Now that the youngest members of the Millennial generation - long a primary demographic focus for marketers -have entered the workforce, the next generation in our human continuum is coming of age.
We’re not just marketing to the “Me Generation” anymore - marketers meet Gen Z, the generation of tolerance and inclusion. And its oldest members are just now entering the workforce, Generation Z was born between approximately 1995 and 2010.
Millennials - aka Gen Y - have been around for long enough for brands to develop a thorough understanding of what drives their purchasing behaviors - but what about the next generation?
The outstanding attribute of Gen Z, the demographic cohort that directly follows Millennials, is that they're the first generation that has never known a world not teeming with technology. Gen Z has grown up entirely in an era of smartphones, tablets and social media. Alternate names for this group - iGeneration, Gen Tech, Gen Wii - acknowledge this defining trait.
If you're planning a marketing campaign aimed at this group, it’s important to know what separates them from previous demographic subsets. This means not only getting to know how they best like to communicate, and which channels of communication they prefer, but also the other subtle, yet key differences between Gen Z and Millennials that have to be acknowledged in planning an effective marketing strategy.
How Gen Z Differs From Millennials
There's been much discussion over the years about the characteristics of the Millennial or Me Generation, and what distinguishes them from their predecessors. Generation X, for example, were more known for their confidence and their love of experience over consumption - but in what ways does Generation Z most markedly differ from Millennials?
This is a crucial question for marketers to answer as Gen Z is poised to outnumber Millennials by the end of 2019. An in-depth understanding of the forces that drive this generation and its purchasing decisions is well worth knowing.
In general, there's an overarching theme of authenticity with this generation. Hallmarks include a need for individual expression, coupled with a bent toward “radical inclusion.” They're far more tolerant of individual differences and preferences than their predecessors - this difference in worldview is especially obvious in their attitudes about gender fluidity, but extend to just about every other characteristic or personal choice. Gen Z just wants you to do you.
Gen Z also makes friends both in-person and online, and tends to give each type of friendship equal weight. Imagine the implications of this for influencer marketing - this tendency explains why authentic interactions between Influencers and fans are so important these days, influencers are truly becoming more and more like friends. Gen Z is even more likely than Millennials to search for products and services via social media, and they seek out trusted sources to guide them in their process.
While Millennials - or Gen Y - famously prefer paying for experiences - like say, a trip to Machu Picchu - the more pragmatic Gen Z would rather have cool stuff in hand, where they can see it. In yet another nod to their pragmatism, Gen Z is also less likely to do freelance work than Gen Y, preferring steady full-time employment.
To help make sense of all the particulars about Gen Z, we’ve made a list of some of the most important traits to consider when marketing to this audience, along with relevant information about what they mean to you as a marketer.