If you clicked on this article you’re aware of the emerging market of Generation Z and you’re seeking more information on us. The Piper Jaffray report estimates Gen Z (born between 1995-2010) contributes about $830 billion to U.S. retail sales each year, making this group an important one for brands to reach.
As a member of Gen Z myself, I hope to give you invaluable first-hand, niche generation marketing insight!
Who am I?
Large publishers such as Forbes, Inc.com, Kasasa, and McKinsey collectively agree that Generation Z officially ranges from those born from 1995 to 2010, and in 2019 would range from age 9 to 24. Thus, as a newly 24-year-old, I am right at the Gen Z cusp. However, my brand isn’t!
“Packs Light” is devoted to supporting young people to travel as early as possible, particularly targeting females in the 16 to 26-year-old age range. In fact, my Young Traveler’s Network Facebook Group consists of 500+ young travelers age 13-26, of which 55% are Gen Zs. Similar demographics reflect my more than 10.2K followers on Instagram followers as well.
Having done my first solo trip at only 17 years old, traveling to more than 15 new countries while in college, and winning more than $40,000 in study abroad scholarships to fund my education in Dubai, UAE for a year, I find myself an expert in and often writing about: middle & high school study abroad opportunities, undergraduate study abroad, study abroad scholarships, youth travel grants, and how to travel as a full-time college student.
As a Gen Z influencer, I’m constantly doing market research into my following. Conducting surveys on what they like to buy, what they care about, and what hinders them and excites them in travel. I am also constantly analyzing professional statistical studies done on the trends of younger generations, such as Spotify’s Culture Next Trend Report and Inc.com’s Gen Z Travel Trends.
I provide expert insight into the mind of the Gen Z consumer and can speak on what excites us in marketing, what absolutely turns us off, what campaigns have us ready to spend our money, what social media sites we are frequenting in 2019 and beyond, and what brands can do to build trust with us.
When marketing to Gen Z, personal recommendations > brand loyalty.
Welcome to the skeptical generation. Gone are the days of buying something simply because a huge, well-know logo is plastered on the front of it.
A host of variables come into play when Gen Z’s buy, including company ethics and inclusive marketing, which we will get into later. But my generation is definitely the word of mouth generation.
This easily explains the success of Gen Z influencers Amandla Stenberg (21) and Emma Chamberlain (18), whose content is less-filtered, less (noticeably) scripted, and more raw. This gives their content the “close friend” vibe that you may normally see on your Instagram feed. You feel like you know them personally, and they aren’t trying too hard to be liked.
Here’s a quote from a Young Travelers Network poll I did on Gen Zs impression of the traditional influencer:
I don’t usually trust what ‘[millennial] social media influencers’ have to say about places because most of the time it’ll be a sponsored trip, so it’s usually a glowing review with nothing negative to say.
Authenticity is king! Tossing a negative note into a see of positive commentary won’t damage your brand, it will humanize it. Micro-influencer marketing is a very successful strategy to target Gen Z’s and relate to them in a non-contrived way.
You can email me for a list of my favorite Gen Z influencers in different niches (including myself, cough cough, for lifestyle/travel) at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gen Z is non-binary, and uber-inclusive
By non-binary, I mean to say Generation Z does not believe in a world of black in white, but that everything should come in a shade of gray. Common societal limitations placed on structures such as gender or race simply won’t fly with this generation.We grew up in an age where a black man was President, same-sex marriage was legal, and social causes such as #BlackLivesMatter and #MeToo are in the public eye. We are vocal about their beliefs and we want the brands we support to be too Click To Tweet
Inclusive and diverse marketing campaigns resonate with them and gain out trust. Simple adjustments like the following will show this generation that you are committed to accepting any and anyone, just like we are:
- using gender-neutral pronouns such as they/them in your copy
- designing unisex clothing options or at least not restricting them to male/female only
- sharing diverse people not only of diverse ethnicity but their career choices, cultural background, religion, hair texture, height, weight, and visible/invisible disabilities will show this generation that you are committed to accepting any and anyone, just like they are
- Ex. Airie’s #AirieREAL campaign was massively successful with their addition of wheel-chair using and body-positive plus-sized models in their ads!
Gen Z is more private than Millennials and anti-evergreen
In a world of screenshotting, videoing, going viral, and canceling, the pendulum is swinging from the oversharing Millennials to the undersharing Generation Z.
Unlike Millennials, Gen Z has never known a world without social media–some studies say that 44% check their social media profiles on an hourly basis.
You’ll hear us referred to “true digital natives”, as we have had access to the internet and social media platforms since day one. I know for one that I got my first cellphone at age 11, and my 8 and 9-year-old sisters in elementary school already know what Snapchat streaks are! We use social media as our news, our entertainment, and our social connections.
Gen Z is typically seen as more realistic, independent and internal than Millennials. We’ve have learned from oversharing mistakes of the past (Exhibit A. people digging up and canceling celebrities over their decade-old tweets) and opt for social platforms that are more private and time-sensitive, like Snapchat and Instagram-stories.
In terms of travel, many may assume Gen Z travels for the purposes of showing off on social media. When in reality, the average Gen Z Instagram user in YTN has less than 500 followers.
Here’s a comment from 18-year-old group member when I shared this poll:
“Truthfully, most of us aren’t influencers. Absolutely nobody cares what we are doing. I have like 10 IG followers but I enjoy sharing cool stuff with my friends.”
Gen Zs use social media as a research tool to find ideas for travel but tend towards doing further research on destinations with sites like Yelp, Trip Advisor, and of course, YouTube.
Which social media sites are Hot or Not with post-Millennials?
- Youtube: HOT. The hottest, in fact, as the most visited social channel for Generation Z.
- Snapchat: HOT. Snapchat is still very popular among the youngest generation, with 51.29% of respondents in Business Insider’s survey saying they use it every day.
- Instagram: Hot. Instagram’s story feature, IGTV video hosting, and constantly changing newsfeed keeps Gen Zs engaged, as more than 64.6% of Gen Z check the app daily!
- Facebook: Not. Used for functional purposed like proving to your extended family that you haven’t dropped out of college yet. We don’t tend to browse long enough on Facebook to be influenced by ads.
- Twitter: Hot. Not particularly for direct marketing, but essential for creating a personal relationship with this demographic. Take a tip from Popeyes, whose famous chicken sandwich caught virality on Black Twitter.
And whatever you do, do not rely solely on email marketing—around half (46%) of Gen Z’s say they often forget they signed up for one, and 45% say they sometimes opt-out of loyalty programs because they receive too many emails.In Gen Z marketing, it's ethics or bust. Click To Tweet
With Gen Z, it’s Ethics or Bust
Gen Z’s are, colloquially phrased, “woke af”. Every corporate scandal comes to our attention, and we don’t invest money into products or experiences that don’t align with our values. We consider company ethics when purchasing any products, which includes environmental impact, worker labor conditions, and animal welfare (animal testing, animal products, etc.) You also won’t see Gen Z’s riding elephants, petting drugged tigers, or participating in voluntourism.
You’ll also see us screaming to the heavens about climate changes devastating effects on the world! 16-year-old Swedish climate change activist Greta Thunberg is the epitome of this passion. She often explains that Gen Z’s have a vested interest in combatting climate change compared to Millennials and Gen X-ers because we know we will be around to face the repercussions if we don’t.
So brands that have green initiatives like ASOS’ Sustainable Sourcing Programme or Reebok’s membership in the Better Cotton Initiative, the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, are tracked and noticed by Gen Zs.