What is Generation Z and why should you worry?
One of the first non-written lessons in Marketing is: “know your client”.
We constantly insist on finding Customer insights; what is deeply driving your customer’s behavior.
Since we all have been raised by older people than us; our parents, we tend to know better the older generations rather than the younger ones. It is inevitable.
However, the younger generations tend to be more important when defining an average product, since they will become your future customers while past generations have already their preferences well defined.
We all have heard about the “Millennial” generation: Those born between 1980 and 1995 approximately (there is not an exact definition).
But what is Generation Z?
The Generation Z, or Gen Z, is the generation following the Millennial generation: everybody born from 1995 on.
It is mainly characterized for being the first generation born with Internet.
By studying this generation you’ll be able not just to improve your Marketing campaigns but also plant the seeds that would eventually grow in the near future.
We are not sociologists, so the advice we are about to tell you come from direct professional experience.
First of all, lets establish the difference between Millennials and Gen Z (or Post-Millennials):
Difference between Millennials and Generation Z
It is not easy to establish a clear difference between these two generations since it would depend on the country, city and economical status of the people analyzed.
* For example: If somebody had been born in 1992 within a rich family in London, he would have more Gen Z characteristics (although Chronologically he would be Millennial) than someone born in the 2000’s within a poor family living in a country with practically not Internet at that time (chronologically, would be Gen Z).
In order to understand better which are the differences between these two generations (from a Marketing standpoint) lets compare their:
- Purchasing Habits.
- Brand loyalty.
Millennials Purchasing habits
Characterized for being a “cherry-pick” generation, they are not as worried as their parents for having assets, but they like having certain whims:
- A nice Mobile phone.
- A nice bike.
- An urban car, etc.
Lets say that 80% of the time, Millennials tend to choose the most practical option: The one with best Quality/Cost ratio.
However, 20% of the time, they choose a “fashion-trend” option, no matter how much it costs (something impossible for the Baby-Boomers) providing it is less than a monthly average salary (not more than $1.500 approx):
- $1.000 mobile phones.
- $1.300 fashion bag.
- $600 wallet, etc.
This last aspect is very important: Millennials like the trends, and spending money on them providing they don’t have to save a lot of money for it… just an affordable amount of it while in the past, some Baby-Boomers were able to save money for years, just for purchasing the car of their dreams.
Generation Z Purchasing habits
Although it is difficult to establish a hard statement (Gen Z is relatively young) they surely look more for solutions than for certain assets.
Netflix is the perfect example: both employed by Millennials and Gen Z, but at least Millennials know what is waiting a whole week for seeing your favorite program, movie… with tons of advertisements in the middle of it.
Gen Z is more used to see what they want, when they want and nothing else.
Think about the most consumed product nowadays: mobile apps.
- An app substitutes an old just-for-one-purpose product such as a Video Game Console, a Computer or a Camera.
- An app can be used in almost any mobile phone, so you don’t need the best one for running them.
- You get attached to your app rather than to your mobile phone.
- And even more with Cloud memory storage.
So expect that:
- A Gen Z customer will require more a solution, rather than a product itself.
- He/ She won’t get attached to the “material” product you offer, but to the solution you are giving to them.
Millennials and Brand loyalty
They tend to still have the classic Brand hierarchy their parents had.
For example, regarding clothes:
- Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Prada, Gucci… : super exclusive and super desirable.
- Ralph Lauren, Tommy, Abercrombie… : exclusive and desirable.
- GAP, Zara, H&M… : affordable and acceptable for your day a day.
- Primark: …cheap.
However, although they accept the classical brand hierarchies, they don’t stick to a certain Brand as much as they parents did:
- Their parents used to have a “brand they loved” while they don’t.
They are Brand-promiscuous, shifting easily from one brand to another.
This is a problem from a Marketing standpoint since you may develop the best and more expensive campaign ever but if your customer does not remain loyal to you; you’re probably wasting your time and money (of course, besides your Marketing campaign, you must offer a nice product).
Generation Z and Brand loyalty
This generation is even less Brand-loyal than Millennials.
Think about how many super-successful movies, games, books… have a “5 minutes” worldwide success.
Generation Z forgets “everything” after 15 minutes and practically never commits to anything regarding product consumption.
You’ll see it better with a real example:
2.5 million followers "Influencer" failure example
Arii is/was a young Instagram “star” with more than 2.5 million followers just on Instagram.
Seeing her worldwide success, she decided to start selling T-Shirts designed by herself (doesn’t seem a bad idea).
She asked to her “followers” whether they liked the designs, colours…
- Everybody was crazy about it.
When the moment of truth came, not even 36 people bought her T-Shirts.
What went wrong?
We sincerely don’t know whether the T-Shirts were beautiful or not (we read about this case in the newspaper) but mainly, she didn’t differentiated fame from customer-engagement.
Also, she didn’t take into account how little loyal are current young customers; for them, “liking” something is not the same as “loving” it.
* Being said that, we want to highlight that this young girl was only 18 years old at that moment, so surely she’ll do it better in the near future.
It is easy to say all of this sitting in front of the desk (as I am currently doing) but when you are the protagonist, it is always much more difficult to see. We truly hope this girl does not give up and “find” what she missed out in order to success in her next project.
With this useful example, you can appreciate how different are sometimes a “Brand” name and its real power:
- This girl is/was very famous, but she didn’t have customer-engagement at all.
