I am getting married soon and my ten-year-old bonus child (we like that better than “stepchild”) plays Minecraft like I played Pac-Man. Except I played in an arcade with tokens. He plays for free. In our living room. On a computer. While on FaceTime with his friends while they battle strangers from around the world.
Welcome to Generation Z.
We have gotten to know Gen X, are still learning about Y, and now we have to dig into the Z’s. I’m already exhausted…ZZZZZ.
From Boomers to GenZ we all have a context different than the one before us. So, who are these little Z people? They are our entire K-12 population. They are the core of youth marketing and, of course, future leaders of the world. Some call them “divergent” because they really are different. In the words of Dr. Christina McCale they are “diverging from everything most of us have ever grown up with, taken for granted or assumed was normal.”
So how do we describe these Z’s?
- Highly connected having had lifelong use of communication technology.
- In the US, the most racially diverse of any generation.
- They have redefined celebrity in such places as YouTube and Vine.
- In a world shaped by 9/11 and Columbine, they have a strong sense of social justice.
- At home, they are raised by statistically older parents.
- In the workplace, they will expect flexibility.
What does this mean as it relates to marketing? Don’t underestimate them.
While these kids with their faces buried in iPhones appear to be antisocial and poor spellers (LOL, JK, Bae), teens today are more like adults. They know more than we realize and they expect to be treated like adults, whether we like it or not. Their access to information and their ability to process everything is changing the way we teach and learn.
If this is an important target audience, don’t try to “dumb down” your marketing. Know their channels and learn how to speak to them on their turf. This generation is arguably the most multitasking in history; therefore consider creating cross-platform campaigns that increase awareness through a variety of mediums. (84% of Gen Z has admitted to browsing the Internet while watching TV.)
Be aware that they are very likely to share opinions about experiences with your brand, so remain sincerely engaged with this audience. What they care about most is finding and sharing the best stuff in the world. They are not just customers; they are curators. Don’t squash their conversation about you, join in!