Talkin’ About iGeneration: Understanding Generation Z Consumers


AT&T Summerbreak teens

Millennials have been (and will continue to be) a hot topic amongst marketers across the globe, but it’s time to start paying attention to their children and younger siblings as future consumers as well. Here we’ll explore some information and tactics for understanding and reaching this fascinating demographic. That means talking about Generation Z, the post-millennial generation of people who fall between the ages of 6 and 20, also referred to as the iGeneration or Centennials.

Creating Content In a Heartbeat

We all know that the world is getting more digital and it seems like there’s an ever-changing list of trending new apps and social media platforms taking over. This generation of tweens and teens was born into an era of technology, and they own it even more than their Millennial counterparts. When something grabs their attention, it takes over so fast it makes my head spin. Take, for example, one of the latest videos they’ve made popular: Chewbacca Mom.

But here’s the thing, Gen Z isn’t just repurposing existing content and sharing the same things over and over again. They’re creating their own content without even thinking about it. While Millennials could spend hours lining up the perfect shot, caption and hashtag for their Instagram post, Gen Z does it all within the space of a heartbeat—generating so many viral memes in such a short amount of time it’s dizzying.

It’s not all just silly videos though. They’re also doing amazing things in real-time, like creating custom sketches of someone’s #OOTD (Outfit Of The Day). They’re even turning their faces into music, and sharing their everyday stories on platforms like Snapchat – the popularity of which has led the brand to adopt a Facebook-like algorithm, and has even inspired one agency to focus entirely on the platform.

Physical Experiences Are Still Important

Even with all of that digital focus, they’re still drawn to experiencing things IRL (in real life). Gen Z is a generation that’s growing up in even more economically trying times than their Millennial parents – many of whom still have to live with their parents to get by. This struggle has made Gen Z one of the most entrepreneurial generations, who value the ability to succeed with self-made fortunes. It makes sense, then, that of the Top 15 Memorable Gen Z experiences identified by TrendHunter, seven are camps and conferences that teach or expand new skills.

Now that we know a little bit more about their mindsets, here are four tactics for reaching this complex generation of consumers:

1. Images Are The New Words
These consumers have grown up surrounded by technology that means they’re used to communicating with visuals rather than words – many can even have an entire conversation only using emojis and GIFs (even if not everyone agrees on how to pronounce GIF). And Domino’s has even started allowing people to place orders simply by sending an emoji. Connect with Gen Z via strong visual impressions that will stick with them in the brief eight seconds they’re willing to give.

2. Meet Them On Their Level
Just because this generation is young, doesn’t mean they aren’t aware of the world. They still worry about adult things like their future debt, finding jobs, terrorism, social injustices and the impact we’re having on our environment. Don’t talk down to them. Be honest and don’t try to hide behind a layer of filters. These consumers can also be fiercely loyal to those brands they trust. Make them your allies by talking to them like the adults they’re striving to be and you’ll have an army of influencers.

3. Share The Love
Don’t assume that they’re only paying attention to one screen at a time. Most of this generation bounces from screen to screen and many are multitasking, often simultaneously watching TV and scrolling through a mobile app. That’s why multichannel content like AT&T’s @SummerBreak series resonates with them. This generation is skipping old school social media brands like Facebook for Snapchat, Instagram and Vine, and each of these platforms serves a different purpose for them.

4. Digital Isn’t Everything
They may be nicknamed the iGeneration, but consumers born after 1993 still greatly value physical experiences. In fact, depending on the category, some consumers still prefer to shop in person, even if they’re doing most of their research online. Adopting an omnichannel strategy like Macy’s means supporting in-store designs and communications with digital efforts, but don’t assume that brick and mortar shopping is going away. Offer a holistic brand experience across all channels to help deepen loyalty and capture their attention wherever they may be paying attention.

We’ve only just begun to see the impact these consumers will have in the market, but if they’re anything like their parents and older siblings, they’re sure to be a very influential consumer group. Understanding how to communicate with them early is key to successfully capturing their immense spending potential.

Kelsey Anderson is a brand strategist and baker. Connect with her on LinkedIn.