It’s taken a long time, but industries are becoming increasingly more aware and comfortable with who millennials are, what they want, and their behaviors.
But what about “Generation Z,” the generation born after millennials that is emerging as the next big thing for market researchers, cultural observers and trend forecasters?
Born between 1997 and 2011, Gen Z is now coming of age in large numbers. These tweens and teens of today are primed to become the dominant youth influencers of tomorrow and marketers can’t afford to take as long to come to grips with Gen Z as they did with millennials. The danger for marketers is that Gen Z is different in distinct ways.
Growing up at a time of financial crisis, Gen Z are frugal and brand wary, but they are also industrious, collaborative, and they expect transparency at their fingertips.
While millennials wanted personalization in their media and advertising experiences, attempts at hyper-personalization often come off to Gen Z as intrusive. Ironically, while Gen Z places a great emphasis on personal privacy, they expect brands to be fully transparent. Gen Z not only challenge how brands communicate, they challenge the very notion of a brand’s authenticity and transparency in digital.
Appealing to Gen Z’s unique sense of self and the world around them will require brands to embrace three key paradigm shifts in 2017:
- Brands need to invest media dollars and focus activity in digital platforms that allow consumers to co-create a shared brand experience. Unlike the personalization coveted by millennials, Gen Z will be hands on — they want to try it, take it apart and recreate it.
- Brands need to give their target consumers a deeper look inside the brand via owned media. Beyond simply offering products and services, brands need to share their story, their purpose and details about their production processes. Such openness will allow Gen Z to determine if the brand’s values match their own.
- Brands need to switch their creative and media focus. Gen Z seeks a digital experience that is more right brain, with a focus on imagination through technologies such as Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality, nonverbal immersive formats, music and stronger visual imagery.
Winning over Gen Z will not be easy, but it will make brands and their advertising better and more adaptive in the process.