Gen Z: Why Social Marketing is Going to Be Even More Important

Move over Baby Boomers and Millennials because a new generation – Gen Z – is taking over the world. But seriously. Never heard of Gen Z? Well, they’re the generation born between 1996 and 2010 and currently are ages 7 to 21 years old. They’ve never known a pre-9/11 America. They’ve never known what it’s like to not have Internet. They may not even know how to use a phone book – or maybe that a phone book isn’t the contacts list on their iPhones.

The U.S. Gen Z population is 63 million strong and growing due to immigration. Gen Z is expected to influence 60% of U.S. revenue by 2025. Although this may seem significant, we should really be looking at China.

In China, Gen Z includes for 247 million children and young adults. And China’s Gen Z is going to a whopping 16% of total global income. That said, this generation has a lot of power, and they don’t even yet have university degrees. So, what makes Gen Z unique? We found four traits that should make organizations think twice about their long-term marketing plans.

  1. Their operating system is technology.

Gen Z-ers are always connected. An electronic device must be in their hand at all times – whether it’s a mobile phone, tablet, or laptop. The more mobile the better as they’re always on the go, but maintain connected. They spend at least 9 hours per day digitally engaged – whether in school or at home. This time is spent gaming, browsing, socializing (such as Instagram and GroupMe), listening to music (think iTunes or Spotify), watching TV (think Netflix or YouTube). Some also spend time creating their owndigital content (such as musical.ly). Additionally, they only use a few apps on their phone.

  1. They are more diverse than ever before.

In the U.S., the majority of Gen Z are non-white as a result of immigration. It is likely that a Gen Z kid has a mom who’s Indonesian and a dad who’s Irish. The kid is interested in not just one activity, but multiple. They don’t just see themselves as a dancer, a chemist, or musician. They have their hands in many cookie jars, so to speak, which makes them feel fulfilled and creative. It’s also likely they will pursue multiple divergent degrees such as biochemistry and theater.

When it comes to marriage, 66% back marriage equality, research firm 747 Insights confirms, and only 80% are currently interested in getting marriage. They’ll follow the path of millennials by not following traditional ideals such as getting married and having multiple kids before the age of 30. Gen Z seems to be the most independent of all generations and seek multiple experiences – such as dating and traveling – before tying the knot with a significant other.

  1. They’re more authentic and care deeply.

This generation seeks to purchase goods and services from brands that “do good” for the world and their communities. They’ve grown up in the war on terror and multiple wars such as Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria. They care even more about social justice issues than millennials, who tend to focus on globalization issues and social responsibility.

Gen Z-ers will fight for themselves, their loves ones, their friends, and others if they see them treated unfairly due to gender, sexuality, race, pay, and environmental issues – just to name a few. This generation wants to be a change agent and truly believe they can make a positive impact. They can use their digital savviness and self-assured mindsets to influence via social media channels such as YouTube, Instagram, and Kickstarter.

Technology allows this generation to influence at a global scale virtually, rather than traveling around the world. They are able to create their own personal brands and form their online communities, which have very low barriers to entry. There are no boundaries, rules, or fees (only to the extent of what their content channels allow, of course).

  1. They value relationships over transactions.

Gen Z seeks a personalized shopping experience. As discussed above, they believe brands play an important role in society and are responsible for making it better. Just as this generation create its own content online and inspires others, they expect the same in return from brands they purchase from. They’re also likely promote a brand (particularly online) as a result of a positive customer experience. About half of all Gen Z purchases include a digital element – either through their product search or actual purchase. They are likely to use online product reviews from people they follow and trust online – especially celebrities. They are also likely to participate more in member-only events and loyalty programs that reward them for frequent purchasing.

If you thought Amazon was just a fad, think again. Online shopping is here to stay and grow, funded by Generation Z. Brands should pay special attention to this generation’s purchase patterns as they continue to grow older and become a larger part of our global economy.