A summary of what you must know about Gen Z consumers and how to market to them

Just the basics – an overview – of the key points you need to know about Gen Z consumers.

If you don’t have the time to read through several posts on the topic of Gen Z consumers, then this post brings to attention some important aspects about Generation Z that you – as a marketer – need to know.

But if you can spare some time, then you might want to take a look at the following series of posts on Gen Z marketing for a more complete understanding of this next generation of consumers.

» Gen Z Statistics: Must Know Facts and Figures
» Gen Z vs Millennials: Are They the Same?
» Generational purchase behaviour: how do we shop?
» Gen Z Email Marketing: Statistics and Tips

This image shows a new graduate, part of the growing cohort of Gen Z consumers

Gen Z Consumers: An Overview

1.    This generation of consumers has the shortest attention span to date at a mere 8 seconds! But if you’re able to capture their attention, they’ll stay focused on your ad, blog post, video, etc.

2.    They’re almost always online and connected. They use the internet to communicate, make purchases, conduct research, share opinions, stay in touch with family and friends, and so on.

3.    Zers are multitaskers. They’re even capable of working with 5 screens at any one time.

4.    Gen Z consumers are realistic – they make decisions in a pragmatic and analytical manner.

5.    Gen Z tries to make the most educated purchase possible by doing their research. They will compare prices, styles, availability, shipping (and return) conditions, and read ratings across multiple websites.

6.    When deciding where to shop, a major motivator tends to be price, which makes sense when you remember that they’re very young, with some still reliant on pocket money or what they earn from part-time jobs.

7.    Gen Z consumers are socially conscious and therefore their behaviours are heavily influenced by their views on social responsibility. In other words, they use their wallets to make a statement – they’ll support businesses that share their views and values.

8.    They’re also a cohort that stands up for what they believe in and the issues that matter to them. Generation Z are an opinionated bunch and aren’t scared to let you know it.

9.    Transparency, ‘realness’, and having a greater purpose are incredibly important to this generation.

10.  Gen Zers are all about individual expression. They want to craft their own identities, don’t want to be tied down to any one stereotype, and avoid labels.

11.  This generation is the most inclusive yet.

12.  Zers prefer shopping at physical stores compared to shopping online. They look for unique in-store experiences and prefer good-looking stores.

13.  This generation of consumers tend to be less loyal to brands and less interested in loyalty programmes.

14.  While Zers love technology and don’t remember a life before the prevalence of the internet, they also yearn for human interaction. In other words, they expect the benefits of technology, like instant access, but still want a human touch to their brand interactions.

15.  They expect a very high quality straight across the board, whether that’s in terms or product or service quality or the quality of interactions with brands.

16.  Gen Z value and expect personalized, intuitive, attractive, simple, and – of course – functional customer-facing marketing touch points.

Marketing to Gen Z: Considerations

You obviously can’t ignore or forget all about your other generations of consumers.

But if you eventually want to cater to Gen Z, then you’ll need to lay the groundwork for it. And if you want to ‘get through’ to them, that means first understanding them and how to communicate with them.

Here are a few things to think about.

  • Storytelling and visuals go a long way with Gen Z consumers. Likewise, ads that feature real people with real problems – something relatable – may resonate with them more than ads featuring something perfect or idealised.

Take Note!
Brand storytelling isn’t always effective, so know when it’s appropriate to use and when it isn’t.

  • Share your story (a truthful, authentic one), be a brand with a purpose, don’t be afraid of being different, cultivate a relationship with consumers, be transparent, and work hard to build brand trust—and keep it!
  • Although they don’t like being talked down to, that doesn’t mean that your copy or marketing messages should be complex, lengthy or boring. Keep it relevant, easy to understand, and quick to read.

Tip:
You really don’t want to go overboard with your message style or tactic otherwise you risk coming across as desperate or inauthentic. Be real and keep it real—personable and down-to-earth.

  • Put in the effort to connect with your customers. Just as you would with Millennials, it’s important to continuously engage with Gen Z so you get to know them. You’ll be able to gain insight into what your customers want and need as well as observe their consumer behaviour. It also gives them the chance to be involved—sharing their thoughts is particularly important.
  • Make use of social channels like Instagram and Snapchat to reach these young consumers. Quick and easy-to-digest content works well with them.
  • Choose the influencers you work with carefully. Make sure their audience, their personal branding, and what they stand for align with your brands. Find a way to make collaborations organic.

Tip:
Have a presence everywhere that your target Gen Z consumers can be found – that includes new or up-and-coming channels. Also make use of videos and YouTube.

  • This generation of consumers prefer uplifting and positive messages over messages that are fear mongering. Remember that 83% of them believe their actions can make a difference on the topics that matter than them, so if your product or service can make the world a better place that’s likely to resonate with them. And if you’re able to show them how their involvement makes a difference on the issues near and dear to their hearts, you’ll be of greater interest to them.

Tip:
Making the world a better place doesn’t mean hard-selling, selling haughty and overbearing ideas, or making big promises you can’t (and won’t) keep. Be a real purpose-driven brand.

  • Be a business worthy of admiring, think Patagonia or Toms—a brand that walks the talk and can prove it.
  • Products and services should provide real value and meet actual needs. Value for money, i.e. good quality at fair prices is important to them.
  • Create a customer service system that is quick, responsive, instant and – of course – optimized for smartphone users. Keep in mind that they prefer messaging over actual phone conversations. (Seriously, Millennials and Gen Z are more likely to have phone phobia…) So consider using social channels for Gen Z consumers’ customer service needs. You might also want to offer self-service options like a well-written FAQ page for issues that they can fix on their own, without having to contact customer service.

Tip:
Where possible, personalize the customer service experience. Gen Z consumers seem to expect and appreciate when messages and interactions with a brand are customized.

  • Since they’re a cost-conscious generation, you’ll have to make sure it’s clear why your products or services are worth a higher price tag.
  • Privacy matters! Commit to and highlight your business’ dedication to protecting customers’ privacy.