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Generation This, Generation That: Generation Z

The marketing sector can be a complicated place as new marketing tools and techniques are launched, almost on a weekly basis. Powered by The Drum Network, this regular column invites The Drum Network's members to demystify the marketing trade and offer expert insight and opinion on what is happening in the marketing industry today that can help your business tomorrow.

Gen Z

Generation this, generation that. Consumer groups today are mind boggling. Introduce the word millennial into the mix all sorts can happen for brands; messages are confused and tones are all wrong. BD Network have compiled ‘White Noise’, a whitepaper cutting through the white noise between generations and demystifying the rumours so that brands can understand their consumers better. BD Network will be rolling out Gen X, Y and Z over the next coming weeks. To kick off, we will begin at the end with Generation Z, or arguably…just the beginning.

Gen Z were born with a phone in their hand, between 1995 and the 2000s, growing up in a world where technology is nature and a life without the internet is not worth questioning. However, despite these luxuries, they have been born into a world of instability; poverty, recession and corruption, leading to a distaste for large corporate bodies and the government.

Fast thinkers

Gen Z are fast thinkers. “Blink, share, laugh, forget”, a phrase coined at The Future Laboratory which summarises Gen Z.

The best way to describe this is through the phenomenon of Snapchat. A Gen Z’er receives an image, laughs, cries, screams (delete as appropriate) and then it’s gone forever within 10 seconds. Research shows that Gen Z has an 8 second attention span. Their minds have developed to be able to process information at a quicker pace than older generations. So whilst you are still reading the nutritional content on the back of a cereal bar, Gen Z have already read it, snapped it, or posted it on Instagram with a number of emojis, understood the pros and cons of eating said cereal bar, eaten it, and moved on to Whatsapp to ask their friend what they think of Drake’s new video.

For brands, this means creating bite-sized, visual content that Gen Z can quickly digest and process. The more bite-sized pieces of information you can get to Gen Z, the further along their path to purchase you can push yourself – you just need to make sure you are saying things at the right place at the right time. After all, an 8 second attention span is a very savvy one.

Visual Language

Generation Z are visual communicators. From sending emojis in texts to Snapchatting their friends, they express their emotions through images. We know they work across 5 screens, tablets, phones, wearables, and so their attention span is small, meaning brands have seconds to grab their attention. Brands are now communicating with this audience through memes and hashtags, across social media platforms.

There has also been a comeback of the GIF, through giphy.com; the trend for lo-fi images now becoming the new cool. On the other end of the scale, we are starting to see new forms of visual communications coming through from start-ups such as Magic Leap.

Magic Leap are a platform that are looking to deliver something along the fine line that lies between biology, art and tech. They layer augmented reality over the real world, making real world environments more interactive. The company has been heavily invested in by big names, including Google, but we are still awaiting the big reveal. What we do know is that this is likely to be on Gen Z’s radar. It’s the possibility that really matters here; tech and nature become one.

Brands doing it well

Snapchat is a great platform to capture the attention of Gen Z, as it delivers bite-sized chunks of information that need to be acted upon immediately, before the images disappears forever.

ASOS are targeting Gen Z on Snapchat. Those that follow the brand get a back-stage pass to the brand’s photoshoots, product reveals, and unique discount codes. This quick-fire information is both on-trend and exclusive for Gen Z ASOS fans. ASOS claims that although they are gaining little data on their audience, the platform is still relevant as they are seeing high levels of engagement from Snapchat users.

Generation ‘We’ not ‘Me’

Generation Z have learnt from the mistakes of millennials, and really do want to change the world they are growing up in, from gender neutrality to saving the animal kingdom. Brands are already starting to tap into this hunger for change. WWF used Snapchat for a campaign titled ‘The Last Selfie’. The top 5 endangered animals in the world were photographed and sent out to social media users with the caption ‘Don’t let this be my last selfie’, in order to raise awareness of the rapidly declining numbers of the species. On the other hand, there is Mattel’s Barbie brand empowering young girls with the ‘Imagine the possibilities’ campaign.

The rise of the Teenage CEOs

Sparks & Honey, a cultural research agency, have predicted that Gen Z will be working multiple jobs when they reach their twenties. Employers will no longer see frequent short bursts of jobs as negative, this will become the norm. This fast-thinking generation will be able to cope with more work, and they might have to, because the futurists of today are right; Gen Z will be competing with the robots for jobs. Global is the new local, or ‘glocal’ as Gen Z are becoming some of the first teenage CEOs, something that was not possible pre-internet. Teenage CEOs such as Tavi Gevinson or Style Rookie, Robert Nay of Nay Games, and Maddie Robinson of Fishflops are seeing a net worth in the millions, with more success to follow.

Gen Z are a generation to keep our eyes on. Those that have not yet launched their own start-up will be entering the world of employment soon. This means the start of some spending power from this tribe, so brands need to think about delivering comms in clever bite sized chunks. For Gen Z, digital exists in their physical world and if a brand isn’t tuned in and online, it might as well not exist. They are fighting for change in the world and will continue to do so, brands that can help them will be winning. Gen Z will become a powerful consumer group, so it’s important that brands get to know them and stay on trend and relevant to them.

Alix Hope is creative strategist at BD Network.

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