Connecting to Gen Z

Move over, Millennials! Generation Z is here.

Who are they?

Born between 1996 and 2010, the oldest of the Centennials will begin to graduate college and enter the workforce in the coming years, and heads are turning towards these post-millennials. The question is, how will they change the playing field?

Not to be lumped in with Millennials, this younger generation is distinctly different, from their sense of identity to their use of technology. Unlike their older siblings, Gen Z is a more independent group of individuals while also being the most globally connected generation ever.

Having grown up during and after the Great Recession, this group of kids is set to be more realistic and hard working than their predecessors, with a more acute awareness of environmental and social issues. They are the largest and most diverse generation alive, outnumbering Millennials by about a million. The race to connect with them - as both consumers and employees - is on.

Technology as Communication

To these digital natives, technology is a second language. The dramatic changes brought on by the digital age are facts of life to them and have altered the way they think, learn, and absorb information. While Millennials created text-based interfaces like instant messaging and texting, Gen Z communicates through images. Opting for social media platforms like Instagram and Snapchat over Facebook, these young consumers pick up information in a matter of seconds.

For an effective marketing strategy, learn to speak their language.

If you’re not on social media, take the time to set up a few accounts - they are an invaluable tool, not to mention that they come at no cost! Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Snapchat are used by millions of Americans, primarily under the age of 30. This summer, McDonald’s used Snapchat to recruit and hire 250,000 employees via “snaplication,” where an applicant could submit a 10-second video to the fast food company explaining why they would be a good candidate for a job. The move was curated to target their largest applicant age bracket and social media users: 16 to 22 year olds.

5 ways to effectively build your brand and market to Centennials:

  1. Entertain them - short bursts of information will grab their attention and allow them to instantly process what they’ve just seen. The average attention span of a person has dropped to 8 seconds, so make short and sweet to get your point across.

  2. A picture is worth a thousand words! If you can get your message across using images or video rather than text, it’ll garner interest and have more of an impact in those few seconds.

  3. Use multiple media channels - Gen Z’ers are pros at multitasking and using multiple screens at once. From LinkedIn to Pinterest, if they’re there, you should be too!

  4. Appeal to their curiosity and emphasize the value of your product or service. Many of them grew up in a household that suffered from the financial crash, so they want to know that their money is being spent well.

  5. Recognize their diversity and independence to make your content more relatable (and memorable) to Gen Z. Get to know your target audience and make it personal. If it feels more like a friendship rather than a producer-consumer relationship, you will be rewarded with their loyalty.

When it comes to staying relevant with the next gen, social media and tech are key. These teens take in information in a split second and lose interest just as fast, so having an impactful message in a few seconds is essential to your marketing brand.