How to reach a Gen Z audience

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February 3, 2021

There’s been plenty of research on the Gen Z demographic – but Lucre’s leading the way when it comes to understanding how to reach this complex group of people with its many facets. How can marketers best communicate and connect with the first generation to grow up with technology that is so entwined within their lives?

 

What is Gen Z?

Gen Z is a generational cohort. It’s made up of those born between 1995 and 2010. 19% of the population falls under the Gen Z category, yet with reports suggesting 47% of brands find Gen Z the hardest age group to target it looks like many businesses are missing a great opportunity to reach an important and potentially rewarding demographic.

Here at Lucre, our Ideas and Insight team has been working hard to get to know Gen Z. We’ve researched extensively to find out more about the group’s interests, purchasing power and key differentiators.

 

Here’s what we know about Gen Z

10-25-year-olds are digital natives – they’ve grown up around technology. They’re independent and resourceful and, you guessed it, like to spend their time in front of a screen.

There’s more to Gen Z than their interest in all things digital, though. This age group are ethical and moral champions – socially aware, sensitive to the world’s issues and keen to influence change.

 

The impact of COVID-19 on Gen Z

“Unprecedented” summed up 2020. When we initially presented our Gen Z research last January, we had no idea COVID-19 was just around the corner.

Like all of us, Generation Z were heavily impacted by the pandemic. Suddenly, an already internet-obsessed generation were forced to spend even more time staring at screens. But what impact has that had on Gen Z as a group, and how can marketers learn from this?

We recently delivered our findings during our Gen Z Webinar, an insightful session that showcased our team’s expert knowledge.

 

The top ten takeaways from Lucre’s Gen Z webinar

 

  1. Think voice, think visual

Content is still king, but the written word will be less powerful when it comes to engaging a Gen Z audience. Our research suggests nearly half of all Gen Zers actively use voice devices such as Amazon Alexa to play music and search for content.

Whilst voice is one to watch, video and visual content are currently ruling the roost. Two thirds of the Gen Z audience are consuming visual content a lot more since March 2020, with YouTube the most popular social channel. The younger generation enjoy engaging content they can share, but also enjoy being content creators themselves and expressing their creativity online.

 

  1. More is more

Unsurprisingly, online activity has increased substantially during 2020, when the nation was plunged into lockdown. Girls spent 54% and boys spent 30% more time on existing social channels such as Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp. These “traditional” networks have been more important than ever as teens look to connect virtually with their family and friends.

However, there are still plenty of hours in the day left for emerging digital channels.  TikTok, the new kid on the block, has attracted widespread attention during 2020. Time spent on TikTok has grown nearly 300% in 16-18-year-old girls, with usage increasing across the board. Gen Z also spends an average of 9 hours every week on YouTube, with Instagram and Snapchat not too far behind. It’s clear that visually led social channels are rising in popularity amongst the younger generation.

 

  1. Authenticity is key

Gen Zers respect and admire figures such as David Attenborough, Michelle Obama and Greta Thunberg. Though “influencers” are often synonymous with the rise of online engagement, it’s interesting to note not many of our respondents suggested influencers as people they respect.

This generation wants to buy from brands with aligned visions and values. In fact, up to 28% of Gen Z boys want to purchase from a brand they believe in. Being genuine, authentic and ethical should be a top priority. Brands with a strong CSR strategy or charitable giving will be noticed but, most importantly, brands should work to develop an authentic tone of voice that resonates with this audience.

 

  1. Gen Z is a powerful group

With a buying power of $600billion (including pester power!), the Gen Z audience mustn’t be ignored. They’re set to be the most powerful and opinionated age group yet, so brands must take note and get this generation on side.

E-commerce is booming, with Amazon dominating the market amongst this demographic. 90% of boys (and two thirds of girls) aged 10-15 are shopping online, and 60% of girls aged between 16-22 report shopping online a lot more since the COVID-19 March lockdown.

 

  1. Wellbeing works wonders

Following the COVID-19 pandemic, Gen Z are more acutely aware of looking after their own wellbeing than ever before. Boredom, anxiety and sadness pervades across this demographic – and brands should be sensitive to this.

Our research suggests there’s a sharp decline in happiness as Gen Z grow older as anxiousness and tiredness takes over. COVID-19 has also impacted the generation’s wellbeing, with 50% of older girls reporting the pandemic has been detrimental to their mental health. Thanks to the pandemic, 32% are worried about the future.

Brands are starting to be aware of this wellbeing focus, and the importance of positivity and affirmation when connecting to this audience.

 

  1. Hopes and fears are changing

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a huge impact on Gen Z. 45% of girls aged 16-18 feel that COVID-19 is ruining their education. 45% of 10-15-year-old boys and 41% of 16-18-year-old girls are studying a lot more since lockdown. This level of pressure is likely to have a long-term impact on the generation.

Generally speaking, the Gen Z audience are particularly concerned about the environment, future security and health. A third of boys like to keep active and eat healthily, while an overwhelming number of girls (particularly 16-18-year-olds) are worried about their weight and what they eat.

Understanding these fears and concerns should help businesses sensitively position brand messaging and ensure they strike the right tone amongst this demographic.

 

  1. Gen Z covers a lot of ground

All ten-year-olds will have different worries and different aspirations when they become teenagers, or enter the world of work in their mid-twenties. Gen Z is a large, often amorphous term and marketers simply can’t target “Gen Z” without segmenting this down a little further.

For example, we know younger girls (aged 10 – 15) are gaming at similar levels to their male counterparts. Yet as we’ve covered in the points above, teenage girls are significantly more anxious than younger boys, who are obviously less concerned about factors such as job security.

Understanding how activities and interests change as Gen Zers grow up will help marketers to target sub audiences effectively.

 

  1. There are new platforms emerging

Twitch has predominantly been a gamer’s platform but, since the pandemic, it has seen a rise in users and diversification of the platform in general. Not every Twitch user is solely interested in gaming – its audience enjoys music, films and much more. This gives brands an ideal opportunity to reach a new and engaged audience via a different platform. 72.2% of all hours watched live on the web happened via Twitch, suggesting a huge opportunity for brands to get creative.

 

  1. Gen Z are going old school, too

There’s been a 38% increase in reading since the 2020 lockdown and a 41% uplift in ‘positive’ activities such as spending time with family, researching and learning online. Whilst Gen Z are still predominantly taking part in ‘passive’ activities such as watching TV and browsing, marketers should note the shift towards active participation. There’s a trend within this demographic to learn and study – watching informative content plays a big part in this.

 

  1. Marketers must adapt their strategies

One third of Gen Zers are influenced by peer approval. The quality and relevance of products and services is the most important driver, whilst celebrity or influencer endorsement is considered the least important. Again, we’re finding Gen Zers are all about authenticity and discovering products themselves or via trusted peers.

 

Marketing to a Gen Z audience

If you’re looking to reach the Gen Z audience, why not consult the experts? The Lucre team has spent a huge amount of time and resource analysing and researching this fascinating, engaging and complex bunch of young people.  Use our specialist knowledge and help your campaigns soar. If you’d like to find out more about our work, get in touch with the team.

You can even watch the full webinar recording here.