A Shift in Perspective: Generation Z

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Marketers have spent years researching the Millennial generation. In broad strokes, they know that Millennials are the last generation to have had an offline childhood and the youngest have grown up with a digital world catered to them). Millennials have lived through a recession, a boom in technology, and the rise of digital identity. They are experiential in nature when it comes to food, fashion, and technology—and they share the good and the bad of their experiences.

But here’s the clincher: Millennials won’t be 18 forever. In fact, they’ve already outgrown their role as the prime demographic for marketers, and are being replaced by what’s called Generation Z.

Generation Z is made up of people born after 1997, when a Post-Millennial period started easing us into true Gen Z. This group represents the first generation to grow up with technology inherent to their daily lives. The oldest were toddlers during the smartphone evolution; they grew up with an optimized Internet, full use of social media, and apps that were fully integrated into their lives. This is the generation that had a social media presence before they were even born; they knew how to swipe and navigate touchscreens before they could write their names, and they’ll grow up with a social media presence started by their parents.

The members of Generation Z are still children right now, but the fringe of the generation is already at an age to hold some purchasing power. As a result, it is hard to get a read as to who is directly targeting them and who is targeting them as a secondary market. While we see things such as Pepsi’s Pepsimoji campaign, which fits into how Generation Z is communicating, we’re also seeing things such as the resurgence of lapel pins as a quick offline identifier for passion points, insider knowledge and more.

Generation Z live both online and off; they embrace both spaces and it will change the approach of how they are marketed to drastically. They have an unlimited amount of available content to process and limited physical time. As brands begin to look into marketing to this age group, they need to be aware that Generation Z is already brand fluent—and want to know if the brand is worth their time and money.

While Millennials grew up with the aspirations of their Boomer parents, members of Generation Z, for the most part, are the children of Generation X. Rather than being raised with limitless aspirations, they’re being raised to understand how the world works and where they fit.

Members of Gen Z are too young to solve the world’s problems, but old enough to be affected by them. They have inherent cynicism, rooted in the their parents’ Gen X mindset of “me against the world.”

AR/VR will rise to prominence for Gen Z in the same way the internet rose for Millennials

Members of Gen Z are used to an amount of equality and respect not formerly accorded to children—because in online communities, no one knows you’re a kid.

Gen Z are more aware of what’s happening in the world and more willing to openly challenge their parents on things—they “educate upwards.”

Generation Z members find inherent value in a product based on how it reflects their persona, what the craftsmanship of the product is, and if the product feels unique. If a product isn’t working for them, it’s not worth their time or money.

Gen Z have less brand loyalty than Millennials. They drop brands when things don’t work. Gen Z’s brand loyalty can be measured by a product’s/service’s effectiveness/longevity.

Frugality is a characteristic. Due to exposure to war/recession and watching what happened to the Millennials before them, they understand value and brand worth versus personal worth.

Gen Z do not distinguish among an online store, social media, or brick & mortar—the purpose of all of those is simply to connect with a seller and purchase something, making shopping an even playing field.

As the generations redefine the American dream, we can say that Millennials are redefining family, ownership, wellness, and religion.

But it’s the members of Gen Z who will shake things up next. Is your brand, your product, your service, going to be considered “worth their time”?

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