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Z is the new y

Kelsi_casual.jpgAs a Millennial, I’ve always gotten a bad rap (see Time’s “ Millennials: The Me Me Me Generation). I’ve put up with it because, despite my generations downfalls, we’ve been the reigning popular kid in school for the past several years.  Making up 25% of the population and 21% of consumer discretionary spending*, Millennials have been a strong target, and topic of conversation, for brands looking to harness our spending power. 

However, on day two of my visit to the Marketo Marketing Nation Summit, it all came crashing down on me. During a fantastic keynote by Jamie Gutfreund, CMO, Wunderman, I realized that while my generation was busy graduating from “adulting” to “adult”, a new class of kids was readying to take over the school. Independent, impatient and progressive, these digital natives, who haven’t quite yet made a formal name for themselves, are rising to the top of the pecking order as Generation Z. 

Born after 1995, Gen Z holds the largest population, slightly edging out Millennials. They are digital dependents, who rely less on their parents, and more on their devices for information and guidance. Because of the immense amount of information at their fingertips, they have become cynical of the world and its future, and have even less trust in advertising and brands. They demand a higher standard, and for those wishing to reach this elusive group, their demands must be met. 

Many marketers may ask, “But I don’t target Gen Z, why should I care about their demands?” You should care. It is estimated that by the year 2020, Gen Z will make up 40% of buying consumers. Some day, perhaps very soon, Gen Z will become your target. Instead of waiting for that day, adjust how you reach your consumers now, in order to meet the demands of your future consumers. This approach is not meant to alienate your existing customers in lieu of the next generation, but rather to borrow some insight from their rule book in order to enhance your current customer relationship. By pivoting your customer experience to meet and exceed the high standards of Gen Z, you have the opportunity to delight whomever your current target audience is by delivering an experience they did not know they wanted. In short, make it your goal to better the life of your target in every decision. 

In her keynote, Ms. Gutfreund outlined several ways to enhance the brand experience for Gen Z, in order to capture loyalty where there is little to be given. To view her observations along with an infographic on understanding Gen Z, please download this handy graphic here. I challenge you to think about how you can take these considerations and apply them to grow your company’s value in the eyes of your own target audience. 

So what can you do to lead Gen Z? See Jamie Gutfreund’s full keynote here

*Millennial Marketing    


Gen Z: Who Are We? Hear Our Voices!  

Sidney.GenZ.jpgGen Z: Sidney, 17 

What’s your favorite pastime? Playing soccer 

What’s your favorite class in school? Math 

Best way to spend an hour: Helping others 

What apps do you use the most? Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram 

How often do you use them? Every day 

What brands do you like? Under Armor, Nike, American Eagle, Victoria’s Secret, Hollister  

Why do you like them and how do you know they are good? They are comfortable and long lasting clothes 

Do you ask your friends about a brand before you buy? Sometimes 

How do you hear about new brands? From my mom usually, but sometimes an advertisement 

Which do you like better, shopping online or in a store? Store so I know it fits 

Tell me an ad you love and one that you hate? Lord, I don’t know!

What the last TV show you watched? Grey’s Anatomy 

Last movie you saw? Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates 

Last book you read? 13 Reasons Why


Callie.GenZ.jpgGen Z: Callie, 17 

What’s your favorite pastime? Singing, Hanging out with my boyfriend, Watching YouTube videos 

What’s your favorite class in school? Science, Art and Choir 

Best way to spend an hour: Doing my makeup, Watching YouTube videos, Sleeping 

What apps do you use the most? Twitter, YouTube, Snapchat, Instagram 

How often do you use them? Every day 

What brands do you like? H&M, Charlotte Russe, American Eagle  

Why do you like them and how do you know they are good? They are boho and a lot of my friends buy them too 

Do you ask your friends about a brand before you buy? No 

How do you hear about new brands? Social media 

Which do you like better, shopping online or in a store? Store 

Tell me an ad you love and one that you hate? Love the Lipton Tea commercial and hate political commercials 

What the last TV show you watched? Naruto 

Last movie you saw? Finding Dory 

Last book you read? Of Mice and Men


James.GenZ_b.jpgGen Z: James, 17 

What’s your favorite pastime? Playing baseball, surfing, skateboarding, kayaking, fishing

What’s your favorite class in school? None! 

Best way to spend an hour: Playing my guitar 

What apps do you use the most? Surfline, Spotify, Instagram 

How often do you use them? Daily 

What brands do you like? Orvis, LL Bean, Ralph Lauren 

Why do you like them and how do you know they are good? The quality of the material is better 

Do you ask your friends about a brand before you buy? No! 

How do you hear about new brands? Social media 

Which do you like better, shopping online or in a store? Store, I don't shop online 

Tell me an ad you love and one that you hate? Love Tesla advertising and hate the e-Trade babies 

What the last TV show you watched? Vikings 

Last movie you saw? The Revenant 

Last book you read? Citizen Soldier

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