Generation Z may make up the youngest market of active consumers, but don’t underestimate their power. According to Sara Spivey, CMO of Bazaarvoice, they make up about a quarter of the US population and they have $44 billion in direct purchasing power — which makes them very desirable as consumers.
Spivey led the discussion on Generation Z with three other panelists: Kate Beckman, CEO and founder of Fresh U, Mimi Banks, founder of MB Social, and Monica Dreger, Global Consumer Insights Strategist at Mattel, Inc. Together, the four women provided insights into the generation as consumers and how advertisers can grab their attention.
The panel began by providing a background of facts and statistics about Generation Z to give a deeper understanding of how this group thinks in a consumer role. One of the main points the panelists shared is that the people in this generation have grown up completely surrounded by technology and it has shaped many aspects of their lives. According to Spivey, being so connected through technology has allowed the generation to be more aware of what’s happening globally, socially and politically. Dreger also added that because information is so at-the-ready on the internet, parents no longer act as pillars of information. This leads to a more democratic sense of family where the kids are able to have greater influence on decisions including what purchases to make.
Beckman elaborated on the insights about Generation Z by sharing information she gathered through a survey of the generation’s population. One thing her survey found is that traditional advertising just isn’t working on the generation. According to the survey, members of Generation Z are overwhelmingly most likely to try a product if it’s recommended by a friend (instead of influencers or traditional advertising). Influencers were their second choice, and traditional advertising was their last.
When speaking about traditional advertisers, Beckman said, “even if you have all this data [on Generation Z] and you are able to create a targeted ad to be able to get into the space to reach them, it doesn’t mean that the advertisement is going to be welcomed by them or resonate with them just because you have all of their demographic info.” So how do you reach this generation?
Through her work in the beauty industry, Banks has found three basic ways you can grab the attention of Generation Z. First, Banks said to think about the content you’re producing and make sure it’s as democratic as possible. Because the generation is so socially aware, they are attracted to products and content that are inclusive of everybody.
Second, Banks said to think about the overall campaign. She believes the campaigns also need to feel as democratic as possible. All components of the campaign including the imagery and associated hashtags need to avoid being polarizing and extend across all demographics.
The final key to grabbing the attention of Generation Z, according to Banks, is to pay attention to the community of the brand. Members of the generation who belong to a brand’s community will tell you directly how to reach them. “If you pay attention and you listen, or even ask them, for sure they will tell you what they want to hear, what they want to see, what they like and what they don’t like,” Banks said.
Because Generation Z is so democratic and diverse, Dreger believes segmentation of the generation as a consumer market needs to become more customized. She also said that the segmentation needs to be based on behaviors and needs — not demographics.
“Hopefully in ten years from now race won’t even be part of the whole segmentation, who cares,” Dreger said, “demographics will be something that we laugh at … instead, it will be based on what are [the consumers’] needs, what are the values, what are people like, what do they do and nothing to do with what they were born with or not.”
By focusing on behaviors and needs, and using micro segmentations, traditional advertisers can still reach Generation Z. According to the panel, advertising to this market just needs to be less focused on the data and more focused on listening directly to what the consumers want. Generation Z is powerful, and with the right insights, you can still make them care about your brand.