The Next Generation of Consumers: Generation Z

Knowing the audience is necessary for Brand Managers and Marketers as their job is to attract consumers towards their services and products, something that they cannot do unless they know their target audience inside out.

While factors such as new innovations, new brands, products, trends, and competition affect the market; it is also highly affected by Generational Shifts.

Think of the generations before us and how different they were; there was a lot of focus on long-term careers and there was much less time for entertainment. Compare the Middle East right now with how it was thirty years ago, you will realize that the Generational Shift has resulted in changing people’s tastes.

The next generation of consumers is called Generation Z. These are the people who are in schools right now and will be becoming adults in a few years. Brand Managers and Marketers need to understand Generation Z, in order to be able to work with them and create the things that they want.

Understanding Generation Z is a big challenge because winning them as consumers will ensure that the Brand, Business or Product will have an optimistic future.

Generation Z’s average yearly allowance is $44B, therefore they shouldn’t be ignored. They are going to be the main consumers soon and what they buy and the way they buy it, will be changing the market forever.

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Top 3 challenges when marketing to Generation Z

Marketers nowadays are facing a lot of challenges when marketing to Generation Z. The main challenges are:

  • They still aren’t fully understood by marketers because they are such recent entrants into the market
  • Generation Z constantly switches between devices; iPhone, iPad, Laptop, Desktop, etc. which makes it harder for marketers to track and target them.
  • They don’t hold back their opinions; if you do something wrong or stupid, be ready for the social media backlash.

Understanding Generation Z

Generation Z, also known as Gen Z and iGeneration, are the post-millennials loosely defined as those born between late 90’s and 2010.

While Millennials and Generation Y are generations that witnessed wars (Lebanese civil war, Iraq-Iran war, Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait), Generation Z is a generation that witnessed: War on Terrorism, A Great Recession and an Unprecedented Ascent of Technology.

It is important to understand that Generation Z didn’t grow up with conventional warfare in the world where countries were fighting each other. They are growing in a world where countries are joining hands to fight terrorists. It is a War against Groups and Ideas.

They also witnessed the Great Recession in 2007–2008, which leads some scholars to debate that Generation Z has a feeling of unsettlement and insecurity, short attention spans and a significant 11 percent have been diagnosed with ADHD.

Continuous and easy access to the Internet is a basic reality for Generation Z because they never saw a world without it. Their complete comfort with new technologies and trends is an opportunity for the companies — but it is a challenge too, as their knowledge about how the digital world works, is often better than the older people working in companies.

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According to a 2014 study, more than a quarter of the U.S. population belongs to Gen Z. They watch lessons online (33%) Read textbooks on tablets (20%) and work with classmates online (32%). Generation Z is mature, self-directed and resourceful.

They are much more conservative when it comes to finances. They are also very entrepreneurial, partly because they grew up in a world where people can easily make money online. They are very accepting of different opinions and people. Diversity is important for them. They are also notoriously independent minded and harder to reach than the generations before them. Generation Z are fast movers and seek privacy; 25% of teens (from 13–17) ended up leaving Facebook due to privacy concerns. They are more into ephemeral communication like Whisper and SnapChat. They don’t want to leave a record of their activities behind.

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Marketing to Generation Z

In order to market to Generation Z we have to change our Branding and Marketing Strategies so they match what we have learned about them. We have to create advertisements and campaigns that appeal to them. In order to do so, we need to:

  • Communicate visually rather than by text. They aren’t interested in reading texts anymore; they are interested in visuals. Thus the success of Instagram, Snapchat and Pinterest. They even chose their partners by viewing their photos on Tinder.
  • Keep it short. They have short attention spans, which means their attention has to be caught quickly and for a brief time only.
  • Tap into their entrepreneurial and self-actualization spirit. Companies need to create content (not just advertisements) which reinforces the idea of chasing dreams and success.
  • Inspire them with social causes that can motivate them. Stand up for a cause such as global warming, anti child labor, women’s rights, etc. Nike does this really well with their hashtags #justdoit and #nikewomen. They have a consistent visual language and ideas across campaigns on all platforms.
  • Gain their Trust. Over Deliver. Generation Z is full of skeptics; they are used to being promised a lot but delivered a little, so even if they see an amazing advertisement or announcement they keep their hopes low. Brands have to over deliver so consumers are delighted when they finally make a purchase and create a lot of positive social media buzz.
  • Adopt The Latest Technologies That Match Their Needs. Netflix’s seamless streaming technology is a great example. Netflix allows the viewer to switch between watching something on the television, to watching something on the tablet, to watching it on the phone without forgetting what you were watching. Close a movie on TV and open it on your phone and it will open at the same scene you closed it at.

The development and change in humanity and our societies is happening at an exponential rate and the gap between generations is becoming bigger. The companies and brands that are able to make a base right now, when the market hasn’t settled down and there is a lot of uncertainty, are the ones who reap the benefit. If a company is able to successfully target Generation Z right now, it will definitely have their loyalty in the future.

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