Considering Gen Z: Best Practices to Reach a Younger Generation (Part 2)

W5 takes special interest in crafting research approaches that meet the needs of specific consumer groups of interest. In this three-part blog series we will examine how best target and understand Gen Z in research studies, a consumer group considered the future of the global economy. In today’s post we will look at what differentiates Gen Z from other generational groups and what has influenced their world experiences and behaviors.

With Gen Z, then, it is important to consider and cater to their hyper-connectivity. Gen Z has been part of one of the most accelerated periods of technology development in human history. In fact, most members of this generation have never been very far away from a smartphone (even as babies) and that has supremely impacted how they make friends, absorb information, communicate, and buy products. The digital landscape may even feel more familiar to them and easier to navigate than their own neighborhoods or cities, considering the vast amount of time they spend online. Of course, this impacts how they engage with online content and build rapport with others. Consider the following:

  • They are early adopters. Technology is second nature to them and a constant companion. They are among the first to know of new apps, streaming platforms/devices, social media networks, games, etc. and trial them before the rest of the population. The see their phone as a tool for meaningful communication and would feel lost without it.
  • Messaging is a native behavior. Texting, Snapchat, TikTok, the list goes on. This generation loves using technology to create quick, quippy digital content to communicate with one another, share ideas, or start movements.
  • They are selective with content.  With a ton of information at their fingertips, Gen Z has been able to choose (for the most part) their content and communities. If your content, aesthetics, and tone are not hitting the right notes, this generation may choose to opt out and go elsewhere. 
  • Their social groups cross the boundaries of time and location. Geographic rules no longer apply when creating a social network and bonding with others. Zoomers can find “their people” online regardless of where they live. They can choose to interact with others who respect and reflect their values and create their own “tribe.”
  • They work hard at curating an online presence. Gen Z is skilled at curating an online personality that reflects how they want to be perceived. They build and dedicate stories on specific channels to specific people. They know when and where to post “stories” for maximum effect. Due to their hyper-savvy relationship with media and its reach, they are wary and critical of other marketing efforts.
  • Online resources are their most powerful weapons to create change. There is power in numbers and Gen Z knows how to tap into their cohort to create movements, but most exist in the online sphere including “blitzes” to disrupt political rallies, block messages that don’t represent their values of inclusivity and diversity, and even buy a large portion of their clothing from online thrift, vintage, and reuse stores as an act of environmental protection. This generation mobilizes to create positive change and supports causes they believe in.

Appearance, values, and presentation—especially in online and virtual mediums—are of extreme importance to Gen Z. They also most likely to value a new set of rules for socialization, flowing seamlessly between groups of people online and in-person as they mobilize to support causes they care about. They also appreciate diversity and inclusivity more than other generations, placing extreme value on online communities that can gather people of differing economic backgrounds, ethnicities, and gender identities together in one place.  For this generation, the self they create is constantly evolving—a place to demonstrate change and fluidity—and online communities help support them in this endeavor. 

Stay tuned for our next entry in this three (3) part series. On Tuesday, August 18th we will discuss how to design effective, dynamic research approaches to engage Gen Z audiences. To access Part 1 of the Gen Z series, please click here.

This thought-piece was developed from conversations with key vendors and web and book-based research from the following resources:

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