The generation we are born in helps define who we are as people, and whether you’re a Gen Xer, Millennial, or part of another generation, you likely respond to advertising in a particular way that aligns with that of your peers.
The new kids on the block, Generation Z, is taking that paradigm even further, effectively disrupting the field of digital marketing.
Until recently, Millennials were considered the biggest players in digital marketing. As Gen Zers effectively come of age and enter the workforce en masse, however, they’re poised to upend the industry as we know it. Generation Z encompasses those individuals born between 1995 and 2015.
Gen Zers have always had technology in their lives, and the internet provides their preferred communication and media channels.
They’re also the generation that transformed multitasking into an art form. Further, Gen Z is somewhat of a contradiction as well, completely comfortable with analog forms of communication in lieu of digital channels. This is especially true in the workplace, where they’re swiftly becoming an influential force.
Generation Z on the job
Interestingly, the workplace is the primary avenue where Gen Z feels comfortable enough to unplug. Data indicates that young people actually prefer the analog experience in the workplace.
According to speaker and author Ryan Jenkins, “72 percent of Gen Z workers prefer face-to-face communication at work.” It’s important to note that Gen Z is flooding the workforce at a rapid pace, making up an estimated one-third of the labor pool in 2020. Thus, Generation Z has an influential voice, and many digital marketers are scrambling to keep up.
So what do you need to know to stay ahead of the game in the wake of a massive digital marketing disruption? It’s best to start with a basic understanding of what makes Generation Z tick as well as the preferred communication channels of young people.
Gen Z as trendsetters
Gen Z isn’t like anything that came before. The so-called “digital natives” have quite a bit in common with their boomer ancestors, resulting in an intriguing contradiction of sorts. Inherent Gen Z values that seem to stem from a bygone era include determination, a strong work ethic, and independence. Gen Zers also love to learn new things and to create — everything from knitted scarves to YouTube videos and social media channels.
It makes sense that Gen Z has also helped spawn Influencer culture, a fully unique marketing avenue. Modern influencers set the precedent for trends by promoting a musician, clothing line, or social cause on their personal blog. Influencers may also create videos discussing or demonstrating their favorite products.
Some influencers, such as bona fide celebrities Ariana Grande and Dwayne Johnson, help set trends just by existing and posting on their favorite social media. Among Gen Zers aged 13 through 17, Instagram is the social media platform of choice, used daily by 76% of teens, and Snapchat is right on its heels in popularity.
Influencer culture provides a unique marketing opportunity for creatives looking to think outside the box and convert Gen Z followers into leads. By understanding what it is about particular influencers or channels that makes them stand out, you’re one step closer to reaching a wider audience.
Gen Zers advocating for the planet
Social justice is a major selling point for Gen Z, a large chunk of whom are staunch advocates for the environment, and they would willingly pay more money for sustainable goods. Sustainability is a big business. American consumers are expected to spend roughly $150 billion on sustainable products annually by 2021 reports Nielsen. It’s no surprise that many of those eco-conscious consumers can be counted among the ranks of Generation Z.
Gen Z is helping to fuel the sustainable product revolution, and when coupled with a strong preference for digital interaction, the two provide an ideal avenue for marketers to connect with potential Gen Z consumers. Sustainability has even spawned a social video movement of its own: Sustainable fashion hauls.
Not only are Gen Zers searching for sustainable fashion online by way of video in increasing numbers, they’re also engaging with that content. Data indicates that consumers best respond to videos that are between 10-15 minutes in length.
Gen Z and communication
Gen Z is helping to alter the communications industry, challenging preconceived notions about everything from the best video length to the proper vernacular, and they are constantly changing. You must work to identify and understand the rules behind social media functionality such as hashtag best practices. For example, when utilizing hashtags to grow an audience, it’s a good idea to appeal to the locals as well as the causes they care about.
Adaptability is also an important communication key. Gen Zers demonstrate lighting-speed dexterity as they navigate their smartphone, switching between apps with ease and skill. Today’s young people are experts at multitasking and prefer change to stagnation. Your digital marketing campaign should embody those principles, and you should always prepare for the unexpected.
From disorder to innovation
Disruption is far from a fresh concept in the digital marketing world. Change is constant for digital marketers, and navigating that change is crucial to your success. Along with social media trends, you should also stay on top of advancements in technology that could help you to expand your reach.
The School of Business at Northeastern University reports that new technology influences consumer behavior while also impacting digital marketing efforts. Various tools exist that can help you to better reach your target audience, such as data collection and keyword research performed by Artificial Intelligence. Helpful digital marketing tools also include search term tracking software and the ability to monitor your mentions across various social media platforms.
Generation Z is defined by its commitment to social justice, almost symbiotic relationship with technology, and refreshing transparency. They also rely on technology to help document and support every aspect of their lives from work to leisure. That unique combination proves a challenge to digital marketers, who may be scrambling to keep up with Gen Z.
This guest blog article was written by. Beau Peters, a professional writer with a passion for purpose-driven business content. When he is not writing, he enjoys reading and trying new cooking recipes. Follow him on Twitter @beaupeters7.