What’s up with Gen Z?

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Gen Z has grown up in a world full of distrustful government leaders, increased awareness of privacy issues and generations laden with debt. This has only made them distrustful of authority and big brands. Thanks to their Gen X parents, they are more realistic that opportunities are not boundless (unlike Millennials) and that they need to continue to master new skills to stay relevant. Below are a few Gen Z insights to keep top of mind to get a grasp of what this generation is all about.
Quick Facts:
  • Gen Z is categorised as people born between 1996 and 2011
  • Material-related desires, such as driving a nice car, have become less important with having fun, travelling, creating deep connections and having a more meaningful life rising in importance to Gen Z
  • Have an 8-second attention span
  • Gen Z spend up to 11 hours per day on social media
  • More money conscious than Millennials
Hard work pays:
A stark difference from Millennials, this is a generation that is hardworking and does not expect to be lavished with praise and rewards at the smallest drop of a hat. Brands need to find a way to help them further their professional and personal lives. They have seen that millennials expect to be given things and realized that hasn’t always happened, so they feel a real responsibility to work hard and achieve goals for themselves.
Authenticity is key:
Growing up in a digital age, Gen Z has been able to spot sales pitches fairly easily and disregard flashy advertising to be shallow and not relevant. Authenticity has been seen as a crucial factor to connect with brands; where there has been a real effort put in to understand the audience and what is relevant + interesting. Reality over aspiration, where information from the horse’s mouth holds the greatest value and not the shiny packaging it comes in.  According to research from Wundermann“They want to see their world in the ad world, they want it to be realistic. They don’t expect perfection. They don’t want to see a model with their hair blowing back in a cornfield, putting on mascara. They know that’s not true.”
Co-creation is the new User Generated Content:
Personalised interactions with brands allow Gen Z to create their own unique experiences. According to research conducted by Kantar Millward Brown Gen Z is characterized as heavy users of social platforms and oppose ‘homogeneous’ global advertising campaigns. They are much more attracted to ads that allow them to co-create or shape what happens, which is a contrast to Gens Y and X, who have a higher preference to links that have more information about the brand.
Channel preferences:
Even though Gen Z is seen to spend most of their time on digital platforms consuming data, they are also the generation that hates invasive ad formats the most. They are seen to be generally more open to outdoor and TV ads and have perfected the art of glossing over all digital advertisements that are thrown their way. Branded content is seen to be harder working than the dreaded skippable online ad formats where the art of storytelling earns it buck.
The importance of design:
Research from BD Network shows that Gen Z is known to be visual communicators, where they are best able to express their emotions through images. With a keen eye for design aesthetics, this generation is used to an on-demand world of infinite choices. They are seen to be extremely design conscious and look for brands that are able to reflect their own ‘unique’ personalities. They are quick to shut out brands that flaunt the obvious ‘stock imagery’ as not putting enough effort into its communication.
Privacy concerns to the fore:
Research by Wunderman revealed that Gen Z is the most conscious about the volumes of personal data that brands collect from them. This is the generation that expects a value exchange for what they are handing over to brands. Three out of 4 worry about information companies collect on them and are resigned to that being a necessary evil. However, this generation is savvy enough to know exactly what they want, and expect, from brands. Gen Z is saying ‘You’ve got my data. What are you going to do? Better make it efficient for me.’ For marketers, the key shift would be not about more transactions but about making those transactions easier.
As Millennials start to mature, Gen Z is the current crop of newly forming adult identities. With that comes new statements in style, tastes and trends. Of course, this also provides the legion of marketers and communications professionals a new cohort to focus their attention on.

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