Forget Millennials, Here Comes Generation Z

Just when you thought you grasped how to talk to the Millennials, Generation Z started to arrive. Born between 1996 and 2010, this new generation is poised to disrupt the retail and business world as the Millennial generation starts to enter middle age.

Fearfully known as “Millennials on Steroids,” Generation Z thought leaders, who are Gen Zers themselves, have outright said that if you market to them like you market to Millennials, you’re playing a losing game. There’s a reason why summer jobs are struggling to be filled even as 72 million kids and teens of this new generation march into adulthood.

Branding is a trait brought on by Generation Z who grew up on image-heavy platforms like Instagram and Snapchat. They have personal websites and they create businesses because that’s what they do – start businesses instead of getting part-time jobs.

This super-Internet-savvy generation doesn’t think twice about creating a business, outsourcing work through freelance websites and consulting to major industries from airlines to telecommunications to just about any company listed on Fortune 500.

These are the more entrepreneurial Generation Z’s but they are a gateway into what the future might look like, even if the future is uncertain. In fact, many of them realize that what’s here today could easily be irrelevant tomorrow.

How do you market to a generation embracing the notion of an ever-changing world?

Deep Patel, who is a teenager, a Forbes contributor and a major influencer for Generation Z, offered some advice:

  • Create value – No one likes watching ads. This isn’t new – it’s one of the main reasons Tivo was so successful 15 years ago (before most of Generation Z was born). Products need to add value to their lives.

Patel adds, “They want resources, channels and profiles that give them what they’re looking for, whether that is entertainment, knowledge or tutorials. If you put too many gates in front of them, they won’t even bother complaining. They’ll just move on and find the next great resource.”

  • Your website has body language – If it looks old, it is old, and if you’re an industry leader you must look the part. You may have amazing content to share but if you’re not giving off the right vibe, your audience will likely think your message is irrelevant.
  • Be Responsive – Your content must work across ALL devices. Millennials bounce between three different screens; Generation Z uses five: smartphone, TV, laptop, desktop and tablet.
  • They are citizens of the world – Generation Z wants to be the change. According to a study by Marketo, 60% of Generation Z want their jobs to impact the world and 76% are concerned about humanity’s impact on the planet. They are online very frequently because it’s where their friends are – both local friends and connections from all over the world made on social platforms.

Generation Z wants to be engaged and not marketed to. They want value and it’s important that they see the real world impact your company makes.

Don’t be afraid that Generation Z is the most technologically advanced generation – every generation was the most technologically advanced until the next one came along. As generational shifts occur, it is crucial to align your marketing with their needs as traditional forms of marketing will tend to fall on deaf ears.

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