What Millennials? Getting to Know Generation Z (iGeneration) and their Online Habits

Ever since the turn of the 20th century, it has become common practice to give each successive generation of people a new nickname. Millennials were the latest such demographic cohort, but their time in the limelight is about to come to an end. The eyes of the public are now increasingly turning their attention to individuals born after 1995, who are commonly called “Generation Z”.

While there is still an ongoing debate regarding the name (other suggestions include “iGeneration”, “Digital Natives”, “Plurals”, “Post-Millennials”, and even “Deltas”), few people are willing to contest the rising prominence of Gen Z on the world’s historical stage.

In the US, Gen Z makes up about 26% of the population. Their spending power is sitting between $29 and $143 billion, which makes them a valuable demographic for businesses. However, as most companies are finding out, appealing to Gen Z might not be as simple as it sounds.

The generation gap between people running businesses and Gen Z consumers is wide enough to cause frequent misunderstandings. Old methods for attracting consumer attention no longer seem to work, and it is difficult to figure out which of the myriad new ones are effective.

To bring some clarity to the matter, we have decided to write a short primer on the topic. Within it you will find what makes Gen Z different from previous generations, and how you can leverage this knowledge to create more effective digital marketing campaigns.

 

A Preference for Mobile Browsing

Gen Z has grown up surrounded by digital technology from a very early age. Smartphones in particular seem to have become their gadget of choice, more so than personal computers. This preference for portable devices has led companies to adopt a mobile-first approach when creating marketing content for Gen Z. In terms of web design, this puts even more focus on creating sites that render well on smaller screens, and are easy to navigate by means of a touchscreen interface. Location-based advertising is another trend that is tied to the increasing importance of browsing the web while on the move.

 

Instagram and Snapchat as the Social Media Platforms of Choice

Companies usually make the mistake of conflating millennials and Gen Z when it comes to their social media habits. While millennials have a preference for networks such as Facebook and Twitter, members of Gen Z favor Instagram, Snapchat, and other platforms that are native on mobile devices. People from Gen Z tend to use social networks for casual chatting and posting ephemeral content, which is something Instagram and Snapchat are ideally suited for with their emphasis on content expiration. Marketing to Gen Z through social media therefore requires more involvement on part of companies – constant updates, short-form entertainment, and a causal tone are now the order of the day. This means that you will need to brush up on your social media knowledge, and come up with completely new ways to market yourself there.

 

A Frugal Approach to Finance

Gen Z has been growing up during the time of the Great Recession. While they were too young to experience its consequences directly, they still felt the impact it had on their households. With less money to go around, members of Gen Z have grown to develop a frugal financial attitude. From a business perspective, this means that people from Gen Z are always on the lookout for discounts and sales. Ecommerce outfits are leveraging this fact by providing dedicated sales sections on their websites in an attempt to quickly grab the attention of Gen Z consumers.

 

Supporting Causes

Gen Z is very vocal about the causes it supports. If they feel that a company is acting in a way that goes against their beliefs, they will quickly abandon it in favor of alternatives that are more in line with their values. This means that businesses are often forced to walk on thin ice, lest they risk alienating significant portions of their target audience. To be more specific, Gen Z is more likely to support companies that present themselves as being inclusive, multi-cultural, and eco-friendly. This means that companies ought to promote these values while producing content for branding purposes.

 

Predilection for Self-Service

Gen Z is increasingly skeptical about the value of formal education. Rising college fees and a lack of guaranteed long-term employment is pushing them towards alternative means of education, such as self-learning and free online courses. In other words, members of Gen Z have a preference for doing things on their own – the less intermediaries the better. This has created a new trend for self-service. Websites, apps, and products that give the option to do everything on your own go over well with Gen Z audiences. It is all about giving them the tools to do the work on their own, instead of doing it in their stead.

 

Personalized Marketing

Campaigns that target the largest possible audience with a generic sales pitch are a thing of the past as far as Gen Z is concerned – they’ve seen it all already in virtue of being connected online from the day they were born. To make an impression on someone from Gen Z, you have to provide a personalized experience. Contrary to popular belief, consumers from Gen Z are not averse to digital advertising, but they do expect it to be useful for their particular needs and desires. Modern digital marketing techniques such as creating targeted landing pages, publishing persona-driven content, and providing personal replies on social media are now a necessity.

 

Gamification

If there is one thing that Gen Z loves more than to browse the internet, it is to play video-games. The video-game industry now has a bigger turnover than Hollywood, which makes this a really lucrative field for companies to dabble in. This does not mean that all companies should start developing games. Rather, what they ought to be doing is making sure their services become more game-like in nature. We are already seeing some of this in features such as progress bars, level-up mechanics, virtual currencies, and AR marketing events. The trick to gamification is to create a structured experience where consumers can reach predefined milestones based on their activities, which enables them to reap different kinds of benefits.

 

Conclusion

It is only a matter of time before Gen Z becomes the dominant social force on the market. When the time comes, companies that have managed to establish a positive relationship with these individuals will be able to reap substantial rewards in terms of profits, brand awareness, and authority. And in order to get there, they will have to start using marketing tactics specifically suited to Gen Z tastes. We hope that our guide can provide a small contribution towards this goal.

 

Author Bio

This article was provided by Michael Deane, Small Business Consultant at Qeedle.

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