Why Gen Z Will Change Marketing

Posted: 19th of March 2019 by Lewis Scott

Gen Z represents significant marketing opportunity, but must be handled with caution

Gen Z – also known as iGen – are the newest named generation. Despite their youth – they are currently between 3 and 23 – this generation is the largest ever, making up a staggering 25% of the population.

With a significant buying power, this generation will certainly be of interest, not only to marketers looking to sell products and services, but to organisations looking for the next generation of talent. A percentage of them will have already entered the workforce, though it will be the job of the marketing industry to ensure they are attracting these digitally-native future marketers.

Getting to know Gen Z

Research indicates that Gen Z differs greatly from their millennial counterparts – and getting to know how they will influence the consumer space is crucial. James Delves, head of PR and engagement at CIM, says, “Gen Z are immensely important to marketers. Increasingly, brands are beginning to understand that they’re at the forefront of fashion and their influence extends far beyond their age group. It’s crucial that marketers recognise Gen Z are individuals, and their tastes, fashion, interests vary as much – if not more so – than other age groups.

The onus now is on businesses to identify these attitudes and utilise them to make authentic connections with young people. Gen Z are set to be the biggest buying group and as “digital natives”, their new demands will only increase as technology evolves. Marketing strategies must reflect this to succeed and brands who fail to, will do so at a great cost.”

And how might marketers approach them? Shane Phair, chief marketing officer at Campaign Monitor, says: “Gen Z is spending more time online than ever before. According to a recent survey we conducted, 45% of teens say they’re online 'almost constantly' and while a large portion of this time is spent on social media, it's also spent on email. Further, 58% of Gen Z respondents check their email multiple times a day. All this time online provides digital marketers with an opportunity to connect with Gen Zers personally and, as we know, it’s important for brands to treat these consumers as individuals and not as one homogenous group.”

Under the influence (and the Fyre Festival fiasco)

Is influencer marketing the answer for Gen Z? Marketing activity would certainly indicate so. A 2018 study from Forbes’s thought leadership platform OnBrand Magazine found that 79% of marketing decision makers will invest in influencer marketing this year, and 43% plan to invest even more than they did last year.

However, as events such as the infamous Fyre Festival show – a prime example of influencer marketing highly targeted to this younger demographic – influencer marketing is often not as straightforward as it first appears.

There is widespread contention over whether Fyre Festival is a prime example of influencer marketing’s power – with over 300 million impressions on posts by celebrities in just 24 hours – or damaging exposé of its pitfalls. Some have lauded the event “a great use case for influencer marketing”, while others point out that with only 8,000 tickets sold, the influencer campaign certainly did not deliver ROI.

Notably, following isn’t everything. Fyre Festival’s campaign was kicked off by the likes of Kendall Jenner, Bella Hadid and Hayley Baldwin, and monumentally ended by a tweet from @trev4president, whose 900 followers are dwarfed by Jenner’s 27 million. The tweet, which highlighted the disastrous catering at the festival, is hailed as being “the tweet that took down a festival”.

Despite the controversy around Fyre Festival, what is clear is that marketing needs to work harder than ever before to capture the attention of the next generation. Speaking exclusively to CIM’s member-only magazine, Catalyst, last year, Dom McGregor, co-founder of Social Chain said: “People often say that online audiences, and especially young ones, have a short attention span – but, really, it’s that they have a quicker understanding of whether a piece of content is right or wrong. We see thousands of ads and brand communications a day. I’ll listen to a podcast for an hour if it’s engaging me, but I’ll scroll straight past a video if I don’t want to watch it. Marketing needs to be savvier about what content it places there.”

A future career?

Gen Z are posing challenges within the context of consumer buying behaviours – but what about their workplace ambitions? The UK marketing industry employs over 400,000 people and generates £36.5 billion for the British economy, making it an exciting career prospect for Gen Z.

Last year, a CIM survey of 500 young people aged 17-19, who have left school or college in the past six months, found that four in 10 (41%) are interested in a career in marketing. Around a quarter (28%) felt the best way to embark on that career was by going to university, a fifth (21%) said a trainee marketing job, and 20% thought the best route was through an apprenticeship.

The research also found that young women are more likely (45%) to want to work in marketing than men (34%). Of those going to university, 38% said they would consider a job in marketing, compared to 44% of those not going to university.

With employer branding an increasing priority, and recruitment still firmly a buyer’s market, it is clear that organisations must make attracting Gen Z a priority – and market the opportunities available within the industry with renewed vigour.

The next generation

Certainly, Generation Z presents opportunity for marketers, and their needs must be taken seriously. Though they are young, they are now making buying decisions and career choices that will shape the marketing landscape. Marketers must be sure they are ready to meet the demands of this digitally-native, time-poor generation – both in terms of products and services, and job opportunities. Above all, it seems that authenticity is at the heart of this.

 

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