Here come the true digital natives
Generation Z are the consumers of the future – what do they expect?
We take a closer look at what characterises the new wave of consumers, what distinguishes them from the baby boomer, X and Y generations, and what requirements this places on the future strategies.
Time to look towards the Z.
Generation Z is coming, and they have spending power. That is why it is time to start shifting our focus from generation Y to Z, so we are ready to hit the first true digital natives at the right points of contact.
Generation Z is defined as being born in the mid-1990s or later, and are thus in the 12-20 age group now. This means that the first year groups in generation Z now have their own resources, just as they are getting involved in trade unions and interest groups. But what characterises the new generation, and how do we reach them?
The second screen generation
Generally speaking, their focus is very much digital, and they consider the smartphone as an extended part of their bodies.
Generation Y has long been on the receiving end of hype as the consumers of the future. However, now the next generation is waiting in the wings, and it places new demands on communications and marketing departments.
Whether in class, during lunch hour or over dinner, the displays are lit up. For them, the smartphone is an indispensable platform for interaction and activity.
In this context, a key concept is the “second screen” – a phenomenon that distinguishes them significantly from other generations. Generation Z is characterised by having the approach that the mobile phone is naturally integrated as an element in communication.
This may be through QR codes in the middle of a TV program, as a tool for augmented reality or an element in a competition. Either way, they switch effortlessly from one platform to another and therefore live the idea of nonline communication to the fullest.
They expect the same communication to flow freely from platform to platform, and they specialise in multitasking. The Zs do not distinguish between digital and analogue, but completely erased the lines and consider both to be conventional media. In practice, this means that synergy and integration are key to the future strategy.
They are social to the fingertips
Where both baby boomers and generation X and Y see Facebook as a relatively personal medium, Zs take a completely different view. They are social to the fingertips and use Facebook actively to interact with both brands, educational institutions and businesses.
They share their lives with others and do not distinguish between their digital and private person. They also make their purchase decisions through social media, where their network’s recommendations play a key role. They are skilled at navigating the advertising noise and assessing the credibility of communication. They switch off if something becomes traditional advertising, and rather demand to be convinced and inspired before they make a purchasing decision.
They want to be involved – take advantage of that
And the inspiration part is central to the Zs. They want to be inspired and, even better, involved. To them, co-creation is a natural part of the way people interact with brands, and they contribute with both energy and commitment – and that distinguishes them significantly from other generations.
If a company knows how to involve Zs in new products, activities and initiatives, the foundation for a future customer has been laid. With their MyBurger project, which had Generation Z as the primary target, McDonald’s is an excellent example.
They received more than 68,000 suggestions for a personal burger, in a campaign that moved across all platforms, ranging from the physical restaurant to Facebook, outdoor and website. And that is exactly the nonline thinking that delivers tangible results with future consumers.
The Zs do not distinguish between digital and analogue, but completely erased the lines and consider both to be conventional media.
They share content – support that
Zs want to show themselves off to the world – and that makes them really good at sharing content. Whether it is their own take on a music video, a burger or a pair of shoes; they show it off on social media.
As the first generation, they have really taken to the viral element of social media, where previous generations are much more restrained. Therefore, as a company you must provide them with opportunities to share content – preferably something that they have created or influenced themselves. That creates maximum, viral effect, and the strong base of personal recommendations which Zs very much act on.
A campaign like Nike SB understood how to make the most of that. The campaign is based on viral videos of famous skaters in Nike gear that subsequently encourage the audience to share their own videos of themselves skating – in Nike clothes and shoes, of course.
They use many platforms
Where previous generations still stick to the traditional digital platforms, Zs spread across a much broader range. They are active on YouTube, Instagram, Vine, Snapchat, Foursquare, Facebook, Messenger, etc. – all the time and simultaneously.
This means that, as a communications and marketing department, you must involve more platforms than previously. Zs markedly open up the spectrum of contact points, and that offers plenty of exciting opportunities to target them with communication on the premises of the target group. It also emphasises that the cross-channel strategy is more necessary than ever.
And if it is relevant, inspiring and engaging enough – they are very happy to listen. And if you really want success with the consumers of the future, this is the first step towards results.
Generation Z – 10 quick facts
• They largely base their purchasing decisions on recommendations from others • They quickly adapt to new technology • They are experts in media-multitasking • They easily filter away advertising noise • They are tough in their assessment of the sender’s intention for communication • They are always online via their smartphone • They have erased the lines between digital and analogue communication • They want to be involved and inspired • They very much share private content and recommendations with their network • They view digital communication in the same way as personal communication