Added Value Edits: Meet Generation Z

21 Oct 2014|jhall

When you’re only 19 years old or younger, it can be easy to get overlooked. Marketers should not make that mistake. Generation Z is already the biggest generational group in the US, making up over a quarter of the population – yes, bigger than Millennials – and estimates put non-Caucasians at 46%. And of course, they are the most technologically savvy generation yet – thus the moniker, ‘digital natives’. Read on to discover how Gen Z is changing the world, and how your brand can be part of the revolution.

Marketing: the Next Generation
In the war for talent, what will the next generation of marketers look like? The attributes needed to succeed in marketing are changing fast; tomorrow’s talent will be polymaths, mastering a radically new skill set, argues Added Value’s Bart Michels, Global CEO Added Value Group. Click here to read more…

Top 5 Ways to Win with Generation Z
How can brands win with Generation Z? Click here to read more advice on how to market to future generations.

Gen X-Y-Z
Although they are adjacent generations, Gen Y (Millennials) and Gen Z have a number of major differences. Gen Z is a more tech-innate, connected generation – which heavily affects their communication style. This precocious cohort is more socially aware than the previous generation and more future-facing in their attitudes. Where Gen Y is thought to be selfish, and Gen X cynical, Gen Z emerges as mature and realistic. Brands will need to learn and adapt.

Gender & Gen Z
For Gen Z, gender roles are thought to be more fluid. Brands such as Nerf, Lego and Barbie are already capitalizing on this, offering toy products that question traditional gender models, and provide an area where girls can safely explore traditionally male toys; and GoldieBlox has been marketing science- and engineering-themed toys to girls. Their commercial, “The Princess Machine”, has gained attention for radically questioning ‘girl-themed’ products. And of course, P&G’s “Like a Girl” campaign has been causing quite a stir in challenging damaging female stereotypes.

Entrepreneurs in the Making
With their predisposition to all things digital, it is no surprise that Gen Z-ers are aspiring entrepreneurs. In a 2014 study, 72% of current high school students said they would like to start a business, compared to just 64% of college students. This entrepreneurial spirit may come as a side effect of this generation’s unlimited access to information. PSFK recently dissected this Maker culture in their Maker’s Manual, exploring creation in the modern world.

Generation Salad
Although still young, Gen Z’s attitude toward food is mature and informed. They have grown up aware of the obesity epidemic and tend to have a strong preference for healthier options. A recent study found that 58% of teens are willing to pay more for organic or natural products – and microwavable meal usage has gone down significantly. However, Gen Z’s palate isn’t limited to healthy foods: teens are becoming more enticed by complex flavors, looking for exploration in their choices: dairy brand Chobani has expanded their product line to include more mature flavors targeted toward kids.

Where Millennials are optimists, Gen Z is a group of realists. Growing up following 9/11 and the recession, and under the shadow of climate change, has shaped the kind of stories this generation seeks out. Stories of perfect lives and “happily ever after” don’t appeal to Gen Z in the same way. Brands take note.

Gamified Education
Techniques of education are changing, and Gen Z is at the forefront of this shift. Schools now routinely blend the analogue and digital worlds to enhance the learning experience. An example of this is the use of video games in the classroom to help students learn skills and concepts through in-game trial and error. Since this generation was raised in the digital age of instant gratification, they respond to immediate feedback and tangible markers of progress. The rise of Coursera is indicative of shifting educational paradigms, marking the explosion of remote learning.

Being the last generation with a Caucasian majority, diversity is more than just a goal for Gen Z. Only 55% is Caucasian, compared to 72% of Baby Boomers. Whereas previous generations may be defined through their acceptance of different cultures, Gen Z will be defined by their need for cultural experience: in the workplace, their personal lives, or through their interactions with brands. Cheerios’ recent series of ads featuring an interracial family is a clear nod to younger generations’ expectations of diversity.

A Retail Revolution
As online shopping rises, the traditional retail store model becomes increasingly irrelevant to Gen Z. Successful retailers are changing, and adopting a more aspirational approach to store browsing. This new approach focuses more on brand-led, in-store experiences which engage consumers in ways other than just purchases. REI has smartly taken advantage, providing an in-store climbing wall in their larger stores.

Get in touch if you’d like to hear how Added Value can help you think about strategic marketing that works.

Written by Jonathan Hall, President North America Consulting, Added Value

Image source: iStock

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