As difficult as it has been for companies to learn how to market to Millennials, it may be even more of a struggle connecting with Generation Z, also known as the iGeneration, or those who were born after 1994. This generation is beginning to graduate high school and college and will soon become a major part of the consumer group. By 2020, iGens will make up 40% of all consumers, reported Fast Company.
The major theme for understanding and marketing to Generation Z is technology. They have grown up with technology and social media practically all their lives, and it is no surprise that they place much of their trust in it. A Schneider Associates' 2014 Most Memorable New Product Launch survey found that 81% percent of iGens use social media to research new products, and only 44% learn about new products from television ads, reported Harvard Business Review. They are also willing to connect directly with companies using social media, 60% even said they would contact a prospective college through it.
It is important not just to use social media, though, but actually engage iGens and personalize their experience with a brand. Using the interests that they share on social media can be a good starting point for companies. A report by Deep Focus found that 44% of Gen Z members are not opposed to advertising, as long as it applies to them, reported DigiDay. They are also more interested in ads that are humorous, have good music or are inspiring. They like to see "real people" in ads, and are more willing to seek information from friends and peers, even strangers, rather than organizations or brands.
There have also been studies that suggest iGens have very short attention spans, and can't focus for a long time. Fast Company views it a bit differently, saying they have "highly evolved eight-second filters," meaning they have access to a lot information, but very little time, and need to evaluate if content is important in only eight seconds. It is important for brands to learn how to get past these filters so they can get their message across to Generation Z consumers. Additionally, iGens place a lot of importance on money, and 39% in Deep Focus' study say they would rather "save money than spend," so making a product seem like it is worth the time and investment should be a priority for companies.
It may be a challenge to pin down exactly what members of Generation Z value and what they want from a brand, but companies certainly need to adapt their marketing techniques to appeal to iGens quickly as they come closer to becoming a major consumer force.
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Jennette has been with The Food Institute since 2013. As Marketing Director, she is responsible for promoting all Food Institute books, seminars and webinars, as well as writing and editing the Food Institute’s annual publications, such as Food Business Mergers & Acquisitions, The Food Industry Review and The Almanac of the Canning, Freezing, Preserving Industries. Additionally, she writes for and edits the daily news update, Today in Food, and contributes to the weekly Food Institute Report. She has a background in non-profit and environmental marketing, programming and writing, and graduated from Rowan University in 2012 with a degree in Communication Studies.
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