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Looking Ahead to Gen Z

multitask-z1rwphWhile Gen Y often garners attention from marketers and the media, there is a small but powerful segment right behind the millennials, and they’re quietly gaining speed: Gen Z. Loosely defined as those born in the mid to late 1990s, they think and act differently than their millennial counterparts. Gen Z has no brand loyalty, a lower regard for traditional marketing and advertising, and a huge purchasing power. There is no doubt about it – we need to pay attention to Gen Z.

A major element of life in Gen Z is social media and the online world. They’ve grown up on the internet and use their smartphones as their primary platform for shopping and media consumption. They’re all over SnapChat, Instagram and other social media platforms, producing their own unique content as well as consuming it. YouTube is full of self-made tween stars offering makeup and fashion tips, tech advice and entertainment reviews. They’re uploading self-shot performance videos and cultivating deliberate, carefully crafted online personas while gaining followers far beyond their circle of friends – sometimes, all before they even hit high school.

They rely on peer reviews and value over branding, and look into the ethics behind the corporations they support. Gen Z wants companies to be transparent and respectful of their privacy – in fact, they expect and demand this. They are used to convenience, including mobile versions of websites and apps, and expect two way communications with brands on social media and beyond. If they don’t get it, they move on (but not before publicly criticizing the brand).

This is a generation that got their first cellphone between the ages of 10 and 11, and in many cases, receive a generous allowance. Gen Y has $200 billion dollars in annual spending power, according to the Global Association for Marketing and Retail. They’re approaching employment age and are becoming full-fledged consumers – the most tech-savvy group of consumers ever, and it’s critical that brands keep up. If you’re not ready, someone else will be – it’s your job not to miss out. In addition to marketing and advertising to Gen Z consumers, retailers need to rethink their in-store experience. The use of wifi to elevate the live shopping experience is on its way to stores around the world – think faster, smarter, personalized. The possibilities are endless.

Whether your business is big or small, it’s time to get in with Gen Z. The millennial audience is hugely important, but remember – Gen Z is right behind them.