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Generation Z: What Marketers Need to Know

As a marketer and a millennial, I’m constantly hearing about how marketers are trying to reach me, and how millennials are the driving force in America. On the flip side, I’m also used to seeing other articles touting how millennials are the downfall of America. Whichever side you’re on, it’s certain that millennials and how to reach them are at the top of every marketer’s list of “people to understand”.
Do millennials impact your business? Whether you’re still trying to harness their purchasing power or have assumed that this generation isn’t your core audience, it’s important to know one thing: Millenials are growing up.
Recently I met with a company who when prompted, mentioned their intended target audience was millennials, specifically 18-year-olds. That’s great, I thought, but those aren’t millennials.
Millennials are no longer the young, hip, vibrant crowd that leads the way in technology and spending. We’re growing up, settling down and handing the reigns over.
The next generation is here and they’re more powerful than we millennials ever thought about being. Their name is Generation Z. Known as Centennials or iGen, Gen Z is the latest group of rising adults, and a powerful audience that requires a shift in marketing focus to reach.
Who is Gen Z?
This rising generation of adults was born anywhere from 1996 to the present. Why 1996? According to The Center for Generational Kinetics:
“The last, most important defining moment for Millennials was September 11, 2001. Those born from 1996 onward do not remember September 11, 2001. If you don’t remember 9/11, then you are NOT a Millennial, but a member of the generation after Millennials: iGen or Gen Z.”
Within the next five years, iGen will be the fastest growing generation in the workplace and marketplace. That means as marketers, we need to be prepared to adjust market expectations, and our marketing pitch to reach this new generation, who is quickly gaining spending power.
While members of Generation Z are largely still kids and adolescents, the older end of that spectrum are already movers and shakers in our space, and 20-year-olds are proving to be more tenacious and more inspired than ever before.
Studies show that Gen Z is self-aware and conscientious of their environment, choosing eco-conscious products over value, and willing to do the work it takes to bring innovative ideas to life. They are fiscally conservative and have grown up in a world where they’ve seen devastating effects from overspending and overconsumption.
They are slated to be one of the most highly educated generations, as it’s likely that more Gen Z will attend and graduate from college than any other generation. They are also possibly the most inspired generation, looking for jobs and career choices that have a positive impact to the greater good.
Does Gen Z impact your digital space?
Yes! They are a generation who has never grown up without a smartphone in their hands (thus the name iGen) and think of technology not as a convenience, but simply a way of life. Gen Z didn’t grow up with encyclopedia volumes on their family bookshelf, but instead associate Google with their lifeline to research. Instead of board games and jump ropes, they turn to websites, apps and games to not only socialize and share experiences with their peers, but to experience the world.
They have become accustomed to self-educating themselves on anything they want to know, and platforms like YouTube and Pinterest show them how to do everything from change the oil in their car to how to bake a pie. From there they dive in headfirst, and share their journey across apps like Snapchat and Instagram. They are fully connected, all the time, and expect answers to their questions to already be in the palm of their hands.
“They still possess general knowledge about traditional research methods, but they have come of age placing a priority on how fast you can find the right information rather than on whether or not you know the right information.”
This means that marketers must think mobile and digital first. The website for your business isn’t a secondary component; it is a mainstay for your business success and should be treated and planned as such. In history, we’ve looked to younger generations to lead the charge, where older generations become later adopters of technology (think: Facebook, iPhones, YouTube) and this is no different. Generation Z will soon be leading the way the world changes around us, just as millennials have done over the past 20 years.
How Do I Reach Gen Z?
Gen Z’ers are constantly online to not only find the product or service they are looking for, but the history and the brand they’re buying into. As marketers, our goals must be concise, and easily translated to reach this generation. Our websites should allow these users to not only find what they’re looking for, but to educate them about the product and make it available in the quickest, best way possible.
Businesses that are looking to reach this new generation cannot simply use their website as a landing page, and continue to hope people will pick up the phone and call, and those doing so will miss out on significant business, by not fully extending their brand into the digital space. While they may only see minimal impact of that this year, there is no doubt that without change they will suffer significantly in the future.
Staying ahead of the curve means acting now. For your business, that means building a digital presence that grabs the attention of your audience before they need it. Simply reacting to demands of a new market will leave you behind and playing catch up will require twice the work. Naturally leading new audiences into your business funnel and thinking about their needs ahead of time is guaranteed to help Gen Z not only find your business, but continue to increase conversions for your bottom line.

Kindra Svendsen is Director of Digital Strategy for Speak Creative, a Tennessee-based digital agency founded in 1999. The 27-person team works with clients across the U.S. and from a wide array of industries. Find out more about Speak Creative at

Posted: 8/17/2016 7:30:00 AM | with 0 comments
Filed under: Business, Digital, Generation, iGen, Marketing, Millennials, Mobile, Small, Website, Z

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