- Remember: your main goal is not building a famous Brand “per se” but to sell your product with a nice margin.
Summarizing we could say that:
- A Millennial is somebody with certain product-loyalty that is willing to save some money in order to buy a whim-product, but will always be open to shift his product preference.
- A Generation Z customer is somebody that is more focused on the solutions rather than a physical product itself, and he is used to have all he wants when he wants.
* If you have not visited yet the “Branding” page, we encourage you to do so. There we give advices about building Brands properly according to our professional experience.
Now we have seen the main factor characterizing the Generation Z, lets talk about how attracting them effectively.
How attracting Gen. Z customers in 3 steps.
As we mentioned before, there is not a hard wall dividing Millennials and Gen Zs.
Some Millennials are closer to Generation Z than to other Millennials, so you may this section equally interesting whether you are targeting one or another.
Being said that, we’ll propose you 3 things to take into account when targeting Generation Z clients:
- Offer them a Solution.
- Sell a continuous experience.
- Interact with them continuously.
Lets explain them in more detail:
1. Offering solutions to Gen. Z customers
Think about how many options an average young customer has for solving… everything.
Now imagine that you have been born surrounded by all kind immediate solutions for everything:
- Voilà, this is how a Gen Z feels when thinking about purchasing any product.
Best Generation Z mentality example
This is a personal real-fact example:
Once, I was having a beer with a friend at his flat.
We wanted to see something on the TV, and started to argue about who should get up for getting the remote control (yes, this things happen).
My friend finally downloaded a Remote-control app for controlling the TV so we didn’t have to get up…
That is a Generation Z mentality! (Although both of us are Millennials, not Gen Z).
Downloading an application somebody coded, that is hosted somewhere else in the world… just for not getting up.
This is a funny example, but shows perfectly what we are talking bout.
You must solve something to your Client and you have to do it better, faster or cheaper than your competitors do.
Keep always in mind that your clients have plenty of alternatives for almost anything you could offer them, and usually, some of those alternatives can be much better than what you are offering.
Sometimes, your product is good only for some customers, not for all. Focus on them.
Highlight the solution you are offering and what makes it better or more suitable for your customers.
2. Selling continuous experiences to Gen Z
We have said dozens of times that a proper Marketing Campaign should focus on the experience you offer to your customers rather than the product itself (In the “Branding“, “Marketing Research” pages …).
A product is easy to compare but an experience is unique.
- It is easy to find out how much is a flight to Costa Rica, but how much would you pay for an incredible experience in Central America? That is much more difficult to answer.
OK. We agree on the importance of selling experiences, but what is a “continuous experience”?
Generation Z customers (as well as Millennials) tend to swift quickly their preferences when the think there is not much more to see.
Then, you must be continuously thinking about new products, alternatives, and approaches so they don’t get tired of you.
Lets see what Apple does:
Apple's new products strategy example
If there is a company that has understood this perfectly, it is Apple.
Each year, Apple releases a new product that satisfies its customers and generates new expectations.
Think about the:
- New iPad.
- The iPencil.
- The Airpods, etc.
Don’t you think that they could have released everything together? We think so.
They (artificially?) maintain the “secret” about their future products, launching them one by one so their customers get not bored.
So, learn from Apple and instead of relying on a single product, establish a continuous product-design development, so you’ll always have something new to offer.
The last thing you want is a bored customer.
Now, we’ll explain the last factor you should take into account: establish a communication channel with your customers.
3. Interacting with Generation Z customers
This factor guarantees the two previous ones.
By interacting with your customers you can:
- Identify the problems they have.
- Improve their customer experience.
Your main objective is to receive feedback about what they like and don’t like.
By getting used to hear your “customer’s voice” you’ll improve the products and experiences you offer much faster.
Why do you think Google has been so successful?
Of course, they offer the best Web Search Engine, the best platforms… they have the best solutions, and the experience they offer is unbeatable.
But normally, people miss one thing when analyzing Google’s success:
- Google has access to all the customer’s opinions; what they like, and what they hate.
With all this immediate feedback, the have built the perfect Web environment, and if there is something to worry about, they’ll know as soon as lot of people searches:
- “How to solve this problem I am experiencing with Google”.
We know: you are not Google, but try establishing communication channels with your customers via:
- A Facebook customer page.
- Customer satisfaction mails.
The more you talk to your clients, the better you’ll know them. And the better you know them, the more engagement you can create.
There are other factors we could have highlighted, but consider these 3 as your main reference pillars.
And never forget when approaching a Generation Z or a Millennial customer: It’s nothing personal, it’s just Business.
Times change, and so do the customers preferences.
Generation Z is the youngest and more unpredictable generation, but they are your future customers, and you should take care about them.
They seem to be characterized by:
- Having almost no Brand loyalty.
- Being more interested in having solutions rather than products (assets).
- Shifting their preferences as soon as something becomes boring for them.
Hence, in order to approach them, you should:
- Offer them a Solution.
- Don’t think about which product you will sell them but how are you going to solve a certain problem they have.
- And you have to do it, better, faster or cheaper than your competitors.
- Sell a continuous experience.
- They must feel that you are continuously offering them new and better products.
- Else, they’ll get bored soon.
- Interact with them continuously.
- So you can understand what they need, and which experiences they value the most.
- Your objective is to have feedback that may tell you how improving your products.
Don’t forget: the World belongs to the young, so your priority should be trying to understand them.