My parents used to tell me how cell phones didn’t exist when they grew up and it was much more difficult to contact others. I tell kids that when I was young, cell phones flipped open, didn’t have touch screens, no Wi-Fi and we had to listen to music on CD’s. Then they ask what CD’s are. By the time my niece was 2 years old she could swipe through photos and play videos on a smartphone. These children who were born into modern smart technology are part of Generation Z. They are the future.
Wikipedia describes Generation Z as “the demographic cohort after the Millennials. There are no precise dates for when this cohort starts or ends; demographers and researchers typically use starting birth years ranging from the mid-1990s to the mid-2000s, and as of yet there is little consensus about ending birth years.
They are the world’s first digital natives and marketers need to adapt accordingly. Here’s 5 ways how:
- Avoid Broadcast
Plenty of people I know my age and younger don’t even have cable, they watch all their shows on streaming services like Netflix and Hulu. Statistics show that 90% of Gen Z kids watch YouTube daily, and 70% prefer streaming over broadcast or cable. If you have a commercial targeted to a young demographic, don’t air it on TV because they likely won’t see it. Millennials use three screens on average, but Generation Z uses five. Internet and direct mail are best tactics for Gen Z.
You have eight seconds of their attention. That’s right. The average attention span of a Generation Z customer is less than the ball drop on New Year’s Eve. Pop-up ads that play before YouTube videos allow viewers to click “skip” after ten seconds, which they almost always do. This is why great content creators are in high demand because it’s not easy to tell consumers why they should care about a brand in such a short amount of time. Think of it as you’re trying to help them, not asking them to buy something. They like value.
Let’s say you are watching the Oscars, now you can simultaneously monitor the hash tag #Oscars on Twitter to see what everyone is saying about it in real time. Brands created hash tags like this to promote user interaction. Generation Z kids want to participate. It’s not enough anymore for them to see an ad and remember it, this time they are the brand advocates. The ALS ice bucket challenge was a campaign that went viral entirely through consumer participation and, to no surprise, most of the challengers were young. The key for Gen Z consumers is to give them control.
- Brand Ambassadors
Lots of brands use celebrity spokespeople to generate PR. Everyone remembers William Shatner in the Priceline commercials, Jamie Lee Curtis in Activia, or Ellen Degeneres and Sofia Vergara as Covergirls. But Generation Z kids don’t fall for the halo effect. They like to hear from their peers, people who could be their friends, so marketers recruit brand ambassadors from all over the country to target highly specific and engaged audiences. The fancy word for this is microinfluencing and it’s especially common with cosmetics.
- Instant Gratification
Everything with Generation Z is instant. They can communicate, watch any TV show or movie they want, order food, read an eBook and more all on demand. With their short attention span, when Generation Z wants something, they want it now. Once when I was on Snapchat, I got interrupted by a video ad from Red Bull. It said, “Swipe up to try one of our new flavors on us. Sugar free.” A free drink? Absolutely! I swiped up, typed in my phone number and had a digital coupon for one free Red Bull texted to me. It worked like a charm because it was instant and hassle-free. Marketers should cater to Generation Z this way because they don’t like to be kept waiting. Since they are digital natives, it is easy for them to access an online page when directed. And most importantly, make the process simple.