Generation Z is often referred to as the first generation of truly digital natives. While Millennials have spent most of their adult lives immersed in technology, we have memories of the world before broadband internet and smartphones. Generation Z knows of no other world than what we see right now.
So how do we classify it all? According to Tech Target, we can describe it as the following:
Generation Z is the demographic cohort following Generation Y, also known as the Millennials or the Millennial Generation; other names suggested for the cohort include iGeneration (iGen), Gen Tech, Gen Wii, Net Gen, Digital Natives and Plurals.
The dates are given for Generation Z range from the mid-1990s through the second decade of this century, although precise years vary according to the source. At over two billion individuals, Generation Z is the most populous generational cohort of all time.
Why Generation Z matters
According to Fast Company, Gen Z is expected to account for 40% of all customers by 2020. This should translate to the spending power of US$44 billion and if we take into account their influence on their parents’ spending then it increases to US$600 billion.
Therefore the spending power and influence of the Generation Z segment will have a bigger impact on the Asian and global markets. They are today’s teenagers but will become tomorrow’s trendsetters.
The question that still remains for many brands is to how do you effectively engage with the young generation.
What does Generation Z really care about?
To understand them and how brands can communicate with the Generation Z community, it is important to understand where they place value. Lowering attention spans (8 seconds) and a need for authenticity and trust, have created challenges for brands that now have to rethink their strategies and match up to the most digitally savvy generation of consumers.
What has been found to be the most effective is to follow these five simple principles:
- Be authentic – so brands need to have a personal connection to their consumers and should avoid too much fluff with no substance
- Get online - brands without an online presence have already lost in the war to capture Generation Z’s attention, so brands have to create a real online presence.
- Personalise their experience – find ways to know your audience and target them with things that they want and give them an online experience they can relate to
- Be more than profits – the young generation want to relate to their brand, and expect them to have a greater goal other than profits, so embracing a cause is important to your brand identity
- Give them an option to choose their preferred channel – every social media platform has its pros and cons and like all consumers, Generation Z has its own preferences. Give them the option to engage your brand across all platforms and make it a quality experience
Why PR might be the best way to reach Generation Z
Public relations may not be the first thing that pops into your mind when it comes to engaging a group of teenagers. It is highly unlikely they take the time to read the broadsheets or watch the 9 o’clock news.
However, like evolving consumer behaviour, the media and PR have started to change along with it. Gone are the days where the newspapers were the only and best source of news, or watching the evening news report was family bonding time. The news has gone digital and PR is changing to stay ahead of the trend.
Here’s why PR might be the best way to reach Generation Z:
- The media has moved online: almost every single news publication has embraced the online revolution and now produces more content for their website than their print or broadcast platform. This has helped them reach a wider audience and also capture some of the attention of Generation Z. One of the most effective ways to get your brand featured in the news is through PR.
- PR builds trust: the youth of today need to trust a brand and reading or watching a short video that features the brand will have more impact than a dozen ads that say a similar thing. This is third-party validation and a crucial aspect of any brand’s journey to build consumer trust.
- How we present the story matters: brands can be a stickler for a certain style or phrasing that can be off-putting for a younger generation, but an effective PR agency or consultant will know how to present the story in a way that appeals to a community with an 8-second attention span.
So will this change your brand’s image and perception among Generation Zers overnight? Probably not, but it would be a good start to the change that many brands need to make. So, this might be the time to review your internal PR strategy or take the first steps to get your company some publicity.