by Bernard May, Contributor to Forbes
People have been talking about generation gaps since (at least) the 1960s, and I think it all comes down to one basic concept: Older generations simply don’t understand the younger ones (and some might say vice versa).
This same disconnect can confound businesses that are looking to attract a generation they are not quite in tune with. Regardless of why this occurs, squaring this circle is paramount for brands and marketers whose success depends on connecting the generational dots.
The most recent gap surrounds Generation Z. This generation is usually defined as those born between 1997 and 2012, who have a number of unique characteristics beyond being synonymous with the latest technology and social media platforms.
Gen Zers (often called “zoomers”) are the first generation considered digital natives. For them, the internet, mobile phones and related innovations have been as much a part of their lives as breathing.
Many weren’t even born during (or weren’t old enough to relish) the era when MTV was best-known for playing music videos.
Their distinctive experience and perspective have had a major impact on their behavior in the digital (and physical) marketplace. Ultimately, there are a few Gen Z trends you should be aware of — so you can focus your digital marketing efforts to reach a generation that already commands billions in consumer spending.
1. Video Is Their Lifeblood
One survey found that more than 75% of zoomers got their first smartphone before age 18, and 22% did by age 10. So, how do you reach these smartphone connoisseurs? Video is key. While the value of video content is no secret, it’s particularly important for zoomers who grew up with YouTube and now dominate TikTok.
You may have heard that the attention span of the average zoomer is only 8 seconds long. That represents a change from millennials, who are said to stay tuned for 12 seconds at a time. This information is important to consider when you’re using video for marketing. Log on to TikTok and check out the length of the average video. Most will not crack 8-10 seconds in length.
Remember the 8-second rule — zoomers don’t feel they have time to waste. Keep your videos short and sweet.
2. They’re Loyal To Brands
Zoomers are often (and unfairly) characterized as fickle or unpredictable. But perception is not always reality. The aforementioned digital upbringing has fostered a different mindset regarding brand preferences and loyalty. The numbers paint an interesting picture.
A report by the IBM Institute for Business Value and the National Retail Federation highlights some marketing-related trends surrounding Gen Z and brand affinity:
• 59% of the zoomers surveyed report trusting the consumer brands of their childhood.
• 46% of those in the 19-21 age bracket have “a strong connection or loyalty” to a brand.
• 66% say that they tend to buy from a preferred brand for a long time.
Despite short attention spans, zoomers appear to be more than capable of maintaining relationships with the brands they love, which makes fostering a Gen Z customer base an even more enticing prospect.
3. Value-Positive Interactions Are Gold
Many zoomers aren’t passive consumers — they want to have two-way interactions with trusted brands. This is another characteristic highlighted by the IBM and NRF report, which claims that 44% of zoomers would appreciate the opportunity to send product design ideas to their favorite brands, and 43% want to be able to participate in product reviews.
Consider this for a moment: Having customers who are so dedicated to your brand that they actively want to contribute to your success. Well, they exist.
How can you capitalize on these preferences? By embracing the power of micro-influencer content.
Compared with the Kardashians, social mediamicro-influencers have fewer followers — maybe 10,000 to 50,000, not millions. They attract a smaller, more intimate pool of devotees, and this is the kind of personalized environment that zoomers value most.
4. They Influence Spending Habits For The Whole Family
Most zoomers aren’t fully independent adults yet. Many are still in middle school or high school. Even the oldest among them — in their early 20s — are likely to still live with their parents. In fact, the majority of people in the 18-29 age group still reside with one or both parents.
Regardless, many in this generation generate a significant income and therefore have an influence on family spending. They are most likely to exercise their influence when it comes to family spending on food and beverages (77% report having a say in this), furniture (76%), household goods (73%), travel (66%) and dining out (63%). That’s something to keep in mind as you tailor your marketing campaigns.
5. They Respond To Omnichannel Marketing
For Gen Zers, technology and connectivity are just part of the fabric of life. They’ve never treated these like revolutionary innovations — however, they’re not married to their digital devices, either. Virtually all of Gen Z (98%) report that they shop in brick-and-mortar stores at least some of the time.
That means an omnichannel approach is essential when trying to attract Gen Z. Again, numbers bear this out — 88% of zoomers report a preference for omnichannel marketing.
It’s crucial to reach out to zoomers wherever they are — on social media, on YouTube, on their phones. Make sure you present a consistent marketing message across all these various platforms and channels.
The takeaway here? Gen Z should not be regarded as some mysterious entity. There is already a substantial amount of data on their marketing preferences and their spending habits. Reaching them is simply a matter of using readily available tools in a prudent manner.
Remember, if they’re not running to you, you will need to go find them — where they watch, click and scroll in the digital landscape.
Article originally appeared on Forbes.com.
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