Grabbing hold of Gen Z can be as hard as catching a bouncy ball in a squash court – one moment they’re here, the next they’re over there, and just when you manage to get your hands on them for a second they slip right through and are off somewhere else. The upshot is that the teens and young adults of today are the everywhere generation; in their lives, in their minds and online, they are covering so much real-life and digital ground that it can be hard for companies to know how to get them to take notice of their brand.
Millennials who were logging into chatrooms and MSN Messenger from the 1990s into the 2000s needed a revolution in the way they were marketed to, and consequently they became the most researched generation in history. With the dust barely settling from figuring out Gen Y, along comes Gen Z, and although the two groups share many similarities, there are differences that you need to be aware of to drive your strategy with them. If you have been wondering why your Gen Z customers aren’t taking action then read on.
Do you understand where they are?
Today’s teens’ primary source of information, entertainment, jobs, news and everything in between is in their pockets and next to them in their beds every day and night. Each week they spend more time on their phones than Gen Y (15.4 hours compared to 14.8) and less time watching television (13.2 hours compared to 14.8). While the difference isn’t huge, it clearly shows the trend for where the younger audience is and where your focus should be; dollars need to be shifted to social media, not television. However, since they are on multiple platforms daily, it’s important to be aware that it’s the visual platforms that appeal mostly to youth.
While Facebook, with 15 million Australian users – three-quarters of which are aged between 18 and 34 – reigns supreme, Snapchat and Instagram are the apps of choice for Gen Z. Snapchat has 4 million users in Australia and 31% of them, the highest share, are 18 to 24-year-olds. Of Instagram’s 5 million user base, 70% are aged between 18 and 34. What is clear is that you shouldn’t be looking for Gen Z on LinkedIn or Google Plus. While between 80% and 90% of small to large Australian businesses have a Facebook page, just 28% of medium-sized businesses use Instagram, dropping to 12% for small businesses, making clear it’s an avenue many are not taking seriously enough. Gen Z will receive thousands of notifications on their phones throughout the course of a month, and yours should be one of them.
Do you know how to connect with them?
Old fashioned marketing doesn’t cut it with Gen Z; edginess is the word that should be soaking every effort you make to connect with them. It’s not a product and a price, it’s a story, and your storytelling needs to be visually engaging. And like a tweet or a Snapchat, your pitch should be short, fast and sweet to be effective with their rapid paced lives and attention spans. Marketing and interacting with the young through Snapchat and Instagram might seem like a bridge too far for those not used to it, but it’s a bridge that needs to be crossed.
Snapchat’s self-destructing messages and stories brought in a totally new form of digital communication and with it, new opportunities for companies to tap into. Unashamedly copying them, recently Facebook-owned Instagram brought in stories as well, which let you craft real life, in-the-moment narratives surrounding your brand. As with YouTube, your videos don’t need to be Spielberg productions, but meaning, heart and authenticity is central to any good story, so find your own voice, make it appealing and broadcast it to the world.
Is your online presence up to scratch?
There was a time when if a teen wanted something, they’d have to nag their parents until they caved in, got in the car, went into a store and laid down the cash on the counter. Now, parents can’t pretend they’re too busy for that because Gen Z just need to wave their phone in their face to show them exactly what they want and get them to punch in their credit card details.
Parents giving pocket money isn’t a new thing, and neither are the parents who indulge every whim of their kids just to see them smile, but what’s changed is how easy it is to spend money. Companies need to be found easily through Google, out there on social media, and the buying experience should be slick and simple from start to finish. If your online presence from social to web to app isn’t harnessing a sweet circle of ease into sealing the deal with your Gen Z customers, then it needs to get easier now.
Do you understand what they want for their futures?
The youth of today want to have fun (who doesn’t when they’re young?), but they also have a serious side and the terms ‘entrepreneurial’ and ‘tech-savvy’ will form the basis of how many will be forging their futures. With their childhoods coinciding with the meteoric rise of Gen Y entrepreneurial giants like Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, today’s teens realistically see work as something they can create themselves from their bedrooms, from their computers and from their own hands.
This is a product of necessity and pure inspiration as the globalised and digitised world has seen the job market and economy rapidly changing. The majority of teens don’t want to be at the coalface; 75% want to turn their hobbies into full-time jobs while 61% want to be an entrepreneur rather than an employee. Help them realise this dream.
Do you know what makes them tick?
Generation Z’s concept of success is different than that of older generations. Apart from being happy, which is top across the board, achieving goals and having a purpose in life are incredibly important to them. Your message should be uplifting and positive and show how you can make their world, and the world in general, a better place.
Young people might get tagged as being selfish with their selfies and endless social media updates, but don’t be fooled – the truth is this generation is altruistic and concerned by the world around them. They are activists, go-getters and big dreamers, and rolled into one it’s a powerful energy to harness. How could they not be? They’ve been plugged in with instant, non-stop updates of all the bad and good things going on across the world their entire lives.
Globalisation has meant that issues are closer to their hearts and closer to home. They have a global outlook. Their own lives matter, too, and helping them move forward in this increasingly complex, interconnected, shapeshifting global society cannot be underlined and emboldened enough. Lend a helping hand and this grip between you both will be long-lasting.
Do you have a cool reputation?
All these things together should really lead you to one point with Gen Z – being cool. Your brand should look modern, be easily available to its customers, have good conversations centred around it, and be making their lives better. Like a school relationship, brands will be easily picked up and ditched if they fall out of favour so don’t fall into the trap of losing that reputation you’ve worked so hard to create. It won’t happen overnight, but sticking to these principles will see your Gen Z customers taking action.