In Thought Leadership

Over the past few years brands have been obsessed with Millennials, specifically learning how to reach and build meaningful connections with them. Millennials have a unique sense of self and a non-traditional approach to life, which has made advertising to them a challenge while positioning them as a prized target.

 

If 2014 was the year of the millennial, 2015 is all about Generation Z. Never knowing a world without the Internet, this group has lived its entire life with instant access to mountains of data on any topic. They’re technologically savvy and are just as likely to spend their time programming video games as they are playing them.

 

According to a report from New York ad agency Sparks & Honey, Gen Z is worth all the hype. Their average weekly allowance is $16.90, which amounts to about $44 billion a year. Even Gen Z members too young to make purchases themselves influence their parents’ buying decisions.

 

All this buying power means that as Gen Z comes of age, brands need to switch up their strategy — and fast.

 

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Successfully getting their attention is going to be a lot more complicated than throwing ads up on Facebook. Experts say Gen Z is completely separate from Millennials, meaning old marketing techniques aren’t gonna do it for the new generation. There are two key factors that brands should keep in mind if they want to target Gen Z: authenticity and a seamless digital experience.

 

Unlike past generations, Gen Z is least likely to believe in the “American Dream.” Growing up during one of the most severe economic recessions in history, they have a sense of social justice, philanthropy and maturity that makes them look for messaging that reflects reality rather than a perfect life. They don’t want another YOLO or ‘swag’ campaign; they’re looking for something that’s authentic and inspiring.

 

aandfBrands like Abercrombie & Fitch, who still project a flawless, carefree, perfect world, are going to have to adjust a lot to reach this generation.

 

Brands must create products and advertising that empower these teens to be their best selves. They must also create places (i.e., stores, websites and social communities) where this generation feels welcome walking and logging in, and feel just as wonderful walking and logging out. Brands that give Gen Z the opportunity to define and express their individuality will be the ones to prosper.

 

Since Gen Z is the first group of people to really grow up with the Internet, social media and digital advertising will still reign king in marketing strategies. However, while millennials only use three screens, Gen Z uses five: a smartphone, TV, laptop, desktop and iPad. They live online, sharing details of their lives and constantly staying up to date on everything.  Because of this, brands must spread their stories seamlessly across in-store, digital and mobile platforms.

 

burberryBurberry is widely praised as a leading example of a brick and mortar store embracing digital.

 

With an estimated 72 million people in this demographic, brands would be wise to broaden their horizons to include Gen Z in their thinking. Brands that can develop strategies that connect with Gen Z’s values AND offer an incredible digital experience will certainly be successful among this new, young, powerful generation.

 

What do you think of Gen Z? Have you already noticed advertising targeted to them? Let us know in the comments below.