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Gen Z aged female sitting on yellow armchair looking at smartphone

Call them what you want. Whether it’s Generation Z, Gen Z, post-Millennials, iGeneration, zoomers or Centennials, they’re coming into their own. Gen Zers are exploring ways to use their strong spending power. Born between 1997 and 2009, this influential demographic makes up 32 percent of the global population, outnumbering Millennials. 

More than 68 million Americans are considered Gen Z, according to the Census Bureau’s 2017 survey data. They are also the most racially and ethnically diverse population in the history of the United States. These Gen Z identifiers alone can tell you just how different and essential this generation is to marketers and influencers worldwide.

A Group of Gen Z women watching the sunset

What To Consider When Marketing To Gen Z

There’s much more that makes the demographic unique and a generation to contend with on all fronts. They’re also called rebels, revolutionists, disruptors and industry killers. (To be fair, Millennials have a reputation for killing off products and industries, too, like paper napkins.) 

The thing to remember most about Gen Z when marketing to them? Gen Zers have short attention spans. They want a fast story that conveys a lot of emotion and meaning in a meme, video, or emoji. And, they’re not as carefree as they may appear to be. There’s a lot of concern and serious, deep thoughts running underneath those emojis and memes.

Marketers should focus on video-based platforms like Instagram, YouTube, Twitch and TikTok. Generation Z also likes to spend time with friends online through gaming, with online multiplayer experiences like Fortnite and the popular mobile game, Among Us.

smartphone with tiktok app open for Gen Z marketing

Gen Z and Influencer Marketing  

Gen Z consumers can sniff out a fraud. They’re cynical and savvy enough to know when an influencer’s sponsored post is transactional rather than sincere and enthusiastic about the product or service. They can also tell if an influencer has authentic knowledge about the product, service or industry being promoted. It’s a harsh warning for the influencer market that they can’t pull the wool over the eyes of a Gen Z viewer. Never underestimate or force the concept of authenticity when it comes to Gen Z.

Gen Z Prefers Nano-Influencers

Once upon a time, any influencer with under 1K followers was often overlooked. However, this is no longer the case, especially since this is how the demographic prefers to learn about new products, services and ideas. They follow a few macro- and mega-influencers (i.e., Kylie Jenner or DJ Khaled, for example). But they aren’t so keen on influencers getting paid fistfuls of money for one post.

Generation Z prefers nano-influencers (with less than 1K followers) and micro-influencers (with 1K to 100K followers). Influencers with smaller audiences have hyper-dedicated captive audiences. That’s ideal for brands and appreciated by Gen Zers, who value real, down-to-earth, not-so-famous and honest people.

3 Lessons From Gen Z’s Greta Thunberg

Activist and Centennial Greta Thunberg is clearly a Gen Z influencer in her own right. She’s also more of a mega-influencer with 9.9M followers on Instagram and nearly 3M followers on Facebook. But she’s also a mirror of Gen Z’s values, behaviors and preferences. Brands and companies that want to stay relevant may benefit from studying Greta’s rise to fame.

  • Gen Z wants a purpose in life: Politicians and their supporters may belittle Greta as an inexperienced kid who knows nothing about life’s realities. Yet, she has the uncanny ability to rally together legions of Gen Z supporters of her own. The lesson: youth activism is not just a show; it’s a tangible way for Gen Z to have their voices heard.
  • Gen Z hates labels: Greta has been called a disturbed teenager. She also has Asperger’s syndrome. None of this matters to her Gen Z supporters. Her autism isn’t the issue with this generation, but climate damage is. She may be bullied by Baby Boomers in government, but her Gen Z counterparts don’t care less about her diagnosis. Gen Z is instead more impressed with the impact she’s having in the world.
  • Gen Z embraces imperfections: Greta isn’t a supermodel. She doesn’t have makeup artists doting on her every move or photo opportunity. Greta is natural, unadorned, authentic and a little unkempt. She doesn’t need designer duds to garner respect on the world stage. Gen Z prefers to witness an unfiltered, imperfect life.

The Future of Gen Z

As this generation matures into the world, it’s to be expected that certain habits and behaviors will begin to shift. What will remain the same, however, is that they’re genuine digital natives and technology is in their DNA. Whether it’s apps or email, you’ll know where to reach them.

In the best interest of marketers, avoid assuming that all Gen Zers are the same. They have unique, multicultural tastes in food and fashion, and crater-deep thoughts that are at once similar and dissimilar. What Gen Zers unquestionably have in common is that ubiquitous BS meter that will never quit working for them, and that should give marketers and older generations great pause.

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