Generation Z, with their mystifying humor, overly honest TikToks, and acute political and social awareness, accounts for 40% of all customers in the U.S. Born between 1996 and 2010, they have grown up with access to technology and the internet. This is the clear differentiator between previous generations and Gen Z, with many attributing Gen Z’s weakened attention span to their smartphones and the internet. Beyond their vast internet usage compared to previous generations, their priorities as consumers have diverged from those of their predecessors. This shift has plenty of implications for marketing practices in 2021.
Gen Z and the internet have become one and the same. The World Wide Web has become a refuge for their hobbies, social lives, and even careers. With more than 74% of Gen Z spending their free time online, social media advertising and digital marketing are vital to targeting Gen Z and getting them to engage with your product or service.
However, it’s important to remember that Generation Z uses various platforms for different reasons. A study by Response Media revealed that Instagram is used to show users’ aspirational selves, Twitter is primarily a source of news, and Facebook is used to glean information. YouTube, however, is the most widely used platform of them all, with Gen Z preferring video content as a source of authentic connection above other forms of media.
As of 2019, TikTok has been on the rise as a platform for consuming and creating short videos. With 1.5 billion downloads in 150 countries, the app has grown exponentially. This growth can be attributed to TikTok’s features, as they allow Gen Z to be authentic while also gaining virality.
Transparency, accountability, and action
The abundance of information Gen Z has grown up with has allowed them to make highly informed decisions––especially when it comes to their purchases. They are able to sift through information quickly and filter out irrelevant data. This means companies are really being held responsible for their mistakes. Gen Z looks for businesses that are transparent and aware of their social impact. They want companies’ words to be followed by sizable social, economic, and environmental action. Ultimately, authenticity is what builds Gen Z’s trust in businesses.
Gen Z, accustomed to the best of platform algorithms, are looking for brands who offer personalized experiences, content, and ads. This type of customized communication can come in the form of rewards programs (e.g. birthday discounts) and gated content. Doing so can have a large impact on business profitability, as gated content reportedly makes Gen Z feel special, more excited, and more rewarded.
Gen Z’s ability to maneuver the internet from multiple devices has rendered them more informed, and yet more desensitized to traditional ads. This means Gen Z pays the most attention to relevant, personalized, and attention-grabbing content. As such, marketers should focus on creating digestible, authentic, and visually oriented content that shows the complete alignment of a brand’s words with their actions.