Gen Z Are Mobile Mavericks (What You Need to Know)

9 Marketing Insights About Post 1995 Generation

Born after 1995, Gen Z are true mobile mavericks. Growing up in an untethered world of smartphones, tablets and wifi, this generation’s perspective is both multi-cultural and global. This distinguishes them from prior generations. Therefore, marketers need to understand Gen Z to craft effective messaging and content tailored to their view of the world.

Based on JWT Intelligence’s Gen Z: Digital in their DNA (April 2012), here are nine insights and tips on how to adjust your marketing that every marketer needs. 

  1. Mobile phones are at the heart of Gen Z’s connections. Some things never change. Teens and tweens love their phones. For Gen Z teens, the mobile phone is their essential connected device; often eliminating the need for music and gaming devices. Even more important for teens, they’re personal devices. (Here are insights on current content consumption across multiple devices and here’s additional research across a wider array of devices.)Marketing implication: To reach Gen Z, you must have an integrated mobile offering that includes tablets and other connected devices such as e-readers and gaming options.
  2. Gen Z’s Internet is PC-based. This makes sense since many parents feel the need to monitor their tweens and teen’s online interactions and because mobile data is more expensive. Marketing implication:  Ensure your information offering appeals to this target audience while assuaging concerns that it’s unsafe and/or inappropriate.
  3. Television still matters for Gen Z. Surprisingly, television ranks up comparably with mobile phones. Over 75% of Gen Z would miss their cable/satellite television. Marketing implication: Incorporate the use of television into your marketing mix where appropriate to reach teens where they spend their time but understand that they may not use it in traditional ways. Think time shifted shows and other forms of “over the top content”.
  4. Digital connections matter more than money for Gen Z. Face it tweens and teens want to communicate with their friends, constantly. Whereas traditionally teenagers used the phone, now, they’re using various digital options. Marketing implication: Use a variety of digital options to reach Gen Z including text, email and social media.
  5. Social media is where you’ll find Gen Z.  Despite rules about participants being over 13, over 90% of teens and 60% of tweens are on social media. Facebook, used by two-thirds of Gen Z respondents, trumps other social media options. In fact, almost half of tweens are on Facebook despite being against the social media entity’s rules. (Here’s a fuller picture of social media use with 47 charts & facts.)Marketing implication: Build your Facebook presence to appeal to Gen Z and earn their loyalty early. Be aware that younger participants may not be over 13. (Here are 9 sure fire Facebook tips.)
  6. Gen Z prefers to engage digitally rather than in-person. Almost half of respondents said their social life revolved around social media. Further, about two-fifths of respondents found it easier to use digital means of communications. Additionally, a third of respondents preferred online relationships. Interestingly, a quarter of respondents needed to take a plane flight to visit most of their digital connections. As with older generations, males felt more comfortable with digital versus real life engagement. These results may reveal new ways that this generation has adopted digital tools to help them through this difficult life period. Marketing implication: Provide ways for Gen Z to interact with you digitally via a broad based digital approach.
  7. Gen Z’s shopping is split equally between online and offline. While parents still do most of the paying, of this about two-thirds pay with credit cards online, about one in four teens uses PayPal to pay. For Gen Z, it’s still traditional cash that they’re given by their parents. Further, most parents think their children are old enough to shop online but they still tend to shop with their child or do the transactions for them. (Here’s research on how we shop now.)Marketing implication: Showcase your products to appeal to Gen Z and their sensibilities but make sure that they’ll pass the “Mom” test.
  8. Gen Z’s spending is moderated by higher level needs, namely family. Given the choice, the average tween or teen would spend their money on stuff. Interestingly, most would put off buying decisions in light of more important family needs. This reveals the impact of the economic downturn and slow recovery of the last five years. It’s a new twist on the depression mentality of an older generation that lived through the Great Depression. About eight in ten families have made spending changes due to their family economic situation. Marketing implication: Show these prospective buyers the value of your products and how to maximize their investment. Unlike previous generations, Gen Z members are more thoughtful about their purchase decisions. Don’t underestimate their willingness to put off purchases for reasons that might not be apparent. Understand that you will need to show that your product is worth the tradeoff and/or investment.
  9. Gen Z fears the worst is yet to come. Growing up with a weak economy, on-going wars, and extreme acts of terrorism has tarnished this generation’s outlook, both personally and in general. 58% are worried about the future. From a personal perspective, they’re worried about getting a job after college, how they’re doing in school, their parents’ financial situation and where they’ll get into college. Marketing implication: Show your positive side. While many of these respondents have experienced some of these challenges, make sure you provide support.

As a marketer, understand how Gen Z views the world. Their mobile savvy combined with their digital connectedness is moderated by their concerns about money and the future. Therefore, marketers must find a way to provide quality content and social media engagement to support this generation.

What other recommendations do you have for marketing to Gen Z?

Happy marketing,
Heidi Cohen

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