ARE YOU READY FOR GENERATION Z? What Brands need to know.

What Brands Need to Know about GenZ (those born from mid-1990s to 2010)generation Z

If you wear a marketing, advertising, branding, public relations or social media hat, are you ready for Generation Z (GenZ)? GenZ makes up about 25% of the U.S. population and contributes about $44 billion to the economy. Does that grab your attention?

Forbes notes, “this generation’s online interests and smorgasbord of content options makes them a far more slippery catch. From academics to dating, social media has had its hand in GenZ’s pockets from the start.”  GenZ has grown up in a post-9/11, post-recession, on-demand world, with social media and e-commerce, and most most have had cell phones since they were 11 years-old. Some had them when they were much younger. And now, they spend about 6-11 hours per day on their device. GenZ has a far different outlook and approach than Millennials.

Consider the following, from research firm Sparks and Honey:


They Care.

  • Sixty percent want their jobs to impact the world
  • Twenty-six percent volunteer
  • Seventy-six percent are concerned about humanity’s impact on society

More Driven.

  • GenZ is more mature, self-directed and resourceful than Millennials
  • GenZ has the entrepreneurial spirit. About 72% want to own their own businesses, and 76% hope they can turn their hobbies into full-time jobs
  • They know how to self-educate and find information – 33% watch lessons online, 20% read textbooks on tablets, 32% work with classmates online
  • Eighty percent of high school students believe they are more driven than their peers

More Screens.

  • GenZ came of age on social media.
  • Eight-second attention span.
  • Preferred number of screens = 5
  • Prefer incognito media, like Snapchat.
  • Communicate with images.
  • Forty-one percent spend 3+ hours on computers for non-school work.
  • Eleven hours on screens everyday.


A report from Barkley and FutureCast found the following:

  • GenZ’ers care deeply about human rights and feel that any brand they interact with must make that a priority.
  • Teens are becoming involved in social activism at an earlier age and, because of that, want to see more diversity and “real people” in ads, as compared with members of other generations.
  • They think equality is “non-negotiable,” and they believe brands need to be real.
  • Sixty-nine percent of teens said that any achievements will come from hard work, not luck, compared with 63% of Millennials and 58% of Gen X’ers.
  • Fifty-three percent of GenZ’ers feel that success is the most important thing, compared with 46% of millennials.
  • They have their own “system of rule and etiquette” for social media and spend most time using YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Tumblr and Tinder, with some teenagers checking their social media accounts up to 100 times a day.
  • Millennials are more likely to use Facebook on a daily basis (87%), compared with 77% of Gen Z’ers.

Online personalities are crucial – 57% of GenZ consumers trust endorsements from online media influencers, according to an Intercept Group study.

Tips for Connecting with GenZ

A new study from global research agency Kantar Millward Brown identifies a number of key opportunities for brands to connect with GenZ:

Don’t ignore traditional media.  Despite their digitally-dominated media consumption, GenZ’ers can still be impressed by traditional media. While they spend less time with traditional (51% watch an hour or more of TV a day, compared to 74% for GenX), GenZ’ers are consistently more positive about ad formats such as outdoor, print ads and cinema, TV and radio ads than standard digital alternatives.

Respect their online space.  Within the digital space, GenZ is more positive than other generations toward mobile rewards video and skippable pre-rolls (which achieve net positive scores of 41% and 15%, respectively), but particularly critical of invasive ad formats like non-skippable pre-rolls and pop-ups (-36% and -42%, respectively).

Creative approach makes a difference.  Music, humor and celebrities all make GenZ more receptive to advertising. They are also attracted to ads that allow them to co-create or see what happens when they make a decision. They are more positive towards brands that let them vote for something to happen choose an option or make decisions.


So what does this all mean for marketers and other professional communicators?

  • Brands need to be authentic, diverse, and firmly committed to causes and concerns. If it’s not sincere, it’s not going to work.
  • Brands need to embrace all forms of media… paid, earned, shared and owned. One media form is not enough, one size doesn’t fit all. GenZ’ers glide from screen to screen, platform to platform … so your message must as well.
  • Connecting with influencers is essential.
  • Give GenZ’ers a voice, plus room to create and share.
  • You must be visual, with emphasis on video. Younger viewers watch 2.5 times more Internet video than TV.

“GenZ has grown up in an on-demand world of infinite choice, and this flavors their expectations of (communications). They are much more attracted to ads that allow them to co-create or shape what happens,” said Duncan Southgate, global brand director for Media & Digital at Kantar Millward Brown, in a news release.

Bottom line… be real, stand for something, be everywhere, be visual, give them a say, create a dialogue, avoid the monologue.



Also published on Medium.