The consumer marketing world has spent so much time developing understanding of the Millennial generation, it sometimes forgets that Millennials have younger siblings, nieces, and nephews who are emerging into adulthood in large numbers.

Generation Z is reaching adulthood. Is your consumer marketing strategy ready?

The oldest members of Generation Z, a demographic swath born between 1997 and 2015, are in college now, doing adult things and making adult consumer decisions. By contrast, the oldest Millennials are now in their late 30s. While it would be easy to assume that the consumer marketing that worked with Millennials will work with Gen Z, there are indications that it is not that simple. Here is what consumer marketing strategists should understand about this emerging generation of young adults.

Brick-and-Mortar Stores, but Influenced by Technology

You might assume that Gen Z shops from smartphones, but in fact, two-thirds say they make purchases by “shopping in a store” most of the time. Their shopping trips are a bit different from those of their older siblings and parents, however. In-store shopping with Gen Z is heavily influenced by technology, and they use their smartphones frequently while shopping. How? The five apps and features they favor in retail stores are texting, Snapchat, Google Search, the camera on their phone, and Facebook. 

An Adventurous, Experience-Oriented Demographic

Generation Z is considered “very resource sensitive.” They watched parents and older siblings cope with the Great Recession, downsizing, and the real estate bust, and they are value-driven and more geared toward experiences than toward “stuff.”

At the same time, they are acutely attuned to convenience and multi-tasking, so when your visuals pack a lot of information, they resonate with this demographic. Gen Z is willing to try new and exciting food products, particularly if they can do so in a collaborative space with infrastructure like charging stations in place. In short, brands that offer fusion cuisines, packaged with convenience in mind, have a receptive audience in Gen Z.

Not Just Digital Natives, but Mobile Natives

Gen Z likes shopping in stores, as long as they have their technology with them. 

The Millennial generation is credited with being the first “digital native” generation, a demographic that does not remember a time before computers (and the internet with younger Millennials). Generation Z takes it a step further. They are the first “mobile native” generation, who can hardly remember the time before smartphones.

This means that they consume content differently than older generations, and because of the world of information constantly at their fingertips, they are less likely to take information at face value than older, more trusting consumers. What this means for brands is that authenticity is absolutely essential in consumer marketing, because this generation can see right through hype, and they have no problem calling out brands that are less than honest.

Impatient and Seeking Guidance from Influencers

Accustomed to employing technology to filter out the noise that comes along with today’s information avalanche, Generation Z is less likely to be influenced by someone that successfully markets to older people (a movie star, say), and more likely to be motivated by generational influencers, those with strong social media followings who have interests and desires that mirror their own. Influencers help them make sense of a deluge of information despite having relatively short attention spans. These influences often come to them via social media and are likelier to be an Instagram model or a YouTube personality rather than a star athlete or famous actor, for instance.

Just as consumer marketing had to evolve as the Baby Boom generation gave way to Generation X and the Millennials, it will have to evolve further as Generation Z comes into its own. By the year 2020, Gen Z will make up a sizable chunk of the primary consumer demographic, so the time to get ready is now.

Reaching them requires strong visuals, authenticity, and the absence of anything that appears to be “trying too hard.” The brands that get in front of these consumer marketing trends will be the ones most likely to reap the loyalty of this newest emerging generation. 

As a branding agency, Hangar12 is constantly looking for new ways to influence brands in various audiences everywhere. We believe in sharing this knowledge with our audience, and subscribing to our blog is a great way to stay informed: 

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