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October 20, 2017

Millennials, Generation Me, New Boomers – all of these terms are used synonymously for the generation born between roughly 1980 through 1995. As a whole, we’ve been so focused on scrutinizing this generation to hell that we nearly forgot another generation is on the horizon here. So welcome, welcome to a blog that isn’t about Millennials, and instead, takes a look at Generation Z.

Hi, Hello Gen Z?

Image: Mikey Burton / The New York Times

While Millennials grew up with technology booms, Generation Z was born into an era of cellphones, computers and tablets. Millennials became digital minds over the course their lives, while Gen Z are digital natives based on the state of technology they were born into.

When we see digital minds and digital natives, it’s easy to assume that both Millennials and Gen Z would have similar digital habits. In reality, there’s a large divide in the way each group uses and continues to leverage technology, based on mistakes of early adaption, demographic shifts and progress in social issues over the last decade.

So, how do I talk to them?

As a digital agency, it’s our responsibility to use a variety of social media channels to deliver tailored content to targeted audiences. And while Facebook and Twitter may have fit the bill 3 years ago, we’re now dealing with new platforms, new audiences, and new ways content is discovered and absorbed. Without fully understanding our audience’s digital habits, it’s nearly impossible to send a message that will successfully be delivered.

Over the last six months, ChatterBlast has spoken to and polled Gen Z audiences and found out some surprising and not-so-surprising facts (Editor’s note: find the full breakdown here from Matt Ray):

  • Facebook isn’t dead. “I’m on here because my parents need to see that I’m alive and well,” said one Gen Z-er. 
  • Speaking of alive and well, Instagram and Snapchat are the top social media platforms.
  • And it’s not shocking that attention spans are still shrinking. Gen Z says get me in 30 seconds or leave me alone.

So here’s what can we get from this data: keep it short and sweet, creative and quick – and for the love of all things good, use photos that aren’t stock photography.

Confirmed: Gen Z likes to shop

Now that Gen Z has the loudest voice across social platforms and is at an age to make purchases themselves, marketers must cater to this generation and rethink their digital strategies in order to grab their attention and respect.

Recently, we worked collaboratively with PREIT, an investment trust that works with shopping malls across the country, to develop a social media campaign to target nearby Generation Z-ers. This awareness campaign set out to reach this generation and connect them with their local shopping malls.

Knowing that the audience is visual, fast-paced and responds best to authenticity, our teams quickly developed a Gen Z precision influencer campaign during the back-to-school season. What’s a precision influencer? Good question:

  • Influencer: These are individuals that have the ability to create an effect, change opinions and/or drive an outcome through their social media accounts.
  • Precision: And the fun part, we want to make sure the influencers selected had a look, feel, or branding about themselves that was fitting for the retail and shopping community.

The selected influencers were invited to the malls for a VIP treatment, to document their shopping experience and to create their very own back-to-school wardrobes. Exactly how the experience was documented was left up to the influencers.

In return, the campaign saw more than 67 posts published across the influencers’ social media accounts. You can see the results below (spoiler alert: they’re gorgeous). 

“Seeing people I look up to recommend products definitely impact my purchasing decisions.”

I’m more likely to buy something when I can imagine myself wearing it….I follow a lot of #OOTD Instagram accounts and I bookmark those pictures so I can go back and buy them later.”

experiencing summertime sadness because it's almost time to go back to skool 🙃@springfieldtwnctr

A post shared by Johnathan Le (@johnathan_le) on

“I follow a lot of different brands because I want to know about new trends. Social media makes me feel like I need to be up to date…I really like how brands post pictures you can click on and see the price of what’s being shown.”

“Scrolling on Instagram and seeing something I like gives me inspiration…You can find really cute stuff on Instagram, especially when other bloggers are recommending them.”

What’s Next?

As marketers, we need to be constantly asking ourselves this very important question: what do they respond best to? Remember it’s not about you, your boss or what your mom thinks is best—it’s about your audience. What might work well for Millennials might be a disaster for Gen Z.

In our Generation Z campaign, we gave the keys to the car to our influencers and they showed us what their friends and colleagues respond to: authenticity.

Keep things real, and I mean really real — that’s what resonates best with this audience.

About the Author

Jackie Kollar

Detail-driven aestheticist, Jackie is the director of digital strategy at ChatterBlast Media. She's here to always stay on top of the core trending topics: social media, shoes, and sushi.

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