Marketing tactics change constantly. Societal trends, cultural shifts and most importantly target market are the driving forces behind these vital marketing strategies. While Millennials continue to dominate a large percentage of business’ target audience, it’s the new kids on the block that are shifting current trends and shaking up the industry. Generation Z to be exact, the demographic cohort following the Millennials.
So who are the children of Gen X and how can you reach them?
Generation Z covers those born in the mid-1990’s to the early 2000’s, making Gen Z the world’s current teenagers and those in their early twenties. This makes Gen Z a key demographic as the oldest members of this group are currently entering the workforce and becoming adults. As they begin to earn money their place in society becomes vital to businesses growth.
Gen Z currently make up around 20 percent of the population and account for around 40 percent of consumer markets.
The new generation was set to inherit a stable economy with a record-low unemployment rate. However, the Covid-19 pandemic has reshaped the economic, social and political landscape and Gen Z are now looking at an uncertain future. Their importance to businesses selling potential has not changed and the search for the most effective way to target this consumer group has become ever more important.
Despite a rocky introduction to adulthood, Gen Z are greatly different to previous generations. They are far more ethnically and racially diverse than previous groups and are also set to be the most well-educated generation yet with 57 percent enrolled in college or university compared to 52 percent of Millenials and 43 percent of Gen X.
They can also be described as digital natives as they are the first generation to have existed at a time where technology and smartphones have been a natural part of everyday life and many have little to no memory of a time before this. Leading many businesses to a focus on a predominantly online approach to marketing.
Aside from their current place in society, what makes members of this generation stand out from their predecessors. Generation Z are increasingly financially focused. This could be due to the fact that their parents and other members of Gen X lost a significant amount of money during the recession of 2008. Gen Z saw how quickly money can be lost and from this have developed a focus on multiple income streams and are more likely to accept employment with a steady income over something they enjoy. This could be very useful in the coming years as the economy has taken a hit.
As previously mentioned Gen Z have a greater desire to develop multiple income streams and ‘side hustles’. Many use their free time to sell online, create apps or start various businesses. They are entrepreneurial and their understanding of how to make money work for them makes them ever more resilient. Their entrepreneurial attitude is fuelled by their access to technology and the internet. Their increasing use of social media makes communication and global reach virtually limitless and their ability to receive information instantly means the world is quite literally at their fingertips.
This instant gratification means on average members of Gen Z have an attention span of around 8 seconds, a few seconds fewer than Millenials. This means that information must be visual and easy to digest in a short space of time in order to grab the attention of the consumer any longer and they are likely to scroll by. While this makes marketing to Gen Z more of a challenge, it also means this generation are able to process information far more quickly, this alongside their breadth of knowledge and exposure to a greater variety of topics makes them a vital market for adopting change.
Despite life in a virtual world, Gen Z value real, authentic and relatable experiences. Language needs to be relaxed and focus on connecting with the consumer rather than simply just selling.
In a recent report published by Google, 26 percent of teenage shoppers said that they expect retailers to offer a more personalised experience based on the customer’s shopping habits. In comparison only 20 percent of Millennials and 11 percent of Baby Boomers shared this view, highlighting Gen Z’s desire to feel valued by a brand.
This is a generation that wants to be seen and not just as consumers but as unique individuals. They desire to see ‘real people’ at the heart of marketing campaigns rather than popular celebrities. The challenge here will be to define what ‘real people’ look like to the most diverse generation we have ever seen. At this time, influencers and micro-influencers are the closest thing to ‘real people’, many see these as peers and even online friends. Partnering with influencers can be a vital way to create interesting content that celebrates individuality and self-expression reaching this generation at a place they are most familiar. Gen Z are also most likely to skip at advert, this makes sponsored content with influencers the most vital way to ensure the consumer receives the message free from traditional marketing methods.
Gen Z also wants to be drivers of change. They are passionate about writing modern rules and favor more open minded and liberal views on issues such as race, gender, sexuality and identity. These values are reflected in this generation’s buying habits. The beauty market is no longer cornered by females, young men are into beauty more than ever and the industry is beginning to take note.
The beauty industry has a lot to gain from this generation. Growing up in the age of social media and selfies, image has never been as important as it is now. That doesn’t just involve their physical image but also how they present themselves. With so much of their lives spent online, Gen Z have a social image to uphold so the brands they buy from have to mirror their own personal values.
Gen Z are rewriting the rules on identity and gender norms. As Covergirl recently named Youtube star James Charles as their first “CoverBoy” and Maybelline chose Manny Gutierrez as the first male face of their Big Shot Mascara the beauty industry is taking note. Brands championing individuality and self-expression through makeup and beauty shoot to the top of brands to watch for this generation.
The value of individuality also covers the need for inclusion and diversity. As previously mentioned, Gen Z is the most diverse generation yet. Therefore, as consumers they expect brands to have developed in order to cater to a variety of skin tones and types, hair textures and features. Brands such as Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty offers a line of 40 different shades of foundation to finally offer a wider variety of skin tones makeup options that previously were not available. Other brands appealing to this generation include the likes of Urban Decay and NYX who keep their finger on the pulse of exactly what appeals to Gen Z, predominantly the need for fun. Bright colours and experimental products dominate new releases.
The beauty industry need not fear Gen Z despite their passion for shaking things up. Instead, it is the perfect opportunity for brands to reflect on marketing strategies and embrace the new rules or lack of to be precise.
With such a huge influence on societal change, it is no doubt that Gen Z will continue to influence the business, is the beauty industry ready to embrace the new kids on the block?