27 May 2024 09:59

Advertising & Marketing

Look out marketers, here comes Gen Z!

The end of the year is approaching and Kantar Millward Brown has just issued its 2017 Media & Digital Predictions. As usual the predictions are packed with thought-provoking ideas, but the one that stood out for me was Joline McGoldrick’s prediction that marketers will shift attention from Millennials to Generation Z.

Given that media and marketers appear to have been fixated with Millennials, it seems a pretty safe bet that they will soon turn their attention to the up and coming Gen Z: people born between 1997 and 2011. After all, they represent over a quarter of the people on this planet. Before too long Gen Z will be buying groceries, household appliances and insurance just like their predecessors.

As Joline notes, Gen Z is completely immersed in the digital world and so, unlike many of their predecessors, they take digital for granted. They do not think about it any more than a fish thinks about water. And that presents some huge challenges for brands. There is going to be no excuse for haphazard or inauthentic marketing. Gen Z will want digital experiences to be as compelling and authentic as anything else in their lives.

If marketers are going to be effective in reaching out to this audience the first challenge is to distinguish what really sets this generation apart from older people. Right now, many of Gen Z are still at school, living at home and not responsible for shopping beyond their own specific needs. They have more time in their lives for activities outside work and school. So which attitudes and behaviors will change as they age and which will stay the same? To be well-positioned for the future, brands need to tap into longer-term motivations not just appeal to what people do now.

One thing I think we can be sure of, Gen Z is going to be more fickle than previous generations. This is in part because they have the ability to access new ideas and content at the touch of a screen, but also because ‘fish streaming’ is facilitated by social media. Seeing and hearing what their friends do and think on an hourly basis means that trends and fads will be quicker to take off and be quicker to die. This is another reason why marketers need to dig deep and connect with underlying motivations not just the superficial behaviors.

Finally I believe that Gen Z is likely going to be less accepting of interruptive marketing than older generations. Their expectations of immediacy are likely far higher and so they will be far less receptive of anything that interrupts what they are doing. Marketers may need to think more about when is the right time to make contact, for instance, identifying behaviors and content consumption that indicate boredom and a need for distraction, rather than demanding people’s attention all the time.


Written by Nigel Hollis, Executive Vice President and Chief Global Analyst at Kantar Millward Brown

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