5 Inherent Values Gen Z Brings to the Marketing Discipline
By: Jessica Neville, Senior Strategist, Dagger
June 3, 2019
As marketers, we’ve been hearing about millennials for years, vying for their attention and yearning for their spending money. But the generation behind millennials—Generation Z—is currently redefining what it means to be a consumer, and as marketers, we should be thinking of Gen Z as our next star employee.
Gen Z, or those born after 1996, will surpass millennials in percentage of the general population this year. For marketers, it’s increasingly important to understand the generation that will eventually dominate brands’ target audiences.
Born well into the internet age and raised in a different cultural climate, Gen Z brings five unique values into the workforce:
Gen Z was born into the digital era, never knowing the struggles of snail mail, pay phones or the much-maligned load times of dial-up internet. Digital is their native means of communication—and they’ve watched brands and consumers alike fail to use digital in meaningful ways. Gen Z has a deep understanding of how best to use digital for connection, expression and content consumption, providing deep insight into how brands can use the space to connect with consumers in smart and relevant ways.
Having been around computer technology the majority of their lives, Gen Z has experienced the process of learning via the internet, ever-aware of the vast set of resources at their fingertips. Many Gen Z-ers have forged new paths toward building businesses, in addition to—or instead of—a traditional college degree.
Gen Z’s entrepreneurial spirit gives it a leg up in a variety of industries and makes Gen Z-ers an asset in going after new business opportunities. The generation is uniquely adept at problem-solving, having become accustomed to figuring things out on the fly using technology.
As the last U.S. generation to be majority non-Hispanic white, Gen Z is the most racially and ethnically diverse generation in America. Gen Z-ers have embraced multiple cultures, shifting their cultural identity beyond simple definitions of race and ethnicity. They are also more behaviorally diverse than other generations and see gender identity as more fluid. According to the Generation Nation study, while more than 90% of Boomers, Gen X-ers, and Millennials report they are straight, only 73% of Gen Z self-identifies as such. This massive cultural shift demonstrates that the way Gen Z thinks about culture and identity is fundamentally different from previous generations.
With limitless access to news, products and trends and countless opportunities for connection and consumption, Gen Z has a deep understanding of other cultures and sub-cultures. All of this perspective is extremely valuable for agencies and organizations seeking to bring a diversity of people and thought together, fueling the best thinking for clients and consumers. Having them on your team may also ensure you avoid social faux pas that we too often see brands blindly falling into (I assure you, the Kendall Jenner Pepsi commercial was not a Gen Z idea.)
Content Consumers and Creators
This generation constantly consumes content and uses different media than other generations. For Gen Z, television is quickly becoming a distant memory. Gen Z relies on streaming, expects everything on-demand and lives on social media. Members of Gen Z are drawn to platforms like Snapchat and TikTok that provide more contained levels of communication—making them experts on how to use those mediums appropriately.
Additionally, they are creators, doers and innovators—and some are influencers. If you’ve ever spent time on TikTok, you’ll see countless videos of Gen Z-ers sharing skits or dances they’ve created. (In other words, they’ve learned how to acquire a digital audience early on.)
In creative environments like ours where we compete for consumer attention, understanding the habits and behaviors of content consumption—and having experience in that creation—makes Gen Z an invaluable asset.
Gen Z is not afraid to speak up or speak out. The group connects and communicates directly with celebrities and politicians on Twitter to make their voice heard. Their ability to speak up and bring ideas to the table should not be underestimated and their potential for growth is limitless.
The most obvious advantage of hiring Gen Z is that they can be your in-house subject matter expert when it comes to reaching their generation, which brands will increasingly be looking to do.
Gen Z is extremely savvy about the world we live in. This generation of self-starters, self-learners, and self-motivators are starting to enter the workforce—and as marketers, we’d be remiss not to take notice.
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