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Marketing to Gen Z

Marketers have been spending a lot of time and energy the past several years trying to figure out how to market to millennials, those born in the 1980’s and ’90s.

In 2018, appealing to millennials is still an important goal, but many brands are also putting their efforts into reaching the “new” generation, Gen Z. Brands want to understand how to reach those kids born in the late ‘90s and 2000s, who are starting to become adults and making purchasing decisions

Here are a few stats to show why reaching Gen Z will be important to marketers in 2018 and beyond:

>The global Gen Z population is expected to reach 2.56 billion by 2020, and 84.7 million in the US.

>85% of Gen Z uses social media to find out about new products.

>32% of Gen Z watches at least an hour of video content online each day.

>Nearly half of those in Gen Z will spend 10 hours a day online.

>63% of Gen Z prefers to see real people in ads rather than celebrities.

According to Josh Perlstein, CEO of digital and direct CRM agency Response Media, in his article “Engaging Generation Z: Marketing to a New Brand of Consumer,” on adweek.com, there are several fundamental differences between Gen X and Z. For one, he says, Gen-Zers are more interested in participating in social activism and working for their success.

Another significant difference is Gen Z’s multifaceted approach to social media.

“Gen Z uses different platforms for different activities,” Perlstein writes. “On Instagram, they showcase their aspirational selves; on Snapchat, they share real-life moments; on Twitter, they get the news; and on Facebook, they glean information, according to a study recently conducted by Response Media.

“In other words, Gen-Zers fragment and focus their social media time — they share certain types of content on particular social channels,” he continues. “All of this is done in quick touches, or micro-interactions, that might last only a few seconds. They’re also frequent, with some Gen-Zers checking their social media accounts as often as 100 times per day.”

Connecting with Generation Z

While Perlstein writes that Gen Z can be reached on social media, their behavior once there can create pitfalls for marketers.

“Brands that don’t adapt to the way Gen Z consumes messages will lose market share,” he writes. “For example, marketing emails to Gen-Z consumers that don’t tell a quick story with relevant value might be ignored by consumers who are eager to check out the next message.”

Brands also needs to communicate with Gen-Zers in the right way.

“Companies’ marketing messages need to be clear about what they stand for so that their brands are not interpreted as uninvolved in or opposed to social causes important to Gen-Zers,” he says. “When it comes to communicating with these consumers, it’s all about the fit. Marketing posts must be tailored to each social media platform while keeping the overall message the same across the web.”

Marketers have to make sure their messaging is succinct across all platforms.

“You might have only a few seconds to grab a Gen-Zer’s attention, after all: While a millennial or Gen-Xer might stop for a moment to read a longer post, Gen-Zers want to get straight to the point and move along to the next post,” he says.

Perlstein recommends the following approaches that tap into Gen Zers’ core characteristics and encourage engagement:

>“Involving Gen-Zers in the message catches their attention: If Gen-Z consumers help produce or create the message, they’ll be more responsive to it. Hollister implemented this approach successfully: Its Snapchat geofilters provide a real-life take on the brand that both relies and focuses on the Gen-Z shopper, rather than just throwing an ad in front of the Gen-Z consumer. Snapchat geofilters are participatory in the way consumers share the experience with the brand, thus connecting with Gen Z.”

>“Highlighting real people is another promising approach: Not models — real teens. Like teenagers throughout the generations, Gen-Zers are looking for authenticity and people who reflect their own lives. Consider the Dove campaign for Real Beauty: It moved away from idealized female beauty standards and instead celebrated women’s beauty through videos, activities, tool kits and products. While that campaign didn’t initially target Gen Z, it shows the power that authenticity can wield in the marketplace.”

>“Expect Gen-Zers to look for social responsibility, as well: That said, Gen Z considers providing good value for a fair price a socially responsible behavior that delivers a greater good. Beyond that, studies have shown that Gen Z is interested in racial, gender and income equality, as well as environmental issues. Standing up for these values is becoming a differentiator for brands. For example, DanoneWave — parent organization of brands such as Silk, Dannon yogurt and Horizon Organic — is raising its profile by pursuing a “B-Corp” certification that requires it to meet stiff social and environmental performance standards.”

>“As Gen Z comes of age, marketing teams will have to adapt and learn to communicate in new ways on social media. Messages will need to be customized, snappy and socially meaningful to successfully engage an audience that’s already starting to dominate the market.”

Perlstein  concludes that today’s social media trends are bound to change, but companies will benefit for years from keeping up with Gen Z’s social media behaviors.

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