The millennials are growing up. Young people born in the eighties and nineties have been seen as the first generation to adapt to the "new age". However, these consumers are now entering their thirties and there is a new, younger generation making its mark - Generation Z.
Gen Z youngsters have grown up in the iGeneration - indeed, they have never known life before broadband, mobile phones, apps and social media. But they arguably have a more mature appreciation for culture and ethics compared to their predecessors.
For businesses and marketing professionals, Gen Z presents an interesting demographic to target, as the way they play turns traditional consumer behaviour on its head. The latest research shows that Generation Z are completely turned off by celebrity culture and traditional media, and are more tuned in to peer-to-peer recommendation and online superstars like Zoe Suggs, Tanya Burr, Jim Chapman and Alfie Deyes. For female Generation Z-ers, bloggers are actually cited as the fourth most popular "celebrity" influence.
Understanding Generation Z
Chloe Combi, author of Generation Z, defines this audience as those born between 1995 and 2001 - a subset of Generation Y, really, but a distinct one, whose dates coincide with the spread of home internet connections and mobile phones.
Combi explains: "This iGeneration can't conceive of a world before everyone owned a mobile phone, and instant gratification is their norm; they have it in the palms of their hands within moments, usually for free. This ability to find whatever they're after without the help of intermediaries - such as libraries, shops or teachers - has made them more independent and self-directed than generations before them."
For Generation Z, social media is king. Unsurprisingly, Facebook remains the number one platform, however for Generation Z, Snapchat is the second most popular, with 42% of this audience checking Snapchat at least once a day. For other audiences, Snapchat would barely even get into the top ten. With Snapchat increasingly looking to monetise their service, this is a really interesting platform to keep an eye on if you have a product or service that targets this complex group.
As far as Generation Z is concerned, print media is dead. This is isn't to say they don't pick up the odd magazine or newspaper, however for genuine cut through, online sites, bloggers and vloggers are the media that hold the real power of influence.
These guys shop around, read review sites and blogs, seek out recommendations and refer constantly to social media. This audience is savvy and is looking for value for money.
For any successful marketing or PR campaign, consumer profiling and understanding how your target audience plays is pivotal. As technology continues to advance at an incredible rate, and as what we know from one generation to the next changes rapidly, understanding consumer behaviour and applying this knowledge to your marketing could make the difference between failure and success.
Generation Z is an interesting demographic and a challenging and exciting audience to engage with. The New York Times has described Gen Z as "the next big thing for market researchers, cultural observers and trend forecasters".
However, by no means are we close to fully understanding this audience, as the nature of Generation Z means they are ever developing and evolving in their behaviour.
Copyright © 2016 Rhianon Williams, associate director at consumer PR agency Escapade PR.
Escapade has produced this infographic to help businesses better understand Generation Z:
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