The wants and needs of Generation Z (and why marketers should take note)

Generation Z comprise a quarter of the UK population, which makes them an enormously important market. In the US alone, they have $44 billion of buying power. Problem is, scores of marketers and brands haven’t a clue how to engage with them.

First things first. There have been generational labels flying about for decades, so I wouldn’t be surprised if you didn’t know who Generation Z were. Born sometime between the late 1990s and early 2000s, Generation Z are the world’s first digital generation. They’ve only experienced a world in which mobiles and iPods are permanently attached to our hands, and any question we have can usually be answered by Google. And they are just as likely to know how to programme a video game as to play it.

We need to understand these digital natives before we can try and engage with them, and to understand them, we need to know what they want.

So, just what is it that this tech savvy cohort is after?

Engagement, not ads

Ad-blocking has reached an all-time high. Modern consumers have lost patience with interruption advertising and Gen Zers in particular can smell BS from a mile away. They see traditional ads as bogus. They expect you to build a relationship with them. They want to be able to engage with brands in the same way they engage with friends — chatting online, especially on social media.

arketers can initiate and maintain two-way conversations by asking and answering questions, and by liking, sharing and commenting on the updates and insights of others. Create a social presence that Gen Zers can connect with.

But be quick about it

The average attention span for Gen Zers is 8 seconds, down from 12 seconds in 2000. These are people who communicate using abbreviations and emojis. They’ve grown up being fed huge amounts of information on a constant basis. They’ve learned how to filter through the noise and find what is relevant to them.

So if you want Gen Zers to click on your blog post, watch your video or like your photo, you need to tell them in 8 seconds what your content is about and why they should care. That’s about as long as it took to read that sentence.

Personality — and personalisation

Gen Zers want to be treated like individuals, not numbers. They’ve grown up in a digital world that is highly personalised, characterised by online searches and web filters that direct them to exactly the item or information they want. Gen Zers want brands that respect their uniqueness by delivering personalised service and products tailored to their exact needs and wants.

But they also expect those brands to be personable and familiar too. They’re interested in companies that have a “face” and a relatable and accessible personality. Your marketing needs to showcase that.

Consumerism with a cause

Gen Zers are do-gooders keen on making the world a better place. Digital media has exposed them to the problems of the world at a younger age, leading them to become more mature than their predecessors and see themselves as a solution to some of those problems. According to a survey by Mashable, 26% of 16-to-19-year-olds volunteer regularly, 60% want their jobs to impact the world, and 76% have concerns about the effects humanity is having on the planet. They’re idealistic and interested in brands with high integrity.

Marketers can find ways of making their companies and brands part of a greater purpose, and of contributing to a larger goal. Show that you are committed to a cause and the Gen Zers will love you for it.