It is becoming more difficult for companies to remain neutral on social, political, and cultural trends as Gen Z consumers become more comfortable flexing their more than $140 billion in spending muscle.
The young consumers who make up the generation ranging from middle-schoolers to 26 years of age make up about 20 percent of the U.S. population. Together with the Millennial generation before them, Gen Zers are becoming a marketing force that is driving change in the way advertisers connect with consumers.
What makes Gen Z Marketing so different is that the generation demands more from companies they patronize. That can include how those companies react to social, political, and cultural events. The Black Lives Matter protests of 2020 and the growing consciousness of global climate change concerns are examples of how Gen Z consumers can expect companies to support their positions on racial and environmental justice. If companies don’t share their values and beliefs as part of their consumer relationship, Gen Z consumers will find a brand that does.
The Gen Z consumers are also considered digital natives, a generation that has never known the world before smartphones existed. That forces companies to up their digital marketing game beyond the traditional advertising channels of television, print, and billboards into the still-emerging social media advertising platforms like Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok.
Even Twitter is promoting how Gen Zers are driving the conversation on its platform, long considered dominated by an older demographic more interested in news and commentary. Twitter recently reported that nearly half of all of the Tweets that were sent between May 2020 and May 2021 came from users aged between 16 and 24. While seemingly contradictory to the belief that the platform didn’t cater to younger users, the revelation also could be the result of Twitter’s more left-leaning movements and focus, which would align with younger, more progressive viewpoints on many key issues, according to Social Media Today.
The rise of smartphones means that Gen Z isn’t tied to the location of the television. They can watch whatever they want, whenever they want. Gen Zers can select from a wider variety of content at the swipe of a finger, much of it created by their own peer group. In order to cut through the noise, commercial interruptions need to be shorter to match the bite-sized nature of the content being consumed via social media.
The point is, companies have to experiment with these social media platforms. They no longer have the luxury of focusing all their efforts on, say, television ads because a large chunk of consumers – Gen Z particularly – aren’t locked into one marketing channel. Instead, they bounce around from one platform to another, finding content that interests them and moving on quickly if it doesn’t. This fact requires companies and marketers to create attention-grabbing and meaningful content that captures the imagination of the Gen Z consumer.