Make Way for Marketing to Generation Z
Earlier this month, EGC Insights posted feedback from some members of the company on what it's like to be in the millennial (a.k.a. Generation Y) age group. Lately, there have been some noteworthy findings in relation to forecasts in marketing. We already know about the audiences for Generation X and Y. These latest findings concern the consumers of tomorrow. You guessed it – Generation Z.
Flashback: How Generations X and Y Revolutionized Advertising
Have you ever stopped to think of how it seemed like only yesterday when strategies were created (and adjusted, as needed) to attract and appeal to the age groups that were dubbed Generation X and Generation Y? The common denominator for both groups was the influence of the Internet. Everything from email to social media platforms to online video were (and remain) the go-to method of communication for information on everything they needed – including information provided by advertisements.
What Makes Generation Z Different
First, consider some trends that are exclusive to Generation Z (who are in the age bracket of 16 to 19 years of age). For instance, the traditional “School Fairs” of yesteryear, where colleges and professional schools set up tables with banners and brochures to get the attention of high school seniors has been supplemented by digital recruitment. And, those students who are do go on to college are finding out about their acceptance to a school via Snapchat. These two examples perfectly illustrate the changes that accompany advances in technology. And it should be noted that these changes have as much to do with the attitude of this younger generation as they do with getting information via mobile instead of snail-mail.
What Marketers Should Keep in Mind
Before we know it, Generation Z will join (and in time, displace) Generations X and Y as being the largest consumer audience. And, while these young people will be the consumers of tomorrow, their presence (and preferences) are being noticed now. Greg Sterling, writing for Marketing Land, recently summarized a study that was conducted by marketing research company Kantar Millward Brown: “In general…there’s no ‘one size fits all’ approach that will work equally well for each generational audience segment. And while many attitudes are consistent across generations, the report argues that Gen Z is the most difficult for marketers to reach and engage.” In support of these findings, Lucy Handley reported for CNBC that a global 50 percent of Generation Z are likely to avoid advertising altogether. They are probably avid users of ad blocker technology, and actively bypass content. Ms. Handley states, “To reach them, brands would do best to use humor, rather than celebrities, in their advertising,” and concludes, “…the only real way forward is for brands to create content that will stop Gen Z in their tracks.”
How to Avoid Rating a Zero with Generation Z
Once again, marketers are presented with a challenge in catering and attracting what can be called “the audience of the future.” It is a challenge, but not an obstacle. The operative words in Ms. Handley’s last quote – “…stop Gen Z in their tracks” should be considered a marketing mantra. (This saying applies to attracting any audience, and in time, the term ‘Gen Z’ will be replaced with something else.)
One type of advertising that might engage this age group is – believe it or not – traditional advertising. According to Mr. Sterling, Generation Z is more inclined to view traditional ads (e.g., print, television commercials) than digital formats. (One theory is that online ads are considered more intrusive, thus bothersome, to these young people who don’t want to be interrupted when they are engaged on their mobile devices.) Additionally, they prefer interesting (and humorous) stories where content unfolds, unrushed and without any high-pressure to make a purchase.
What are the Solutions?
With that criteria in mind, native advertising (which is distinguishable in that it is not disruptive), in addition to “influencers” (not celebrities, but relatable everyday people) are two types of advertising that would appeal to Generation Z. Who knows? Maybe a whole new field of opportunities to attract this younger group of consumers will inspire a new era of content creation.
As times change, so do the tastes and trends of how people relate, communicate, and engage. This is especially true in advertising. And, as stated previously, catering to and attracting a new audience may be a challenge, but is never an impossibility.
(Interesting question to ponder: Now that Generation Z closes out the alphabet, what will the next generation be named?)