26 Sep, 2017

This Digitally-Obsessed Generation is Changing the Marketing Conversation


Picture this: a group of people who are described as social media obsessed, opinionated, tech-savvy, lazy, educated, conscious, progressive. They have changed conversation among retailers and marketers alike, and have been hired by you.

This group has created a behavioral shift when it comes to buying patterns, store preferences, and where to target a product. They love to online shop but pretty much have no idea how to manage money. However, they are educated and driven.

Do you know where I’m going with this yet? I’ll give you a hint: the group is called millennials.

“Having been raised under the mantra “follow your dreams” and being told they were special, they tend to be confident. While largely a positive trait, the Millennial generation’s confidence has been argued to spill over into the realms of entitlement and narcissism.” Tech Target reports. 

This disruptive group has made a change in how retailers are marketing their products. Social media is now an influence, followers matter, and likes on a post can impact decisions.

Consumer patterns have shifted with the emergence of technology. There is no surprise there. Social media offers consumers an opportunity to pick and choose products based on photos and who’s following what. Oh, and you know that one person you’ve seen on Instagram wearing those new Micheal Kors sunglasses against a tropical background?

That person is called an influencer, and they make an impact too.

Social media and marketing are now a perfect duo, aiming to target younger generations who are known to be nothing short of technology obsessed. Sure, millennials count, but what about the era that is emerging, engaging, purchasing, liking, and following?

The conversation is now shifting away from millennials and towards a group that has transformed the shopping experience as we know it:

Generation Z

Generation Z, which you can refer to as gen Z, is the generation that is coming up right behind millennials. Millennials are growing up, shifting preferences toward matching a lifestyle phenomenon called “adulting”, and individuals in the gen z realm are taking their place.

“By 2020, Generation Z will account for an astounding 40% of all consumers. However, few brands, businesses influencers and industry thought leaders have considered how to go about appropriately communicating to that demographic.” Forbes reports. 

So, who exactly is a gen z? Well, that is a complex question that professionals have been trying to figure out. For starters, they were born after 1995 and before 2014. They are either entering college or graduating from college and entering the workforce, or as they like to call it, the real world. There is a lot of them, about 2.6 billion of them to be exact, and every one of them was born into the world during a time when technology was developing and taking off.

This means that technology has always been a huge role in gen z’s lives, especially when it comes to purchasing and engaging. They are constantly online and interacting digitally. This fact alone makes Gen Z a priority for marketers to try to understand.

Social Media: A World Of Its Own

Step away from the coupon book if you’re looking to target gen Z. They are not interested in sales or discounts, but rather, what they see on social media.

Since their purchasing patterns have little to do with price and almost everything to do with social media influence, marketers may have to shift the way they target them.

“Gen Z is two to three times more likely to be influenced by social media than by sales or discounts — the only generation to value social media over price when it comes to making purchase decisions, according to a study by IRI emailed to Retail Dive.”  Retail Dive reports. 

Social media plays such a large role in the decisions that Gen Z makes because it provides them with platforms that make products easy to find and purchasing accessible. If it’s one thing to be known about Gen Z, it’s that these individuals love things that are accessible.

They are informed and know what they want. They have the freedom to follow who they want, which leads them to pay attention to things that interest them and look away from or unfollow, things that do not. This puts marketers in a position to attempt to try to grab their attention, whether it be from celebrity influence, a catchy photo, or a strong message.

Advertise Wisely

Taken from Business Insider

Michael Kors was used as an example for a reason above. In 2013, this luxury fashion brand made a debut using a new feature on Instagram that permitted advertisements on user’s feeds. This advertising feature was developed to target people based on interests and likes according to Facebook, which if you didn’t know by now, owns Instagram.

“Advertisers on Facebook and Instagram can choose to target ads to people based on a variety of factors, like where you live, your age, your gender, brands you’ve “liked” on Facebook, and more. All of that, along with many more things, like how and what type of content you interact with on Facebook and on Instagram, goes into better targeting ads to you.” Business Insider reports.

Why did this Instagram ad gain controversy you ask? Well, social media is a tricky game. People, especially Gen Z individuals, want to be exposed to a product, without thinking they are being advertised to. This is mainly because seeing an advertisement while trying to stalk your favorite celebrity is just annoying.

So, as a marketer, it is important to keep this in mind while conducting branding strategies.

This fact alone is why marketers are forced to learn a new language and use new tactics in order to properly engage an audience. The social media language is one of its own kind.

