Forget the Myths: The Complexity of Gen-Z Simplified

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Generation Z, those born in the mid-90s and after, is about to become the largest group of consumers in 2020 with $143 billion in spending power. However, many marketers today make decisions about this diverse generation without the context of knowing who their consumers truly are.

Alex Gallagher, Chief Marketing Officer of UNiDAYS, busted myths and lent tips of how to decode the digital generation not many understand yet.

There are a lot of myths revolving around Gen Z. First, most are quick to assume that 100 percent of this generation is digital natives because they were born during a time when the internet was already in existence. Surprisingly enough, though, 74 percent do not use Facebook Live, and 64 percent do not listen to podcasts. Next, it is believed that they are not susceptible to traditional media tactics. However, 77 percent read printed ads, and 84 percent take notice of out-of-home advertisements.

The myths continued from their unwillingness to pay for phone apps to not caring about data privacy, and the most stereotypical of all — their cellphone always comes first.  Gallagher debunked all of the myths with statistics critical to understanding this mysterious generation. Sixty-six percent pay for music apps, such as Spotify or Apple Music; 58 percent do not trust Facebook with their personal information; 64 percent strictly use their mobile device for browsing only.

Of all the things Gen Z could care about, though, the one thing that stands out in their minds in a world full of marketers is a businesses’ brand. According to Gallagher, against general assumptions, brand marketing is not dead but rather more alive than ever. It is a necessity to now combine e-commerce and brand marketing to form something new that soars even beyond Gen Z’s expectations.

So, what can businesses do to create a brand that Gen Z is interested in? Gallagher shared his five tips.

The most important: do your homework — know what your audience does and does not like. Ninety-eight percent of marketers do not interact with Gen Z enough, and only one percent actually speaks with this generation and takes actions from their thoughts and opinions. Gallagher referenced the Kendall Jenner and Pepsi commercial as a market failure from the marketer not understanding the generation, and instead of a successful commercial has resulted in a widely circulated internet meme.

Other tips were to approach Gen Z as a collaborator for the brand and not as a consumer; realize that the people who represent a brand are assets to the company; speak Gen Z’s language, but do not fake it. The last tip: become a brand that embodies specific values and invests in the future.

Generation Z wants authenticity and a brand that stands for something more than what they are trying to sell. UNiDAYS conducted a survey, and over 11,000 Gen Z college students responded. Sixty-one percent believed brands are better positioned than the government to solve societal issues, and 44 percent thought brands were an essential way to express their personal social and political views.

This generation cares about more than just their social media following and instead is attentive to world problems and their future. They want to be inspired by a brand that will leave a lasting impact. By investing resources and time to understand this complex generation, companies will yield favorable, lasting results.

Allysan Melby

Writer at Advertising Week
Ally is a junior at the University of Wisconsin- Madison in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, double tracking in reporting and strategic communication while earning a certificate in digital studies. After college, she hopes to work in Public Relations or in large company as a brand journalist. Ally is very excited to have the opportunity to be a part of Advertising Week New York this year and hopes to return to New York after graduation.
Allysan Melby

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