Since the term “millennial” first burst onto the scene a few years ago, marketing – and brands – has obsessed on understanding who these audiences are, what their habits are and what we can do to attract and retain them.
Without doubt, they are a group of important consumers who have caused a split with traditional marketing techniques and have managed to shift advertising strategies in another direction, not to capture their attention in a unitaletal way (with their first rupture) but to achieve presence and interaction. This is done in the most native and attractive way possible; through the channels they naturally follow and by adapting tactics to their content and information consumption habits. This has resulted in a terminology linked to tactics and strategies with which we are already familiar and for brands, with varying levels of use and success, to utilise: mobile first, omnicanality, user experience, advocacy, influencers, etc…..
But as time passes, the consumers and public are one step ahead. As long as Millennials or Generation Y – those born in from 1980 to 1999- continue to growth, reach their economic independence and, the youngest, surpassing the age of majority, new audiences are gaining presence and adding points to purchasing influence: the Z-generation.
If Millennials, digital natives, have already revolutionised marketing strategies with a clear focus on business digitalisation and generating personalised experiences, Generation Z implies a revolution of techniques to attract these publics and constant revision to the fast changing pace of internet and technology. Generation Z isn’t a digital native, it is a guest. Those born in 2000s are early digital adopters hunger for technological innovations. They demonstrate a curve of adoption and learning that is as accentuated as it is self-taught and intuitive.
Millennial and Gen Z: hyperconnected, critical and participative generations
If there is one thing that characterises Millennials and Generation Z, in addition to their hyperconnectivity and technological predisposition – far superior to any other consumption group – it is their demand. This is far removed from the content consumption patterns of previous generations marked by the lack of bidirectional interaction with traditional media. In this respect, Millennials and Gen Z play an active, and proactive, role in the search and interaction with content. Not only do we see this in the rise of content subscription models or on-demand content, but also in relationship models that they establish – through social networks with their contacts and brands- within a democratic environment where the content recipients are also generators of it.
In Europe, 1 out of every 4 youths watch Netflix every month and up to 40% use Spotify.
Although these age groups are the most connected audiences – the Z-generation dedicates up to 4 hours each day online using their smartphone-, they are the most difficult audience to impact through advertising: more than half use adblockers when browsing online, 70% try to skip the ads or they otherwise avoid it at all costs. They are hardly exposed to television and have no interest in traditional advertising media. However, they know how to use technology to find what they need, when they need it and in the best way possible. They also don’t hesitate to find information or seek inspiration on social platforms, with Facebook, Instagram and YouTube being the main ones.
In fact, this generation generates a great prescription power – and of being influenced – through friends and acquaintances: 35% are attracted to the products they display on their social networks, since 20% consider that if they share it, they recommend it. This phenomenon reaches its extreme with 60% acknowledging that they feel a “psychological need” to purchase the products published by their contacts, especially considering that 47% of these young people share their product reviews.
But what are their reasons for recommending? Principally quality, followed by factors related to price, their relationship with the brand or because they consider it as information of interest, and experience with the brand – either because they have received good customer service (29%) or because they feel a part of it (21%).
Source: Global Web Index
Millennial and Gen Z, capacity to consume
In addition to differences in terms of consumer habits, another important factor to bring to the attention of these audiences is their ability or influence on the purchase of consumer goods.
Predictably, millennials are starting their working careers with wages significantly lower than those they will reach in the near future and tend to rent in urban areas. Their spending focus is more on experiences rather than material goods.
Most Generation Z members still belong to the family nucleus, therefore benefiting from their income and influencing their purchase decision. To give us an idea, according to Fung Global Retail & Technology, in 2015 American families spent $829.5 billion on their Generation Z family members and $66 billion on items recommended by them. So, what do these young people spend their own money on? Mainly fashion, music and books and applications.
There is no doubt that they are an important influence group that, in the next decade, will have a higher purchasing power and become the largest consumer group in the world; a key group for retailers, according to BI Intelligence.
On the other hand, it is interesting to highlight that this generation has a different mentality to the millenials about money. They are motivated by having grown up during the midst of an economic crisis and high unemployment rates. They are influenced by a certain financial conservatism and awareness of the economic consequences of their decisions. It is interesting to note that 60% of Generation Z members associate economic fortune with success, compared to 44% of the millennials surveyed at the same age.
Generation Z is profiled as a consumer group that seeks a source of stability from money; it avoids debt by choosing debit over credit and opts for renting (also in transport) rather an purchasing property in order to preserve their economic freedom. Interestingly, 21% are conscious about saving for their retirement.
Why is it so interesting for brands to capture the interest of this group?
Generation Z is the next large consumer group, one of the most diverse in sociodemographic composition and has strong values that differentiate them from their older brothers, the millennials. Although they share a love for new technologies, experiences and the rapid implementation of trends (from their habits we can easily see how other sectors react to technological innovations) strong values such as commitment and sensible economic management, differentiates them from the millennials.
Gen Z’s are now an important purchasing influence group; an influence that will grow in the near future when they can manage their own resources. They are therefore the consumers of the future. A type of conservative consumer who looks for the maximum profitability of his money in the purchase, and bases his purchase motivation and loyalty on criteria such as price, offers or discounts, and perception of quality.
We must not forget their natural ability to easily deal with new technologies and the Internet, and the time that they devote to browsing makes them critical and informed consumers who seek real opinions (being less influenced by celebrities and influencers than the millennials), and use their mobiles in physical shopping rather than the media, to share and consult their experience with family and friends. They are also the group that buys most through mobile phones, according to Imar 56%, so a bad mobile browsing experience can ruin a sale.
In fact, this is a key area where brands should focus more efforts on attracting these audiences: the user experience with the brand, both online and offline, is a basic element to activate these audiences. Both in the shopping experience and advertising they expect added or inspirational value rather than it being purely commercial. This aspect acquires greater emphasis when referring to sectors such as banking, where it is even more necessary to build a relationship based on trust, transparency and honesty with users to guarantee their loyalty.
As we learn more about the habits and characteristics of these audiences, and their sheer importance for the near future, the need for companies to address their digital transformation grows. These companies must become agile in order to address the rapid implementation of strategies and technologies that are turning users into a protagonists of experiences and participant of their own real values.
These factors are all fundamental to any current strategy focused on any digital client, but they are even more relevant when talking about this audience.