By the end of 2020, it is estimated that Generation Z – those born approximately between 1996 and 2010 – will account for 40% of all consumers. With this in mind, it is crucial for marketers to understand exactly what makes them tick.
As the first demographic cohort to be born entirely in the post-digital era, where terms like “Google it” or “Ask Siri” are the common answer to any given question, Generation Z know nothing of life without technology and the instantaneous availability of information.
Let’s give it some perspective. The oldest members of Generation Z were only two years old when Google was founded. Two years later, in 2000, WiFi became publicly available, connecting people anytime, anywhere. And by the time the upper end of Generation Z entered their teens, Facebook already had more than 100 million active users worldwide.
The younger end of Generation Z, who are still only children, will have no concept of a life without smartphones, tablets and, crucially, social media.
This familiarity – or, arguably, dependency – with technology means that Generation Z are often likened to their predecessors, millennials: the cohort born approximately between 1980 and 1995. Brands have often grouped them together, believing that the same factors will influence their purchasing decisions due to their shared use of smart technology.
However, experts are suggesting that whilst they might both use smart technology to obtain their information, the factors influencing their purchasing decisions are often very different for Generation Z and millennials. Brands who are unable to identify these differences are likely to be overlooked entirely by Generation Z, whose attention span is allegedly only an average of eight seconds, compared to millennials’ 12.
Gen Zers are digital natives; social media is not just a novelty, nor a privilege, nor a pastime – it is a way of life. And it’s complicated. Research has shown that Gen Zers bounce between five different screens at once, which is allegedly two more than millennials would. They treat social media not just as a way to connect with friends – or strangers – but also as a source of news, inspiration, and perhaps most crucially for brands, recommendations.
More so than the millennials who came before them, Gen Zers have proven themselves to be resilient to aspirational, mass-market advertising; instead they respond much more positively to highly individualised messaging that places them at the centre of the story.
This is where influencer marketing comes in. A survey conducted last year by digital agency Deep Focus found that 63 per cent of Gen Z would rather see social media influencers in advertising, whilst only 37 per cent would prefer to see a celebrity. Now more than ever, “real” people who can provide “real” recommendations are the only thing that will convince Gen Z to buy a product.
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