When it comes to consumers, time never stands still. After years and years spent debating the characteristics of generation Y and then on how to approach them, it is already time to meet the next set of customers, who have been designated by the last letter of the alphabet: generation Z. Who are they? Where do they live? What do they like? And, more importantly, how should your company relate to these new consumers?
You may consider it a little premature to even begin asking this question. After all, it will still take a while for generation Y’s reign to come to an end, or even to weaken. But companies always have to remember that these days, the market is so fluid that changes have been happening at an unprecedented rate. The sooner you and your company become familiar with this new generation of consumers, the better.
Getting to know the new generation
But what about the generation Z? According to an article that was published in AdWeek, the young people who make up this new set of potential customers could not be more different from their predecessors. The problem is that marketers already have misconceptions regarding possible approaches to this audience, and we’ll discuss why here.
However, first let’s find out who the new consumers are. While Generation Y consisted of people born from the early 1980s to the mid-1990s, Generation Z is made up of people born from 1995 until 2010.
First and foremost, it is, essentially, a digital generation. They can be considered digital natives, as they were born after the creation of the Internet (which occurred in the mid-1990s) and amid an explosion in technological devices. This generation’s consumers are completely accustomed to a vast range of tech and media options, including television channels, internet, video games, smartphones, etc.
So, Generation Z is a consummately connected group. Not only do they have free access to their home networks, but they also have smartphones and other online gadgets, and they interact digitally with a naturalness that hasn’t been seen before in previous generations. Among their leading characteristics, we can find in Generation Z is a profound understanding of technology; the ability to perform many tasks at the same time; social openness to technologies; speed and impatience; interactivity; resilience, and others.
What does your company need to know about Generation Z?
As we have noted, these characteristics are already beginning to sow confusion among marketing professionals. This is because there have attributes that differ significantly from the Y Generation, and, as can be expected, at first brands have not differentiated much between the two publics.
However, in the same article in AdWeek, we found some invaluable tips that could help your company to meet the needs and demands of these new consumers with greater success. First, here is a list of four principal points regarding the people who make up the Generation Z:
- 1. They want to work to become successful, not to be discovered;
- 2. They believe that equality is non-negotiable;
- 3. They want brands to be authentic so that they can be unique;
- 4. Have their own system of rules and etiquette on the use of social media.
A generation oriented towards success and social issues
The article also brings some invaluable insight into these new consumers. Perhaps the most telling is that the Generation Z is very focused on success. According to research conducted by the US marketing and ad agency, Barkley, in partnership with the FutureCast Institute, more than half (53%) of the adolescents who were interviewed agreed that personal success is the most important thing in life – almost 10% more than in generation Y (46%).
On the other hand, social causes are also highly significant for these new young people. Access to education was the most important factor, i.e. 75% of respondents saw more accessible means of education as the most important point, followed closely by racial equality (72%). Gender equality (64%) and alleviating poverty (62%) came in just behind.
A message for your company: be authentic so new consumers see themselves as unique
Generation Z’s consumers also expect brands to take up the issues and causes they advocate. When asked whether they would “support brands that back the social initiatives that I advocate,” 60 percent of teens interviewed agreed – a slightly lower rate than Generation Y, yet still highly significant.
What’s more, they expect brands to be, above all, real and diverse in their communications and their marketing efforts. Proof of this can be seen in data presented in the report:
- 77% of respondents like advertising segments that show real people in real situations;
- 65% do not like ads that make life look perfect;
- 61% like advertising that shows diverse families.
The last, and perhaps most important, point you need to know about Generation Z: they take ‘uniqueness’ very seriously. Having one’s own, unique, identity is, for the new consumers, fundamental; they absolutely insist on differentiating themselves. And they expect brands to provide the tools they need to make that happen.
Proof of this is the number of respondents that “would pay extra for a product that is consistent with the image they want to convey”: 49%, versus 43% of millennials.
>> Recommended reading: Trends defining the composition a high-performance team
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