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Generation Z is the first digital generation. They didn’t have to be introduced to technology, they were born into it. Their lives had already been documented and shared on social media before they were even born.
To some, they seem disconnected from the world, living on their phones. But they connect on social media, sharing everything, unique in their ability to find human connection through a screen. They may spend hours playing – or watching people play – video games, but when it comes to social activism, they mean business. Their texting shorthand may be hard to keep up with, but their message is clear: they’re tech savvy, fashion conscious, politically aware, environmentally active, and they’ve got $40 billion of disposable income, with sway over billions more. And they’re not even 25 years old.
The first generation to be considered “digital natives,” Gen Z’s familiarity with technology means they create, consume and share digital content differently from every generation before them.
They expect things from brands no generation before them has, too: accountability, instant gratification, personality, compassion, transparency, personalization…the list goes on. They’re very newness makes them a challenge to marketers who want to effectively reach them.
Gen Z is expected to account for 40 percent of all consumers by 2020. And brands that want to tap into this powerful, emerging consumer base must understand who Gen Z is, what they want from the companies they buy from, and then adapt their style of communication to appeal to this new type of consumer: one willing and eager to engage with brands in a whole new way.
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Why Marketers Need
to Understand Gen Z
These increasingly inﬂuential teens and tweens are responsible for $200 billion in sales annually. $43 billion of that comes directly out of their own pockets.
They want to be seen and heard by their peers. They love to share content and they love to do it online. You’ll ﬁnd them on YouTube, Snapchat, Instagram, Kik, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. They love, love, love video.
And that means you’ll need to understand not just the platforms they use, but how they use them. Gen Z is most captivated by messages from real kids that reﬂect their own lives and experiences.
They trust what their peers have to say about products and services. They are also heavily swayed by “superstar” Gen-Zers that have super-sized social media followings.
User-generated content is a MUST for any marketer looking to win the hearts and minds of these “screenagers”. The more genuine the inﬂuencer and message, the more it will resonate with Gen Z.
How Gen Z Influences Family Spending
In fact, 64% of parents say their kids inﬂuence their decisions about where to go on vacation. Two-thirds say their kids hold sway over family purchases. 60% of tweens impact what car their parents drive.
Between what they buy for themselves and what they convince their parents to purchase, Gen Z actually has access to $1.2 trillion in buying power. That means getting kids excited about products and services is a real opportunity for savvy marketers.
But the average Gen-Zer juggles between 5 screens at once, which means your message has 8 seconds (at most) to interest them before they move on.
Kids’ opinions count—not just for the products and services they buy—but also as part of the buying decisions their parents make. This means their preference for custom content, video, and non-celebrity inﬂuencers is dogma for savvy marketers.
Videos by real kids will humanize your brand and allow you to deliver messages Gen-Zers trust in a quick, engaging way. User generated content builds trust—at a fraction of the cost of celebrity endorsements.
How To Build Buyer Personas For Gen Z
Buyer personas are detailed, reality-based representations of your ideal customers that help you drive product development and content creation. The best ones are founded on insights about your buyers and the general market.
Understanding the kids that do or will use your products—as well as a deep understand of Gen Z as a whole—will help you build accurate personas that help you market to today’s tweens and teens.
Social media and rapid technological innovation mean their tastes change at a supercharged speed. To truly connect and stay relevant with Gen Z, you need an up-to-the-minute understanding of their culture, preferences, attitudes, and technology.
The more customized your brand message is for each persona, the more it will resonate with Gen Z. However, this market is particularly nuanced, which means that your personas can’t be one-size-ﬁts-all.
You’ll likely need to develop several diﬀerent personas to help you understand your target market and review them often to stay relevant.
7 Quick Tips for Marketing to
Gen Z may be short on years, but they’re huge on inﬂuence. Today’s parents ﬁt their lives around their kids, meaning kids’ judgment can be a huge boost—or bust—for brands.
So don’t underestimate Gen Z; use these tips to create memorable content these pint-sized powerhouses can’t wait to share.
