Gen Z Rising: How to market to the most educated generation yet

Gen Zs are on track to become the most educated generation yet.

Compared to the Millenials and Gen Xers before them, they are less likely to drop out of high school and more likely to be enrolled in college, according to Pew Social Trends research. 

With a broad and finely-tuned world-view along with a perfectly-calibrated bullshit detector; marketing to Gen Zs has to come from a place of authenticity and meaning if it’s to have any iota of effect.

Without meaning and authenticity; it’s impossible to permeate the Gen Z tightly-guarded circle of trust.

 

Why is this important?

Gen Zs are a powerful consumer block. As early as 2018; the group already spent an estimated $143 billion a year and indirectly influenced $333 billion in household spending in the US, according to a Barkley report. You don’t need a weatherman to tell you where that wind is blowing in Africa as well. You can learn everything about them in our post about who is the Gen Z. 

For brands who don’t know how to connect with Gen Zs, that’s a lot of money they are leaving on the table every year.

How can you market to Ghanaian / African Gen Zs? Here are some thought starters.

Caveat: Before we dive into the rest of this. it’s important to remember that demographic categorizations such as Gen Zers, Xers, etc don’t mean that all the people belonging to that consumer block act in the same exact way. Joe Biden and Donald Trump both belong in the Silent Generation but you can’t see two more polar-opposite people than those two.

 

Gen Zs crave experiences over products

Gen Zs are not interested in products just because they are new. They are fine with using old products that offer the same experiences. The legacy marketing tactics tend to show glitz and glamour but this might turn off the Gen Z audience. They want something personal and more grounded. If you are planning to host a brand activation targeted towards that demography in Ghana, you are more likely to get a high turnout if you hosted it at an uncompleted beach house with exposed brick than if you held it at Movenpick or Conference Center.

 

Plug into sustainability

A Facebook-commissioned survey by Crowd DNA, polling 11,300 people aged 18 to 24 from eleven different countries including the U.S., UK, India, and Nigeria threw up some interesting data points.

61% of Gen Z are willing to pay more for products that were produced in an ethical and sustainable way.

Because of this thinking about things that Gen Zs consume, they have normalized thrift-shopping and styling old antiques. As you think of your marketing for 2021, consider how to leverage sustainability marketing and sales practices.

 

Keep it visual, keep it short

If you think millennials have a short attention span, the Gen Zs are out to prove humans can operate on the attention of an American Eskimo strung out on pumpkin spice latte.

Gen Zs have an attention span of eight seconds (compared to the 12 seconds of their millennials counterparts).  Marketers don’t have the luxury of a full-length Avengers movie to pass their message any more. Tik Tok has become popular among the group for that reason and astute marketers are going all-in on the platform.

 

Use natural images and believable influencers

Influencers worked great for millennials; and it effectively continues with the Gen Zs demography. But there is a tiny twist. The Gen Z audience isn’t interested in a sanitized feed. They want the messy charm because somehow, Gen Zs have a latent understanding that real life is messy.

“Every trend has a shelf life, and as quickly as Instagram ushered in pink walls and pastel macaroons, it’s now turning on them,” Taylor Lorentz writes in a brilliant Atlantic article from back in 2019. 

The Millennial-driven artfully-staged “Instagram aesthetic” is being gobbled up by something weirder, more domestic, and uglier.

“While Millennial influencers hauled DSLR cameras to the beach and mastered photo editing to get the perfect shot, the generation younger than they are largely posting directly from their mobile phones,” Lorentz writes. “In fact, many teens are going out of their way to make their photos look worse.”

Gen Zs don’t want “perfect”, they want “real.”

 

Don’t just engage them, be present.

As stated earlier, Gen Zs have a bullshit detector that’s as finely-calibrated as the Hubble Space Telescope. When it comes to engagement, the boilerplate responses won’t work.

Olga Pancenko, COO, and VP of marketing for PERRIN PARIS captures this idea brilliantly:

“Don’t try to give the impression of engaging your audience–just engage them. This means using customers, employees, and real people as the face of the brand, and using media to engage fans with product-related decisions.”

 

Respect online privacy and spaces

“I like to receive random calls and spam messages” — said no one ever.

At this point in 2020, all marketers understand nobody likes to get punched in the face. But this is a reminder. Badging into people’s online safe spaces without proper permission is the equivalent of punching them in the face. You hate it, millennials hate it, Gen Zs hate it.

This is not new, but it’s an important reminder. Be vocal about your commitment to privacy (and actually keep that promise).

Beyond anything I can share in this piece, the more important thing is to realize that the Gen Z mentality is still forming and will evolve with the years. Perhaps the most important takeaway is that when you don’t know what else to do about these pernickety Gen Zs; attempt to read the room and act accordingly.

 

 

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