How marketers can position their company to grow with Generation Z

A notepad with GENERATION Z written in the middle, with six traits listed around it: pragmatic, connected, global, educated, social and visual.

Generation Z, the current 13-17-year-olds, have been mobile since middle school.

Compared to millennials, who were mobile pioneers, Gen Z teens are mobile natives, according to Think with Google. This group is one of the only groups affected by advertising on the basis of whether the product is “cool” or not.

Getting their first phone is a major milestone for Gen Z-ers, and video rules their viewing habits – with a total of more than three hours a day spent watching online videos. They are mobile shoppers, and it is very important for them to stay connected via texting and messaging apps.

So what does this mean for marketers preparing for growth? Well, a lot of it is obvious, but getting there is the tough part.

Gen Z marketing: A few statistics according to Think with Google

  • Gen Z represents more than a quarter of the U.S. population (26 percent) with an annual purchasing power of $44 billion.
  • Getting a phone is no. 3 in importance for teens, behind graduating school and getting a license, and teens say they connect with people more via text than face-to-face interaction.
  • 38 percent preferred to interact via text versus just 15 percent in person.
  • Teens even text those they are in the same room as – three in 10 teens say they text people they are spending time with in person.
  • More than 50 percent of teens said their social media followers are important to them, giving them social currency. This is important to note for advertising to teens. Their peers influence gen Z-ers – if their friends are talking about a product, they endorse it more than others.
  • Teens are on screens a majority of the time, which isn’t surprising since most teens had a smartphone by age 12. Compare that to current 18 to 24-year-olds, who had their first smartphone at age 16, and 25 to 34-year-olds at the age of 20.

How Gen Z spends its time

As for apps and platforms, Gen Z uses Snapchat and Instagram the most. Facebook is still consumed daily, but that’s what it is used for – consuming, not sharing. Snapchat is seen as a fun way to interact with friends and peers without their thoughts being shared or permanent.

Connecting offline, teens find sports teams as the best way to connect in the real world, or IRL (in real life). Game consoles and television also play a big role in a teen’s day-to-day life.

Gen Z teens are switching from texting to mobile messaging apps and spend most of their time using those messaging apps, watching videos online and social networking.

Advertising to Generation Z

Sixty-eight percent of teens make purchases online. They also react more positively to ads aimed at them, with teens their age doing things they do. Gen Z doesn’t go to a store unless they know the brick and mortar store has what they want. For most teens, the top three aspects that make something cool are:

  1. If friends are talking about it
  2. If they see an ad about it
  3. If it’s something personalized to them

In order to reach Gen Z teens, companies need to be mobile friendly, personalize their message to teens, use photos, reach them through social media and be philanthropic.

Teens are on their phones more than they are not, so it is correct to assume if they are your target audience, you want to market your brand on mobile. This is the perfect start to implementing other things we’ve learned about Gen Z. Smartphones are No. 1 for use, followed by tablets, laptops, TVs and gaming consoles.

Gen Z-ers spend most of their time watching videos, listening to music and messaging on their mobile devices. Not surprisingly, targeting Gen Z’s video usage, music and social networking apps is the best way to get through to them.

Use advertising with imagery

So, we’ve found the way to get to Gen Z-ers; now let’s talk about how to implement it.

Teens react positively to advertising they can connect with personally – imagery of teens like them doing things they do will get their attention. (However, beware of cheesy stock images which looked too staged, as these will appear inauthentic and could have the exact opposite effect).

Teens want things that are cool or make them unique – how is your brand going to do that?

Not all social media is created equal

Knowing how teens use each social media channel is important. Facebook is more for consumption than sharing – so don’t rely on teens using Facebook to boast about your product, but you can reach them via targeted ads as they scroll. Snapchat is most popular among this age group.

Gen Z likes the idea of sharing their day and ideas via a disappearing photo or video – it’s short-lived, not permanent, and they like that. With social networks being a common ground for haunting any person with mistakes and leading to easy bullying, it’s easy to see why an app that provides communication that doesn’t stick around is popular these days. Snapchat ads and the “Discovery” section for brands are a great place to find your target teen audience.

Instagram’s rates for shopping and targeting audiences are increasing. The app has seen growth in reported conversions for sponsored ads and even those brands which are followed organically. Instagram is another forum to easily target the Gen Z population – again, use photos they can relate to featuring kids their age.

Be philanthropic

Teens also find companies using their brand to make a difference as important. If companies have a good online profile and if their friends are talking about it, the “cool” factor for teens will increase.

Teens want the brands they associate with to make them feel good – companies with great philanthropic efforts are important to Gen Z-ers.

The takeaway

Gen Z has been mobile since a very young age and understands the online platform more than any other generation. They want things fast and easy—shopping from the comfort of their home rather than visiting brick and mortar stores—truly making them the most mobile generation.

How are you planning to scale your business to accommodate Gen Z? Is this something you are already preparing for in your overall marketing strategy? Let us know your thoughts and your experiences in the comment section below.

Amanda DiSilvestro is a writer for NoRiskSEO, a full service SEO agency, and a contributor to SEW. You can connect with Amanda on Twitter and LinkedIn

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