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A Snapshot of Gen Z - How to differentiate them from Millennials

March 14, 2018

Generation Z, also known as iGeneration, iGen, Post-Millennials, and the Homeland generation, will be the focus of the advertising industry itself before you can say “selfie.” Generation Z is defined as persons born between 1995 – 2009.  The sweet spot for marketers is the 11 – 16 year old.

Gen Zers are quite different than Millennials despite being referred to as ‘Millenials on Steroids,’ thus, brands cannot afford to simply replicate what they’re doing to reach millennials despite both having a heavy digital lifestyle. Without engaging this new generation on its own terms, brands will fail to capture the hearts (and wallets) of the iGeneration.

Digital is in Gen Z’s DNA

If there’s one thing that marketers need to keep in mind, it’s that Gen Z will not remember a time before the internet. While Millennials adapted, Gen Zers are true digital natives. Multitaskers by nature - on average, members of Gen Z leverage tasks across five digital screens, verses two for Millennials. Also, they tend to listen to streaming services while doing tasks like reading e-books, chatting, checking electronic communications and eating dinner.

Based on this, marketers can conclude that more technology is better - more posts, more banner ads, more social platforms. However, brands will not engage Gen Zers by simply embracing technology. They must behave as “tech-natives.” Half of the Gen Z generation are connected online about 10 hours a day. With media consumption embedded in their daily lives, advertising will need to blend seamlessly into the content Gen Z consumes and disruptions within the online ecosystem will not be welcome.

The Evolving Social Perspective

While 60% of both Millennials and Gen Zers are concerned that social media is too public, Gen Z is actually changing their online behavior and media consumption patterns. Gen Z now spends over 4 hours daily online via mobile devices alone, surpassing Millennial’s daily mobile time of 3 hours. Additionally, Gen Zers tend to have their apps on rotation, using up to five different social channels per day. Moreover, 44% percent of Generation Z checks in on social media at least hourly, 7% checking in more often than every fifteen minutes.

Learning from their millennial elders’ online mishaps, Gen Zers and are quite self-aware of the digital footprint they are leaving behind, but this does not stop the internet from being a vital part of their daily routine as 73% of Gen Zers are connected (online) within an hour of waking up.

Impulsive digital personas and clunky over sharing across social platforms are soon to be obsolete and associated with millennials’ early social media growing pains. In contrast, Gen Zers see their digital persona as a natural extension of their offline identity and carefully curate their every move on social media. Speaking of social media, for Gen Z, Facebook no longer reigns as the leader of social media platforms. In fact, the social network is expected to shed 18-24-year-old users this year for the first time – a predicted 5.6% decline for the age group.

Snapchat is a preferred platform for Gen Zers to express themselves since they can selectively share photos and videos to a select few of their followers; granting them the ability to tell different stories to  specific social circles within the same platform. This is why Snapchat has more users in the 12 to 24-year old range than any other social media platform, and continues to add more users in that age range.

Yet, the advertising potential for Gen Z on Facebook and Instagram should not be overlooked by marketers. These platforms are still heavily utilized by younger generations for sharing certain types of content depending on the social channel. On Instagram, they showcase their aspirational selves; on Facebook, they garner information; and on Snapchat, they share real-life moments. Brands will need to adapt to the way Gen Z shares and consumes messages across different social platforms, or they will be ignored.

Gen Z has major FOMO

This diverse, tailored media consumption could be because of their 8 second attention span, but a quarter of Gen Zers feel that social media is “essential for their relationships.” With the need to stay in the know, the fear of missing out (FOMO) is real.

To get in front of this generation, marketers need to start using this FOMO to their advantage. Queue Ephemeral Content. Ephemeral meaning ‘lasting for a very short time.’ 24 hours at most to be exact. Snapchat spearheaded this trend, however, other social media platforms are jumping on the bandwagon.

Ephemeral content is short and sweet. It’s also visual in the form of images and video. On platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat, brands are able to share their short lived content through the use of “stories” and live videos, which vary from short narrative tales to product demonstrations. These ads also feel more personalized than your typical banner ad in a unique environment. 72% of Gen Z wants to connect with personalized content across all devices. They’re also receptive to influencer marketing – over a fifth are watching YouTube videos posted by celebs or vloggers each month.

This strategy might sound scary to marketers, however, AdWeek listed this style of marketing as the first of five social media trends that will be huge in 2018. With Gen-Zers expected to account for about 40% of all consumers by 2020, it’s time for marketer’s to try something new.

Here are some additional noteworthy stats relating to Gen Z:

  • 67% of Gen Zers prefer real people in ads
  • 79% of respondents said they used Snapchat at least once per day. Perhaps more significantly, 51% of respondents said they use Snapchat about 11 times per day.  

At MBuy, we pride ourselves in staying ahead of the curve. From Baby Boomers to Gen Z, executing media plans to effectively reach our clients’ target audience is what we do. If you would like to know more, visit our success stories page, or click here to reach us.

Carlee Benson

Account Manager