Why Understanding Digital Natives
Will Help You in Your Marketing Career
They’re the youngest generation of consumers equipped with an expendable income, currently occupying inner-city shopping centres and the checkout pages of the internet. They’re tech-savvy, ethically conscious and their sharp eyes are able to quickly dissect and see through an advert’s message.
Marketing to this demographic is especially difficult but, ultimately, extremely rewarding.
In 2020, 40% of consumers belonged to Gen Z - and so getting their attention now is integral to a long-term marketing strategy. To aid aspiring marketers in their quest to appeal to digital natives, we’ve outlined our top suggestions to help your brand or clients generate interest from the next generation.
What is the Generation Z mindset?
Unlike predecessors Gen Y, Gen X and the Baby Boomers, Gen Z (or post-Millennials) have different considerations impacting their shopping habits. The traits of individuality and moral ethics are widespread amongst Gen Z, profoundly influencing whether or not they want to hand their money over for certain products or to certain companies.
Nonconforming, ethically minded young people aren’t a new phenomenon - but they’re certainly growing in number and power as the world becomes increasingly connected. This mindset undoubtedly influences Gen Zers buying decisions, presenting a major challenge to certain industries (think plastic straws and diesel cars), but it also offers a big opportunity for sectors and brands willing to tackle world issues head on - whether environmental or social.
Understanding how this target audience thinks is critical for developing an effective strategy, which is something marketers across the globe should be thinking about sooner rather than later.
How has this mindset developed?
As Gen Z have grown up using a multitude of interconnected technologies, they’ve developed a distinct ability to decipher what is and isn’t an advert, blocking out unwanted digital noise with little to no effort - a strategy that has seen content marketing thrive while traditional online ads like webpage banners plummet out of popularity.
From a young age, social media has been an integral part of their lives, resulting in a consumer base with a naturally honed penchant for operating digital platforms. This differentiates them from previous generations - they have much higher expectations when it comes to your online marketing efforts and aren’t afraid to look for alternatives if a brand doesn’t meet them.
How can marketers increase their appeal to Gen Z
Unsurprisingly, appealing to such a sceptical demographic isn’t easy. Many marketers will tell you that driving sales is the core focus of their roles - and while this still is, and always will be, true, the way to secure initial and repeat sales has changed. Modern marketers should aim to:
- Focus on experiences that leave lasting impressions on their customers - transforming one-off shoppers into brand stakeholders. This can be achieved through experiential marketing techniques, adding value to a customer’s life beyond a simple transaction.
- Create genuinely useful content and resources that bring added value to your audience - this could be through a blog, podcasts, webinars or events.
- Be selective about the language they use. Gen Z are acutely aware and conscious of political correctness - and are quick to point out a brand’s blunder if they fail to follow suit. For example, if a company discriminates or even simply uses incorrect terminology, Gen Z can be quick to call them out - and this can ruin a brand’s reputation in today’s viral world.
- Promote word of mouth marketing, as Gen Zers are influenced by their peers’ purchasing decisions more than adverts. Consider harnessing user-generated content to capitalise on this through competitions or hashtags; social media is your best friend here.
- Have an eco-strategy and make sustainable changes to the company’s operations where possible. Gen Z are conscious of their impact on the Earth, so taking a stand in protecting it is guaranteed to help get you into their good books.
The Skills You Need, to Match the Skills Gen Z Have
As of 2018, the eldest of Generation Z have finished university and are already fiercely competing in the job market, looking to secure a steady income to support their post-graduation lifestyles.
With students who have achieved degrees in Business and Management Studies more likely to get a job three months after graduating than graduates from most other degree backgrounds, it’s no wonder that this qualification - and similar ones - are consistently increasing in popularity amongst UK students.
As a result, Gen Zers are constantly on the look-out for management opportunities - thanks to their strong interest in rising to the top of their game in as little time as possible. Their leadership skills are second to none, thanks to their experiences in dealing with an exceptionally diverse range of people both online and in person. So, targeting and marketing to them requires you to have strong personal skills that deliver your message directly and simplistically - and always with an added touch of wit and knowledge about cultural events that matter to them.
Start by following top social influencers - preferably those that are in your industry or an industry you’d like to get into - across Instagram, YouTube and Twitter to decipher the types of language most likely to make an impact. Social influencers hold significant sway with this generation and are becoming a staple part of many brands’ marketing strategies - so understanding how they work is crucial if you’re to be successful as a marketer.
Another important stepping stone to understanding this generation is to clue up on the way Gen Z react to events in the news and media. As a demographic that’s far more receptive to brand experiences and stories than traditional marketing techniques - and, therefore, the world around them - it’s key that you can capitalise on trends if you are to market to them effectively.
Further Reading from Skills You Need
Develop the skills you need to get that job.
This eBook is essential reading for potential job-seekers. Not only does it cover identifying your skills but also the mechanics of applying for a job, writing a CV or resume and attending interviews.
The overall positive impact on your career
Having the ability to put all of this into practice - or the knowledge to help you do this down the line - will certainly give interview candidates an edge over their peers. Some employers may be inexperienced when it comes to this demographic, and this should be met with positivity - as a window of opportunity - and not a drawback. If future marketers can bring fresh knowledge to the table, or at least demonstrate awareness when it comes to marketing to this generation, they’ll be set to advance in their careers - as Gen Z become increasingly more influential on marketing strategies.
This knowledge’s value doesn’t end there though; securing employment is just the beginning. Once a budding marketer has attained their first marketing role, the road ahead is bound to involve Gen Z more and more as time goes on as the majority of this demographic group reach an age where they have a considerable disposable income.
Get ahead of the competition and begin learning about what the future of marketing, and consumerism as a whole, looks like - and what you can offer a company in order to engage the most discerning generation of shoppers to date.
About the Author
Justin Isles is the Director of The Events Structure, the UK’s only single-source provider of state-of-the-art exhibition trailers, promotional vehicles and other event marketing solutions.