In their adolescence, Millennials had the early luxuries of Mapquest, Myspace, and other innovations that were once groundbreaking. These same platforms would now be in close competition with the thousands of other early platforms today. Generation Z has no shortage of consumer platforms to choose from, all the more reason why only quality content survives in today’s digital climate, yet these digital natives aren’t easily impressed.
Now Millennials transition into the parenting crowd and Generation Z stands as the target demo for more brands today.
Goldman Sachs recently stated that “Gen Z matters more than Millennials.” These digital natives—generally classified as consumers born between 1998 and 2008—now represent 22 percent of the U.S. population, putting them right behind millennials (23 percent)
Generation Z has grown up in a truly technology savvy society and as they become the primary focus for most brands, brands still struggle to understand how Z’s truly differ from the consumers of the past and how to connect with them through content.
This growing audience is anti-corporate and anti-brand to say the least. Marketing towards Gen Z has already changed the way companies distribute content and manage customer relationships. They aren’t phased by new technology, they invest their energy in the authenticity of brands.
Here’s how the future of marketing towards the younger demographic involves creating experiences that are personalised, valued, and familiar in communication.
Personalise the journey
Generation Z has spent their earliest days on the internet dodging ad blockers and finessing age-gated websites. Brands try to sell to them every chance they can get, regardless of the platform. With that said, organic content that speaks specifically to them is where the niche lies. Usually this stems from real people.
This audience is poised to avoid content that is from an untrustworthy or unfamiliar source. There is a considerate amount of vetting that must be done when looking to garner a larger Gen Z following. These kids are also major influences within their household, because 93 percent of parents say their Gen Z kids influence family spending decisions and household purchases, according to Cassandra Report.
Content marketers should be quite fond of this dynamic, implying that teens of today are likely to become brand advocates if they like what you’re creating.
Still, no one wants to be seen as the old uncle on Snapchat or the out-of-date rep on Facebook, so be conscious of communicating your brand this way. Gen Z has been seen to resonate with real people who are transparent about their product and the value it brings. This is best done via social influencers or consumer-to-consumer interactions (usually leveraged by the more loyal users).
Most of this audience are social media creators themselves so they’re open to hearing branded messages from others within their mold. Any consumer is more likely to read an article or watch a video when it’s shared from their friend as opposed to the middle aged brand rep speaking in idioms they don’t use elsewhere. Addressing the upcoming generation through content involves interactions with personalized experiences.
Visual and valuable
Gen Z is said to have an attention span of 8 seconds, according to Fast Co.
You have less time than a Snapchat story to engage this audience, which is why the best digital content have evolved to incorporate visual elements. Some call this the microwave generation but if your content is deemed valuable, users will spend the time digesting it and more time sharing it with a friend. We can’t forget that this same audience is popular for watching hours of Twitch or avidly following YouTube influencers.
With that said, visual content is a priority for forward-thinking marketers who are looking to win against Gen Z’s short attention span and their disdain with valueless content.
Visual content is more than 40X more likely to get shared on social media than other types of content — according to Buffer
Using graphics and visual content to accompany your written message in an effort to attract and keep loyal users. Everything from infographics to GIFs on social media are visual, short-winded ways of sharing information. Even the way we read information online is becoming more of an experience, long-form articles are inundated with images and links. Previously, written content was the go-to way to share information with your ready audience but when it comes to the younger demographic, information can be better digested when it’s seen. As more platforms adapt their product to make way for visual content (longer videos, hosting GIFs, etc.), marketers are sure to take advantage. Some brands are even trying virtual or augmented reality experiences to engage the younger buyers of today.
The emphasis on providing visual content that is valuable is no secret and a prioritized strategy for digital companies. Brands are heavily investing in visual content production. Even Facebook, who host 67 percent of older Gen Zers among other social networks, has a tool called Slideshow that automatically creates a montage reel from your video library for you to share.
Gen Z wants to see value and they want to see it up front. The future of Gen Z content is focused on visual assets that communicate your brand’s purpose and provides valuable information that prospects can take away.
Communication is key and when marketing to Generation Z, it’s important to communicate your value in a way that your customers would prefer. Many companies do this by actually speaking through influencers to separate the message from the brand itself. Although user-generated content is another way to communicate value to an alike audience.
As technology advances, marketing will be pushed to become more innovative. Today we can talk to our customers via live chat, voice, social media, video, and even text messaging. All forms of communication can be applied in the right situation. Generation Z tends to favor natural messaging and the best teams use data will identify which forms they like best.
Social media is the new home for customer service because it’s a frictionless way for customers to resolve a problem and reach a real human on the other side. But other industries are subject to using other ways of talking to their audience. Location-based alerts will be the next strategy that brands focus on expanding. It’s already apparent through app notifications, like a Lyft or OpenTable for example. Banking innovation is full steam ahead given that this industry usually communicates through one-to-one interactions. Fintech services are already successful with text alerts ﹣imagine getting coupons through text or even financial decisions like, “Hey, take a day off from your favorite coffee shop,” based on the store you’re in.
Generation Z is an audience that has matured in a time where everything is connected digitally, today’s consumers are already an influencer or expert. Their relationship with technology is a norm in today’s society so your product will need much more than a generic marketing approach. The future of marketing towards the younger demographic has to involve a personalised experience with visual and timely communication.
Dennis is the Content Marketing Manager at Augment, where he’s active in building content to grow digital communities.