While marketing leaders have spent a decade adapting their online strategies to reach Millennials, Gen Z has snuck into adulthood and emerged the most influential digital consumer cohort. Not only is Gen Z older than you think (as much as 23 years old in 2019), larger than other generations (90.3 million) and ready to spend ($143.2 billion in buying power), the youngest consumers are also foundationally distinct from their Millennial predecessors. Unlike Millennials, members of Gen Z grew up not knowing a world without social media and mobile technology. As a result, they are highly skilled at using online platforms in service of their own specific goals. Gen Z consumers have set a high bar for their social media usage and expect the same from brands.
Reaching the stratosphere of Gen Z’s social media expectations will require marketing leaders to quickly learn how to effectively engage Gen Z consumers online, by following two strategies:
- Build a Gen Z-focused social media strategy. To create a digital brand strategy that engages Gen Z consumers, marketing leaders must design branded content that boosts Gen Z’s own personal brands. Gen Z consumers are more likely to follow brands that post content that makes fans look good and provides value to their followers. A good metaphor for the way Gen Z manages their own social media accounts is that of a digital brand manager. The goal of social media is to provide content that promotes engagement among followers and, therefore, makes their brand more interesting. So, in building an effective Gen Z-focused social media strategy, brands should seek to create content that gives Gen Z consumers ammunition to boost their own online brand.
- Create content that leverages Gen Z’s values. Gartner’s Consumer Insights Research Team analyzes the “why” driving the “what” of consumer behavior to uncover actionable insights. Values are the way in. Among many unique values perspectives, two specific groups of values provide marketing leaders with clues for the type of content that piques Gen Z’s interest. First, high rank positions for identity, creativity and passion point to the generation’s penchant for expressive creative content — especially behind-the-scenes content. As compared to Millennials at the same age, Gen Z also prioritizes the values of tenacity and expertise, while downplaying the value of fun. This indicates that the youngest generation is highly engaged in the news and events of the day, and they expect brands to find appropriate ways to address world and national issues too.
Gen Z is no longer an “emerging generation.” They have already changed the landscape of social media and mobile technology marketing. Now is the time to get smart on Gen Z consumers and adapt digital marketing strategies to engage the post-Millennial wave.
For more, check out: Best Digital Marketing Practices for Gen Z (subscription required)