For a long time “Millennial” was the buzzword of, well, the millennium and marketers put great effort into understanding and developing a general persona for this powerful segment. After all, Millennials were shaping the future of digital, ushering in a whole new era of AirBnBing and Ubering everywhere.
Marketers thought they knew everything there was to know about this important segment with increasingly substantial buying power. But, as with any demographic, there wasn’t a one-size-fits-all truth, which meant sub-segmenting and experimentation. Worse, just as we started to get our heads around who was what and what was who - Millennials grew up.
Enter Generation Z, the authentic obscurists, the dreamers and environmentalists. A whole new, liberal and complex generation - and marketers were... shook. Today, there are over 17 million millennials in the UK and their younger counterparts (Gen Z) are swiftly outnumbering them. Incidentally, Gen Z is also the biggest content consumer, meaning they’re most likely to be listening to what your brand is saying online.
Should we focus on Gen Z over Millennials?
It seems like every day we read another article about how Millennials are killing another industry. But Millennials are in their late 20’s and early 30’s, and they are no longer the largest generation. Gen Z already commands $44 billion in spending power and is a larger generation than their predecessors. Marketing to them is marketing for the future.
Gen Z grew up with social media as a fact of life, and they consume more online content than any other generation. So, while Millennials are still an important segment for most brands, if you're not factoring a Gen Z audience into your marketing strategy, you're missing out.
So, what are the best ways to target Gen Zers?
Gen Z is the video generation. They log more time on YouTube than they do on TV. They grew up having watched independent channel creators make incredible videos, and they gravitate towards great video quality. They're also major adopters on SnapChat and TikTok, and spend countless hours a day scrolling their curated feeds and often creating their own content.
By engaging with this user generated content, you can also capitalise on it - by creating campaigns on your social channels that showcase viewer posts. Just be sure to get their permission or to make it part of the ask for entering competitions, etc. While millennials opened the gateway for this love of visually driven social media by becoming the Instagram generation, Gen Z customers have taken it to new heights.
As a result, Gen Z is probably the most visual generation that markets have ever had to contend with. They’re watching videos all the time, especially by their favourite influencer, and they want them to be impactful, beautiful and geared towards them.
Gen Z is looking to buy from brands that feel like friends. They love brands that are on trend, that speak with a consistent voice, and that have a personalized message. Even in the career space, they're more easily recruited with personalised requests (LinkedIn) and engage with relatable content that understands trendiness without trying too hard. They don’t want clunky brands that come across as desperate or inauthentic.
Personalizing a message for an entire generation is no small task, to be sure. But it can be done in small ways. Break your audience down and market to groups within the whole. Gen Z girls between 12-18 is an easier group to market to. You could also refine your thinking down to targeting young men between the ages of 18 and 24 who are interested in a specific niche. If you categorise by age group, you can start to refine your efforts - but of course, there are always psychographic and geographic elements at play too.
Gen Z shops in stores much more than Millennials. This ties in with their love of personalization. They go to stores for the unique experiences they can have there, as opposed to staring at the same website that everyone else sees. This is not to say they don't interact with e-commerce but a day out could involve a trip to your store with friends, and becomes an activity rather than a necessity.
They also want to connect with the brands they’re supporting; being in stores and able to talk to employees, touch the items, and immersing themselves in the experience matters to them. As a result, there are some interesting opportunities for ways to merge marketing campaigns with in-store experiences.
If you have a brick and mortar business, look to engage Gen Z there. Use your storefront to your advantage and promote your individual offerings via classes, events and in-store specials.
This is also a great way to cater to those who don't have the attention span to read through long articles online. So, for example, if you run the marketing for a wellness studio, you could invite fans to a once-off yoga class or in-store market.
At the end of the day, there's room for both
Gen Z will have the most purchasing power in the market in the next few years, and it’s a lead they will likely command for years after that. Marketing plans need to include Gen Z targets, as well as millennials, to stay relevant and to keep business booming.
The good news is, there are platforms and areas in which the two power segments overlap, but it also pays to look at them as individual groups and define personas within those segments to increase engagement. After all, in a world where personalisation is becoming increasingly important, there's little room for painting whole segments with the same brush.
Invest some time and thought into understanding these markets and you'll be well on your way to future proofing your brand and reaping the benefits. As always, it's important to combine what's relevant now with a more long-term strategy and understanding of a new generation.
This article originally appeared in Due, it was written by Kara Perez from Business2Community, and is legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.