Why brands must listen to Generation Z

Why brand value matters to Generation Z

We’ve heard a lot about the ‘millennial’ generation, those thirty-something’s born between the early 1980’s and early 2000’s. Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook is one, so is Miley Cyrus, founder of her own brash style of self-promotion.

Generation z

Generation z

But now we have another generation and from the sounds of it, may end the archaic phenomenon of using marketing-speak to define who we are. In reality, every generation will have its own Warren Buffet, Michelangelo, Freddie Mercury, Shakespeare and even its own Stalin. So in reality, there is no real generation-in-a-box that the marketers like to use. What we do have are evolving societal trends that transcend generations but where there are concentrations of habits, expectations and fears that are shaped by events of the day.

For those born after 2000, they are Generation Z.

So let’s take a look at who this generation is:

Age:

This new supergroup was born after 2000.

Wealth potential:

With the oldest still in secondary / high school, they are predicted to be flush in billions in spending power. To marketers struggling to connect to audiences through a landscape of ever-expanding touch-points, Generation Z holds the promise of untold wealth.

Life expectations:

Unlike the millennial generation, Generation Z has operated with open eyes from the start. With the global financial meltdown and ensuing great recession, Generation Z is cast as the story of innocence lost. They are defined as more hard-working and anxious about the future, and who could blame them, the rate of underemployment and employment is very high as is the level of college debt that many can expect to incur.

The numbers:

In the US alone, there are an estimated 60 million Generation Z which means that almost one-in-five native-born Americans are constituents. Globally, the number is close to 2 Billion. It goes without saying that their sheer numbers alone will matter to any marketer, be they selling food, clothing or financial services.

What make them different:

Two words; Digital technology! Unlike millennials, Generation Z is a true digital native. Many do not remember a time before social media in a similar way that many of our generation do not remember life before TV. So in this respect they are different. And with this ever-expanding digital landscape, it seems attention spans are decreasing at an equal rate. Today, if anything, marketers need to stand out and shine at that very moment Generation Z has a need. If not, brands will lose out!

More anonymity, less publicity:

Yes, odd as this may seem, Generation Z is more privacy conscious which has resulted in the growth of platforms like Secret or Whisper as well as Snapchat. Generation Z appears to be very aware of their personal brand and the best way of protecting it is by not screwing up with bizarre postings that can last an eternity on the web.

More like their grandparents

Shaped by the uncertainty of the Post-9/11 wars, global financial meltdown and Great Recession, Generation Z will take a more cautious approach to the world and how they manage their own lives. Who could blame them? With high education costs and less job certainty, many have been forced to learn quickly that they will need to be practical and resourceful. And perhaps like their grandparents, the so-called Silent Generation that grew up between the 1920’s and ‘40’s, while shaped by tough times, this was the wealthiest of generations and perhaps a cue to the future of Generation Z.

Doing a social good really matters:

Generation Z values social responsibility and social giving. For any brand, it must strive to raise its game and prove that its core philosophy is greater than simple commerce or the chase of profits. It must also show it can deliver a real social value to the communities within which it operates and gives back to those same communities. Brands that can meet those expectations will be on a sound footing to meet the needs and receive the approval of the next generation, Generation Z!

Frank Conway is founder of MoneyWhizz.org, the financial education initiative.

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