We marketers have spent a life’s work trying to tune in and appeal to millennials. In comparison to Gen Z, they’re a doddle to understand.

Or maybe it’s just because I’m that bit older now and the generation born between 1995-2012 are so much younger than me? Thankfully, there’s lots of data out there which shows us how we can get down with the kids.

Avoiding guesswork

Second guess them at your peril. It’s really tricky to anticipate what Gen Z are going to go in for. Take the ‘cult of ugly’ that young shoppers are currently following – they’re buying from brands like Crocs and Birkenstocks which, not so long back, were the opposite of cool and hip. Or reigniting the emo revival on TikTok.

I do my bit in my personal time to try and keep up with youth culture. I’ve watched Top Boy, I’ve signed up to TikTok (mind officially blown) and Doja Cat is my go to Spotify playlist… but it’s not enough for me to be able to claim that I’m an honorary member of Gen Z, and to be able to create content that falls right into their wheelhouse (a turn of phrase they’d never use btw).

We need to survey the surveys, dig into the behavioural data and get some face time with Gen Zers to really understand what they’re all about. Here are five things I’ve found about Gen Z that might influence the content you create:

1. They don’t like ads but love influencers

·         Almost half (44%) of Gen Z has made a purchase decision based on a recommendation from a social influencer, compared with 26% of the general population (Kantar)

·         82% of Gen Z will skip ads as fast as they can if given the option, while 69% said that they will physically distract themselves for 30 to 60 seconds until the ad runs its course (Millward Brown)

That might sound like a contradiction in terms. After all, as we know, to make a living out of being an influencer, you have to take money for the product or service that you’re promoting. That’s advertising.

However, Gen Z knows this. What they appreciate is that the influencer offers a ‘middle ground’ where they point out both pros and cons, without any of the hard selling that comes with a traditional ad.

2. They’re a creative bunch

·         89% of Gen Zers in the UK see themselves as creative (National Youth Trends)

You only have to look at TikTok to see that active creativity is what this generation is all about. They’re not happy to be spectators when a new trend hits, they want to get involved, to feel a part of something bigger.

What does this mean for content? Ensure campaigns encourage their input – perhaps dangling the odd carrot along the way, or by making content interactive somehow (infographics, quizzes, polls, questions, or filters). Be creative!

3. They genuinely care about making the world better

·         51% of Gen Zers will always research a company to ensure it aligns with their position on corporate social responsibility before making a purchase (Forrester)

Where other generations were prepared to look past a brand’s impact on society at large when convenient to do so, Gen Z aren’t. Gen Zers are “truth barometers”, who can quickly judge a brand’s ethics and authenticity, and act accordingly.

So, if you create content around your social action, make sure that it hits the mark. If you’re seen to be merely “performative”, you can expect to be called out. Gen Z need brands to take a stance on issues – but not merely latch on to causes (Listerine is just one of the brands to find this out the hard way).

4. They’re moving into the workplace

·         By 2025, Gen Z will make up about 27% of the workforce (World Economic Forum)

·         58% of surveyed Gen Zers check their email multiple times a day (Campaign Monitor)

Not all Gen Zers are spending their days scrolling TikTok. Lots are already in the workplace, some are already young business leaders, and many more will rise to the top over the next few years.

Why do I point out the obvious? Well, when we discuss marketing to young people, we tend to automatically do so through the lens of B2C. But the findings in this blog – and others – increasingly apply to B2B, too.

5. They know what they like (and what they don’t)

·         Gen Zers have an 8-second attention span; this is shorter than millennial attention spans, which are 12 seconds long on average (IABUK) – it’s also shorter than a goldfish at 9 seconds!

·         A Horowitz study found that Gen Z split their viewing time rather evenly between long-form and short-form content: 46% vs 54% of their time. 

Gen Z are ruthless in making their mind up about whether to continue watching/reading a piece of content. It might be the TikTok effect or a product of them using technology since their early years – either way, you don’t have long to grab their attention.

Get straight to the point, and find a way to make your content seem instantly familiar to the demographic. Remember, they want content that appeals and speaks to them personally – and to not be too ‘in your face’ when it comes to product placement.

Feeling ready to go after the Gen Z demographic? Make sure you have all your data stacked up to give you the best chance of success. Here at Q Content, we can help you plan and produce Gen Z-focused content that’s based on the right foundations – no more crossing your fingers and hoping for the best. Email us today on info@qcontent.co.uk and let us know how we can help.

Ben
Ben Hollom

April 26, 2022