Today’s kids can spot Photoshopped images and insincere testimonials lightning-fast. Marketing must feel authentic to connect with Gen Z.
Kids’ tastes change fast. Stay tuned to what’s on their hearts and minds right now.
Kids spend nearly half their screen time on mobile devices. Sites must be easy to navigate on small screens, icons should be big and bright, and links super-easy to click.
Gen Z wants a seamless, easy-get experience. Don’t clutter your site with flowery language or too many graphics and forms.
Gen Z loves to share their opinions, and 84 percent say friends are a major influence on their purchases. Give them something worth sharing.
Although Gen Z likes to think they’re completely independent, they still rely on their parents. Make sure your marketing is friendly and open to parents as well.
93% of tweens say YouTube is their primary source for online searches. Videos are super-popular with Gen Zâ€”especially if they’re easy to view on a mobile device with their friends gathered around.
How Video Content Influences Gen Z Purchase Decisions
If you want to win the attention, hearts, and minds of Gen Z, video content is the most powerful tool your marketing toolbox. Video yields better results and higher engagement than banner ads because Gen Z are watchers, not readers.
But get this: Only 10% of a message is retained from text while a whopping 95% is retained from video. In fact, videos on social media generate 12 times more shares than text and images combined. And if that’s not enough, 64% of consumers are more likely to buy a product after watching a video about it.
Gen Z spends more than 40 hours a week online—and much of that is spent on YouTube. These “screenagers” love to watch videos together—and when they do, they inﬂuence each other’s perceptions about the brands and products they see.
So if you have a great kids’ product, you need to get video content online where kids play and parents shop. But listen carefully: while kids are eager to learn from each other, they DO NOT want to hear from you!
To eﬀectively reach Gen Z, it’s critical that you incorporate user-generated video content that shows relatable kids having fun with your product.
If you get it right, Gen Z will repay you in spades. They’re quick to share videos that strike a chord, making your marketing more visible and impactful than ever.
Gen Z loves to share videos – and it’s no coincidence that some videos have the power to get kids everywhere to
click share. Your video content must hit these 5 sweet spots to go viral with Gen Z:
Tweens and teens have super-short attention spans. The most shareable content is less than 3 minutes long and contains little text.
BE ORIGINAL (BUT NOT TOO ORIGINAL)
Gen-Zers want to be trendsetters, but they also want to ﬁt in. They ﬂip over amazing videos no one’s watching yet, but they don’t deviate too much from the norm.
TARGET OLDER KIDS
Kids like to think of themselves as savvy and more sophisticated than they really are. They’re most likely to share content aimed at kids a bit beyond their age group.
Gen Z wants to watch content on small screens (think smartphones) with their friends. Make sure the content you create is optimized for a mobile experience.
Kids hate nothing more than a brand that talks down to them or tries too hard to relate.
User-generated video content gets 10 times more views on YouTube than content created by brands. Think peer reviews, not commercials.
Give Gen Z something awesome to share with the people that matter to them and you’ll create an army of loyal brand ambassadors who are ready and eager to promote your products for you.
COPPA: Gen Z Marketing Regulations
At its core, COPPA prevents websites from collecting any personally identiﬁable information about kids—think phone numbers, ﬁrst and last name combos, faces, voices—without their parents’ permission.
COPPA does NOT regulate what brands can show kids. There are guidelines for that, but they are rules, not laws, and are almost exclusively concerned with how food ads are directed at kids.
So if Gen Z is your target market, there’s absolutely no reason you can’t develop relationships with them. You just need to follow COPPA’s rules for obtaining veriﬁable parental consent (VPC). But once kids have VPC, they can legally share their information with your brand.
What you do with the information you collect is up to you—although best practice dictates that you use it to inform your own business plans and marketing, and that you don’t share or sell it.
COPPA doesn’t have to be a barrier to reaching and connecting with kids. As long as you know and follow the law, both your brand and the kids you’re reaching will be better for it.
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