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Get to know Generation Z

gen-z_main[Editor’s Note: Welcome to the next demographic group, Generation Z. These are the people who will be your clients, your employees and the members of your juries.]

College admissions offices are already aggressively changing recruiting tactics to appeal to Generation Z. Randstad North America is already advising em­ployers how to manage the soon-to-be Gen Z-infused workforce.

So who are Gen Zs and why are they starting to overshadow the much-dis­cussed 20-to-35-year-old millennials, alias the Generation Ys?

The Gen Zs are true native learners, a tech-savvy group of 5-to-19-year-olds defined as those born after 1996. Let’s start with some data, shared by nation­al branding group, Ologie. The approxi­mately 77 million millennials, the cur­rent largest demographic segment, are dropping by 2 percent a year between 2015-2025, while the 68 million Gen Z members are increasing annually by the same percentage.

Gen Zs will thus represent 40 percent of all consumers by 2020, and have a whopping $44 billion in buying power. Such a large and emerging segment cannot be ignored by effective market­ers.

There are already numerous studies of this influential Gen Z market group that highlight its general traits.

Gen Zs seek transparency, values, au­thenticity and ideals. They prefer per­sonalized content and experiences and believe they will be the ones to make the world a better place. Their technical skills are making them better aware of world issues, cultures, and sensitivity to social causes.

They did not grow up in traditional families (think “Modern Family”) but mirror their parents’ values and ap­preciate them as a support system. Per Neilsen, they watch “The Voice” with their family, but 80 percent of them scroll through an internet device while watching a television screen.

They live in a noisy digital world where 73 percent are connected within an hour of waking up. They are not just mobile first — rather they are almost mobile only. They would give up clothes, allowances, etc., rather than their WiFi, phones, or texts.

Contrast with millennials

They have notoriously short attention spans but are quick decision-makers and good researchers. Whereas millen­nials rely on emails and FaceBook, Gen Zs prefer communications via messag­ing apps (think Instagram, Snapchat, Vine and YouTube) with easy views on mobile devices via responsive design.

Recent studies indicate expanded use of short videos will get their attention. Vine, for example, is a video loop format that tells a story visually and creatively in just six seconds. Social and online ads do influence their buying decisions, but perhaps less so than for the millennials. Gen Zs despise spam, so you need to get them to buy in to get your messages .

Gen Zs are increasingly worried about online and offline security/safety issues, are sensitive to pricing, and are collaborative, entrepreneurial, and good listeners. They seem like a very likable group of independent thinkers.

Ranstad’s tips for engaging this group in the workplace include creating mentoring experiences for them, giving them some control over their space and work habits, keeping them busy (they are inherent multitaskers) and inter­acting with them regularly.

Ologie’s tips for recruiting/advertis­ing to this short-attention span group is to be authentic in your brand offering, explain what your business or organi­zation stands for, and clearly reflect di­versity of interests and culture in your visuals and digital assets.

Personal relationships, like the one Taylor Swift has carefully created with her “Swifties” fan base, and the custom­ization of Converse shoes in its “Made by You” campaign, are cited as exam­ples of successful Gen Z promotional approaches.

Other relevant marketing tips to ap­peal to the Gen Z group are to humanize your company and create a personality, provide nuggets, not treatises, of infor­mation, and provide real quality in your products and services.

It is definitely time to start or expand your understanding of Gen Zs.

Glenda LeGendre is principal of Stra­tegic Marketing and Communications and can be reached at [email protected]­cast.net.

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