Engaging with generation Z

A company’s digital presence must be a continually changing process as Generation Z (Gen Z) enters the market. Generation Z challenges the company’s digital presence because this generation wants and is attracted to different ways of advertising than most companies are used to.     Generation Z consists of people born between 1995- 2012 according to SocialMarketing.org.  They are the generation that follows millennials. According to Bloomberg, “Gen Z will comprise 32 percent of the global population of 7.7 billion in 2019, nudging ahead of millennials, who will account for a 31.5 percent share.” They are a generation that has different appeals, and this must be adapted to in order to attract this growing generation. This generation has grown up in a digital world and they are more comfortable with technology than millennials. They have different media habits by wanting to shape and create media, not just consume it (Forbes). Moreover, this generation comes with a unique set of behaviors that creates challenges for brands to reach them.

The first step a company might take is to evaluate themselves and their current digital presence. They must look at their strengths and weaknesses to see how many opportunities there are to attract Gen Z and market to them in the best way. By taking this step, it can overall increase a company’s digital footprint and build brand equity to gain recognition and differentiate itself from competitors.  Here is a quick breakdown of what Gen Z looks for and how to engage them.

Be authentic

Generation Z values companies/brands that are authentic in the way they present themselves. As Michelle King said in her article, Three Things You Need To Know About Marketing To Gen Z Women, “This generation is coming at everything from a really unique perspective because they place a huge amount of value on authenticity.” They are not as influenced by celebrity endorsements and value a meaningful relationship with a brand. So, brands must look to sell an experience or a set of values, not just their product in order to attract Gen Z. Generation Z wants to see “real” people using products in advertisements. The clothing line Aerie is a great example, they do not use the photo on models and they highlight models with disabilities portraying it as a strength. By doing this, brand Aerie has created a compelling story, causing them to be disruptors in the market and engaging Gen Z consumers. Gen Z wants to engage with brands who provide authentic information, and by doing this it could earn brand loyalty from the growing Generation Z market

Be fast

Generation Z has attention spans of only 8 seconds according to VisionCritical, which poses a challenge for most brands. Thousands of news events happen every day, and there are various available apps to get this information. In order to get all the information, Generation Z utilizes fast methods to achieve it; such as focusing on topics and refined content, reading quickly, and focusing on keywords. Generation Z process information faster than other generations, so, it is imperative for brands to keep all content and website information to the point, and digestible so that Gen Z can immediately understand what your organization is and why they should help you.

Work for a cause

The type of marketing and messages used to attract Gen Z must be fresh and innovative, not a “one size fits all generation marketing” approach. This generation was born in a world of networking and connectivity; These young people are technologically savvy and know their way around social media influencers and other new advertising methods. Gen Z craves social impact as the key to buying power (Forbes). The use of classic advertising will not work on this generation; they are more likely to interact with the brands they see investing in their employees, communities and have a corporate social responsibility in some way, even if their marketing or advertising isn’t the most outstanding. This generation values companies who invest time into something bigger than themselves and a brand they can look up to.

Mobile, mobile, mobile

According to VisionCritical, Gen Z uses their smartphone 15.4 hours a week compared to millennials who use a desktop 16.4 hours a week. Generation Z has grown up around the rapid change of technology and has almost never know their life without a smart device. Almost everything they do can be done on a smartphone (bills, banking, online shopping, etc.) In order to capture them, marketing strategies must evolve, and brands must have a strong mobile presence. It does not matter if a brand has been the leader of the industry for 20 years, Gen Z is internet “professionals” and if a brand’s mobile visuals/website looks outdated, they will not stay engaged.

Attracting Generation Z can be challenging, but they matter because of their large segment of the population.  By making these adaptations, it will improve Gen Z’s experience with the brand and make them more likely to engage and become part of.

Megan is a Account Coordinator at FarShore. She recently graduated from Saint Mary’s College (Notre Dame) and holds a degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing.
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