Every generation is grouped according to the time its members were born, but for years now, there's been an ongoing debate about the specific cutoff point between Millennials and Generation Z. The United Nations data marks the years 2000/2001 as the intergenerational split, while other researchers define it earlier, around 1995 to 1997.
Gen Z, also called iGeneration and Post-Millennials, is the demographic cohort following the Millennials and is set to overtake them in terms of headcount by next year. According to the Bloomberg analysis, Gen Z will account for nearly a third of the 2019 global population at 2.47 billion, surpassing the estimated 2.43 billion millennials in the world.
Because of the vague delineation between the two generations, marketers often make the mistake of using similar strategies in selling to each of these groups. They forget that Gen Z'ers are vastly different from millennials in terms of formative experiences, including world events, economic changes, social shifts, and primarily, technological advancements.
One thing that separates Gen Z'ers from their predecessors is their exposure to digital technology in their early years. Thanks to mobile devices and fast Internet services, many Gen Z'ers grew up with apps, social media, and constant online presence. Sometimes referred to as the post-digital generation, they have an intuitive relationship with technology.
Surprising Statistics About Gen Z
Gen Z'ers have a complicated relationship with digital technology, despite growing up with its ubiquity. Based on an UNiDAYS and Ad Age Studio 30 study of 22,700 college students, 98 percent have smartphones. Of these, only 22 percent have used their devices for purchasing online, unlike millennials who rely on the ease and convenience of mobile shopping.
The digitally savvy generation has, in fact, a few, quirky analog habits. This includes their preference for personal interactions with brands, as Gen Z'ers are 23 percent more likely to visit malls and physical stores compared to older generations. This unexpected trend from the recent Foursquare and Carat study has prompted retailers to integrate the brick-and-mortar experience with tech features like augmented reality and self-service.
Technology adoption comes easy to Gen Z'ers, so it’s not surprising to know that many of them have social media accounts. But what is surprising is the fact that the majority, or 59 percent of those surveyed, are distrustful of Facebook with their personal data, perhaps in light of the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
The post-digital generation is also not as preoccupied with social media as they’re depicted to be. Gen Z'ers are more likely to be anxious or depressed over these platforms, which can cause them to consider taking a break from social media or quitting altogether. They have become increasingly selective and wary of oversharing on social networks but still believe in its role in establishing connections and developing relationships.
How to Actually Market to Gen Z
When it comes to marketing strategies, what works for a particular generation might not fly with younger or older cohorts. Compared to the Baby Boomers and the lure of mass marketing during their time, the tech-savvy Gen Z has probably seen the old tricks and usual come-ons of brands when it comes to selling. One way to entice these true digital natives is through effective communication online.
Much like their need to be constantly connected to others, Gen Z'ers appreciate brands that reach out to their clients and engage with them. An online presence, be it on social media or through email, is necessary when businesses choose to cater to the post-digital generation. According to the UNiDAYS study, 40 percent of surveyed Gen Zers prefer to communicate with brands via email.
However, this doesn’t mean that brands should stick to email correspondence, as it often lacks interaction and feels impersonal. Gen Z'ers are searching for relevant exchange and emotional approach in marketing through social media—given that it’s on the right platform. If businesses can evoke a sense of purpose behind their brand or an experience with a product, then it’s the first step in making themselves noticed by the younger, more discriminating generation.
There’s no one single marketing solution applicable to every generation. Marketers should realize that for them to touch base with Gen Z, they must maintain a human, two-way interaction, even if it’s online. While Gen Z'ers exhibit ambivalent behavior towards social media, marketers and brands alike should learn how to get their message across effectively. Understanding the younger audience is going beyond selling the product; it also means discovering how they feel about your brand and earning their loyalty in the process.