Gen Z Wants Brand Interaction

Since Gen Z is so prominent on social media, they are looking to be interacted and engaged with on a personal level from brands in order to achieve lasting and trustworthy relationships.

The interaction that Gen z is looking for goes far beyond posting excessively on social media. It involves standing up for something, making a change and showing interest in what matters to them.

“According to the “Gen Z brand relationships” study, the way to reach the young generation is through more opportunities for brand engagement and a transparent relationship with their customers. Gen Zers feel strongly about issues like sustainability and are making their brand loyalty decisions based off of it.” RetailDive reports. 

Taking this into consideration while conducting marketing campaigns can be beneficial.

Gen Z Prefers Luxury Over Discount

Unlike Millennials, Gen Z is looking at the name brands before making a purchasing decision. These brands tend to be on the more luxury side, as opposed to discount stores, that millennials were known to fancy. This presents a challenge for stores like Target and Walgreens, according to a report done through In market insights. 

Uggs, Vans, and The Sunglass Hut succeed when it comes to approaching Gen Z.

Gen Z Cares About Appearance

It turns out that Gen Z puts a large emphasis on personal appearance. This could be due to many factors, like growing up in the public eye by having such heavy exposure to social media. Remember those likes we were talking about earlier? Well, they matter to Gen Z.

“Today, everyone can document their lives as publicly as any celebrity, for as long as they want, across a multitude of social media platforms. We see social media and the selfie culture as creating a generation that is more fixated on personal appearance and personal image (or even personal “brand”) than any previous generation.” Fungglobal Retail Tech repots.

Gen Z Gets Distracted Easily

According to Media Kix, Gen Z can only pay attention to something for no longer than 8 seconds. If you are looking to engage Gen Z through Instagram, you may be in luck. The limit on video content for this outlet is 15 seconds. Don’t forget to make the first 8 seconds count.

Although Gen Z is very easily distracted, they are also pros at multitasking.

All In All…

As a marketer, the key takeaway you can get from learning about Gen Z individuals is that they are digitally native, constantly interacting through digital devices, seek accessibility from retailers and preferring engagements with brands.

Marketers should engage in a variety of different approaches while targeting Gen Z.

  1. Content Seeding – refers to releasing content that is uniquely based on the outlet. The content must be relevant to what the audience is looking for. The goal of this strategy is to receive likes and shares.
  2. Be in more places than one – You can’t expect to reach the Gen Z audience by only being available on one platform. It is necessary and important to be on a variety of different outlets that are supported by every digital component, cell phones, laptops, desktops, you name it.
  3. Make sure your content is valuable. Gen Z wants to make sure everything they are engaging with lines up with their beliefs and can possibly change the world.

Want to learn more valuable marketing insights? Attend Digital Marketing Transformation Assembly.


The Millennium Alliance is pleased to announce that application for the Digital Marketing Transformation Assembly is now open. Taking place on October 19-20, 2017 at the Grand America Hotel in Salt Lake City, UT, this program has been designed to offer you insight into the latest digital marketing trends including artificial intelligence, omnichannel strategy, cognitive marketing, personalization, MarTech, the data revolution and more.

We are seeing the rise of Generation Z approaching, bypassing millennials, and creating a brand-new focus for business professionals. The marketing landscape must shift in order to meet the needs of this on demand, digitally obsessed customer. As a CMO, it is important to understand what the Gen Z customer prefers, and dislikes in order to successfully engage with them. Understanding how prevalent the rise of social media is, along with how frequently this generation interacts online, is just the first step to grabbing this complex generation’s attention and keeping it there. Integrating an omnichannel strategy is beneficial.

The Digital Marketing Transformation Assembly will bring together North America’s most prominent digital marketing technology and business leaders from all major consumer-driven industries. There are limited sponsorship opportunities available. Download the Digital Marketing Transformation Assembly Sponsorship Prospectus for more information >>

We are thrilled to announce Keynote Speaker Martine Reardon, Former CMO Macy’s and Current Founder & CEO at Reardon Consulting, and Senior Advisor, Retail & E-Commerce at NRF. Martine Reardon is best known for leading the multi-faceted world of marketing at Macy’s, from 2012 through 2016. In her role at Macy’s, she captained the company’s 1,300-person marketing organization, including advertising, creative, and brand development, social, mobile and digital media, public relations, cause marketing, media planning and consumer insights for more than 800 stores and macys.com, the sixth largest internet business in the country.

Our agendas and attendee lists are for events attendees only. Apply to attend here! Already attending? We can’t wait to mee you! Simply click the link and enter your password when requested.

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