How to Shape Your Content for Generation Z Consumers
Get ready, because Generation Z has arrived. And while this brings fresh opportunities for content marketers and creators, it also comes with a unique set of challenges.
After all, Gen-Z is like no generation there ever was, and dare we say–there ever will be. Born with one foot firmly rooted in the digital age and the other in old-school values, the NextGen expects greater transparency, accountability, and personal validation from every online experience that comes their way, and they expect it fast.
According to a statistic, the post-millennial generation has a meager attention span of around 8 seconds. That’s all you get to grab the attention of the generation that is, more often than not, repeatedly shuffling between five devices. Yes, while Millennials had just a couple of devices to distract them (mostly a TV and a phone, or maybe a computer), Gen-Z is mostly engrossed in a smartphone, TV, laptop, desktop, and a tablet.
Further, if their high usage of social networks like Instagram, YouTube, and Twitch indicate anything, it’s that social status and community mean a lot to them. This generation is more likely to turn towards content and opportunities endorsed by their influential peers or idols (there’s a reason why the number of Instagram influencers is increasing by the day).
Some months ago, Taylor Swift urged her 112M-strong Instagram fan base to vote for Democrats in the midterm elections, nonpartisan voter advocacy group Vote.org registered a whopping 65K new voters. Talk about the power of persuasion!
The truth is that it’s not difficult to keep Gen-Z hooked to your content, and consequently to your brand. It’s just that you need to break the inertia of delivering content suited to an older generation.
According to a comprehensive study on Gen Z marketing, this generation already accounts for up to $143B in direct buying power with the potential to impact more than $665B in family spending. Furthermore, they are likely to comprise around 40% of consumers by 2020 — which is huge.
Not to forget, this generation believes in sharing excessively over social media. Whether it’s their favorite cat video, or a meme they can’t stop laughing at, or even their favorite products/brands from the market — this generation doesn’t shy away from being vocal on social media platforms. If you consider this, you’ll realize that Gen-Z has all the potential to make or break your brand. Connect to them, watch them share your content, watch your brand go viral. Stick to the older methods of content curation and marketing, watch them go.
Through this article, let’s walk you through some content experiences and perspectives that are more likely to click with this savvy, socially responsible, smart generation.
So here are some pointers that will help you understand what to expect when you’re connecting to the Gen-Z through content:
1) Know what you’re in for
The demographic group of these netizens can be beautifully described as old souls in young bodies. While they are completely tech-savvy, digital, social, and mobile to the core, their values seem to be aligned more with the baby boomer generation than with millennials.
Just consider this, while Gen-Z doesn’t remember a time when all of the world’s information wasn’t available at their fingertips in exchange for a little personal information, they have firsthand experienced the outcomes of sharing your private data without an understanding of how that might be used (or misused), as we saw during the Cambridge Analytica and Equifax data breach. As a result, they might be skeptical if you ask them for their personal details unless, of course, you provide complete transparency as to how and why will you be using that data. They need to know it all, and you have no reason to hide it from them.
According to a report by Salesforce, the trends in customer trust support this assumption. It finds that 91% of Gen-Z is more likely to trust companies only if they receive a clear explanation of how they intend to use their personal information.
Therefore, marketers, both content and digital, should create an aura of reliability that they can trade on before they expect the NextGen to take any action on the content. They must win every moment of trust to win the moment of truth.
Now, let’s get to some pointers that should definitely be kept in mind in order to best shape your content and content marketing for Gen-Z.
2) Gen-Z Values Diversity and Inclusion
Studies suggest that almost 60% of Gen-Z supports brands that take a stand on serious human rights issues. The NextGen really cares about engaging with brands that have values that align with their values. Brands need to support and enable the freedom to be yourself to connect strongly to the post-millennial generation.
But you can’t just Tweet a supportive hashtag and call it a day, hoping it’ll increase the influx of this generation to your brand. You need to walk the talk. You need to show them you care through your words, actions, and basically everything you do. As an example, Nike is one of the top Gen-Z-endorsed brands, and the Nike Women’s Instagram account routinely features photos of strong women of diverse backgrounds and body types.
A lesson to be taken here is to keep diversity at the center of any content you create. Try keeping it gender neutral, and create content on the things that matter in a broader perspective. The NextGen is not a big fan of self-obsessed brands, so repeatedly talking about yourself and your brand is really not a smart move. Be inclusive of everything, because, at the end of the day, your aim is to help your customers with their problems. Here, however, the customers have broader problems they need to address, the ones standing between us and human rights. So, whether or not you can directly solve any of those problems, there is no reason you should hold back from talking about them.
3) Snapchat is the Platform of Choice
Gen-Z is, without a doubt, way more private than their earlier generations. It’s evident in the fact that they favor ephemeral messaging applications over those that put the content under the public’s scrutiny.
More than half of Gen-Zers use Snapchat at least 12 times a day, says a recent study. According to the same study, one in five Gen-Zers, or approximately 21% of them, agree that Snapchat does influence their purchasing decisions — which is twice as much as millennials.
While they may be found on Facebook, Gen-Z considers it a mom and dad platform. To understand this with an example, take Taco Bell, and let things sink in. Their Snapchat filter was viewed at a record 220M-plus times during Cinco de Mayo 2016.
With the right combination of quirk and wit, brands can get teens to quickly snap and share their content.
4) Gen-Z Trusts Instagram and Youtube Influencers
Gen-Z is more likely to relate to an online peer than a supermodel or even a celeb spokesperson. That’s why they’re drawn towards influencers, who serve as the bearers of what’s new and exciting.
Leveraging this fact, Target, the eighth-largest retailer in the US, launched a new “Art Class” collection of clothing aimed especially at teens. For this, they partnered with a 12-year-old chef who owns a cookie business, a 10-year-old dancing maestro, and an 8-year-old surfing prodigy. These three, collectively, have over 10M followers on social media. This collaboration brought their product in the reach of people who were most likely to purchase them — the Gen-Zers.
So, while “Instagram Influencers” sounds like a farce, the fact is that it’s these very influencers who have what you need to reach the right audience. Whether you’re curating content for your product, or writing blogs, collaborating with decent influencers, preferably from a similar space will help more than you can anticipate.
Now that you’re familiar with almost everything you need to know to take the correct steps while attempting to reach the post-Millennial generation, let’s wrap it up by providing some quick tips for coming up with the content you need.
- Explore interactive content
- Collaborate with influencers
- Focus on quality, not quantity; short-form content does better
- Be authentic, be yourself. Take responsibility and support social causes
- Don’t – we repeat, don’t – lump in the Gen-Z with the millennials.
These are truly exciting times, with brands having to cater to the type of consumers they’ve never handled before. The ones with extremely quirky and sometimes outlandish humor, and the attention span worth two-blink of the eye. But hook them once and you’ll find them returning to you, over and over again.
The Gen-Zers are looking out for your brand, are you ready?