5 Facts Your Marketing Team Needs to Know About Gen Z

The question: Who is Gen Z and why do they matter right now? The answer: for the purpose of our most recent webinar, we defined Gen Z as those born between 1995-2010. (Fun fact: That includes me!) Why does my generation matter right now? Well, the short answer is that the first few rounds of Gen Zer’s recently graduated college and are now working in our first full-time jobs. This means we finally have a disposable income—in fact, our generation now has approximately $143 billion in buying power. Moreover, some reports project that by 2020 they’ll command nearly 40 percent of all consumer shopping. That means this is the prime time for brands to win over my generation and begin developing marketing strategies that earn not only our business but our loyalty.

Recently, our VP of Brand and Revenue Marketing, Sarah DeRocher Moore, and Senior Social Strategist at McCann, Jordan Berger, spoke on our webinar titled, “Gen Z Insights and Misconceptions.” During this webinar, they discussed the importance of winning the hearts and minds of Gen Z—and how brands can create content that will resonate with this audience.

What follows are five insights about Gen Z that the savviest brands are keeping at the top of mind as they develop campaigns and strategies:

1. They trust brands more than politicians

Berger explained that Gen Z tends to question everything today—but there is a bright spot for marketers. Today, “Gen Z has double the amount of trust in companies than in politicians” and Gen Z used the adjective “trustworthy” as the #1 word to describe successful companies today. Not only do we desire brands we can trust, but “81% of Gen Z believes that global brands have the power to make the world better.” So what does this mean for your brand? Don’t be afraid to take a stance on issues that align with your brand and take action on making the world a better place — because if it’s done authentically, we’ll rally behind you in support.

2. They focus on real moments

Over the past two years, Gen Z has transitioned from using social media to document their lives, to a more “in-the-moment” approach. There’s been a shift from a polished social media presence to a new focus on raw, real moments. When thinking about your brand’s social strategy, don’t forget to utilize ephemeral content such as Instagram stories, Facebook Live, Snapchat, and more as another touchpoint to reach your Gen Z audience.

3. They want authenticity from brands

Berger stated that for Gen Z, authenticity (in all its forms) is a norm and an expectation. As we've seen with Sephora and LEGO, Gen Z expects brands today to create real, unfiltered content that showcases people of all races, genders, ethnicities, and more. Moore shared an example from L'Oréal’s #YoursTruly True Match campaign that featured men and women of all colors to highlight their diverse range of foundation shades. The campaign was wildly successful and the message resonated with their audience because it laddered up to L'Oréal’s brand promise “you’re worth it”.

4. They aren’t afraid to use their power

Another key insight Berger surfaced is that “Gen Z knows the power they have to evoke change in the world right now.” They’ve acknowledged the power they can acquire by rallying together on social. They’ve realized that they don’t have to wait until they’re 18 to impact the world today and that they can “vote with their wallets, not just with their ballots.” To emphasize this, Jordan discussed an example of a 12-year-old girl who made national headlines after she wrote into her local newspaper to report on a sexist comment claiming that Boy Scouts were “future leaders” and Girl Scouts are “just having fun.”

5. They desire one-on-one interactions with brands

If you want to engage Gen Z, you have to focus on creating one-on-one interactions. Gen Z wants to interact with the brands they care about! Moore discussed the famous Fortnite player, Tyler “Ninja” Blevins, and how he’s created an extremely successful personal brand—earning over $500K per month—by engaging his fans one-on-one. He invites direct conversations with him by answering his viewers on Twitch and entertains his fans by telling jokes and stories while he plays. To validate this point, even more, Moore referenced our 2018 Smart Social Report, where we found that 97% of tweets are 1:1 interaction between brands and consumers. Only 3% are outbound “marketing” messages. To be successful with Gen Z, it’s imperative for brands to meet them in their native, digital environment.

Marketing campaigns to date have largely been about getting information out to people— one-way marketing—and that’s worked really well so far, explained Anurag Abinashi, Director of Strategy at Spredfast + Lithium. “But marketing is changing as we speak,” said Abinashi. Consumers today are looking for more than just facts and information—they’re looking for content that appeals to their emotional or personal beliefs. If you’re interested in learning more insights about Gen Z, check out the on-demand webinar here. Moore also discusses marketing strategies that have resonated with Gen Z, and how Spredfast + Lithium can provide your brand with the tools to learn more about this audience to help you implement innovative campaigns.

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Naomi Miller is the Revenue Marketing Specialist at Spredfast. An Austin native and recent graduate from the University of Texas at Austin, she is the definition of a proud Texan.