticed subtle differences. Gen Z are more interested in social responsibility and making the world a better place, think Black Lives Matter, Greta Thunberg, and social media activism with the presidential election. However, Millennials are more focussed on pursuing authenticity and truth. Gen Z are more independent than their counterparts, and Millennials are more collaborative.
What both these generations do share, however, is a passion for authentic experiences. Research from Barclaycard shows that both tend to prioritise experiences, over material products. The pandemic has meant a lot of these experiences are currently out of reach for Gen Z – but this presents an opportunity for brands to help fill that gap.
In order to effectively market towards Gen Z, marketing teams should take these similarities and differences on board. Gen Z are quickly becoming one of the most influential audiences, with a spending power of over £113bn and account for nearly 40% of all consumers.
If the pandemic has done anything good for marketing and brands, it has shown the importance of your brand’s purpose and identity. While all consumers are more conscious of the brands they support, Generation Z are champions when it comes to holding brands who share the same views they do. They can tell when its virtue signalling, so they hold authenticity in higher regard over anything else. When a brand does something wrong, they want actions; not a corporate standard apology on Twitter.
Gen Z often takes a stand on a lot of social justice issues: equal rights, sexual orientation, LGBT+ rights, race issues, Black Lives Matter, and the environmental crisis just to name a few. Any brands that don’t reflect the values that they share are actively challenged vocally – they want actions from these billion-dollar brands, and they aren’t afraid to take matters into their own hands.
Research from IPSOS shows that Gen Z are far more likely to boycott, or cancel, brands than their predecessors – 40% of Gen Z would boycott a brand compared to just 16% of Millennials. Younger audiences are also quick to act and 86% of UK Gen Z shoppers have already walked away from a brand because they have heard or experienced something they didn’t like.
Generation Z are the most marketed to generations in history, and because of this; its had an impact on how they engage with marketing. Vision Critical research shows that the average attention span of a Gen Z audience member is eight seconds – four seconds less than a Millennial, a natural consequence of their digital upbringing.
Gen Z has evolved to develop a much more effective filter for distinguishing ‘useful’ information from the ‘useless’.
To engage Gen Z effectively, marketers need to put experience in the driving seat. It is wise to invest in understanding how your audience feels and how they behave, then use media to deliver the desired experience. McKinsey found that personalisation leads to 5-15% increases in revenue and 10-30% percent increases in marketing-spend efficiency.
Data should be at the heart of every marketing strategy, enabling a personalised, relevant, and timely message to your audience. By personalising your messages, it can lead to more audience engagement. McKinsey found that personalisation leads to 5-15% increases in revenue and 10-30% increases in marketing-spend efficiency.
As Gen Z has grown up immersed in the digital landscape, they expect personalisation across all communication channels. Make sure that your Gen Z audience can instantly see that your message is tailored to them, making your call to action clear. Digital CTAs like QR codes or social media links are often effective with Generation Z
Immersion is also important when engaging Generation Z. 88% of Gen Z respondents prefer brand experiences delivered across a blend of digital and physical channels.
Authenticity is also a vital point when targeting Gen Z, with this audience needing to trust corporate messaging in order to meaningfully engage with it.
A global Kantar study found 70% of UK consumers don’t trust’ content on social media. The study also found that 15-24-year-olds had the highest reportable level of trust in mail during lockdown, with 44.7% stating they trusted the content of mail.
There’s been a 70% increase in mail driving online behaviour since the beginning of the pandemic, demonstrating that personalisation delivered physically often leads to a digital commercial outcome. Using QR codes offer a combined physical and digital experience, with 84% of smartphone users stating they have scanned a QR code at least once, and 67% stating they make lives easier in a contactless world.
Digital fatigue is a critical consideration, even when targeting the digitally native Generation Z; and younger. More than 2 in 5 consumers reported suffering from ‘digital overload’ as less physical and social stimulation impacts our health. According to Statista, 306.4 billion emails are sent daily – but only 18% of marketing emails are opened. Comparatively, 96% of addressed mail is opened.
Mail is one of the most effective ways to reach Gen Z. They are 40% more likely to say that mail can change their mind about a brand than the average UK adult. And as they’re half as likely to be targeted by these channels, mail has greater cut through.
As one of the most influential generations in history, their influence is only going to grow as they reach adulthood and become financially independent. Gen Z are an audience with strong beliefs and ideas about brand ethics, marketers should explore what drives Gen Z – and be cognizant that digital natives are not digitally exclusive.
Harnessing the right blend of physical and digital channels, and including brand purpose at the core of your marketing, you can capture Gen Z as your audience by speaking to their hearts and minds.