Gen Z

2018 was a rather busy year for marketing and martech developments. Social media was dominated by changes like the rise of Instagram stories, which shaped the way businesses and their audiences interact on the platform significantly.

The continued progress and reach of Amazon and Google, however, toppled the Instagram win entirely.

Google Shopping ads are rising significantly in popularity. Amazon growth is maintaining its upward trend and enviable pace, and the often-infamous giant Facebook is seeing a decline – largely due to the prioritising of other platforms like Instagram for feature development and overall investment.

The passage of time is driving these trends. Namely, the rise of the newer generation: Gen Z. With full immersion in digital technology from birth, the business and social world is adapting to a new set of requirements.

Food for thought: Some studies are highlighting as much as 42% of growth in features like Google Shopping ads by the fourth quarter of 2018 – a massive increase in a short space. Retailers are seeing ads served by Google Shopping to account for as much as 63% of all ad clicks. That, it goes without saying, is a big number.

Generation shift

As the years pass, the business and marketing world is seeing its primary audiences shift. Gen Z and Millennials now dominate as demographics, and their purchasing habits – and the principles that drive those habits – are significantly different to those who came before them.

Generation Z, born between 1996 and 2010, is born and immersed into a world guided by advanced digital technology. From a young age, children are used to touch screen and voice search – a massive difference to even the millennial generation, who came into the technology at a later average time in their lives.

A recent international study from the Centre for Generational Kinetics resulted in a few key findings for this rising demographic.

• Technology is involved in almost every area of their personal, daily experience
• There is an expectation for the internet to connect them to their peers and others
• There is an expectation that most entertainment will come via the internet
• They expect to be sold to on the internet primarily
• They have exceptionally high entrepreneurial aspirations

Online purchasing: Great expectations from a rising demographic

We know, then, that Gen Z has a level of interaction with the internet that is unprecedented. They rely on it, and the social media space and the influencers in it drive their purchasing behaviour to a startling degree.

What, then, does this mean for trust? In the past, physical stores commanded more of this valuable resource – at the cost of high running expenses.

That’s gone now. 75% of Gen Z participants in a recent study claimed they see no difference in legitimacy between an online and physical store. They prefer a business to be online and have a physical set of store locations – an important point that businesses are respecting by increasingly investing in social media activities and campaigns.

Principles are driving change – they always do.

Gen Z is kicking back against the heavy use of photoshop and image editing in many adverts and retail campaigns, with a massive 79% claiming they have more trust in a business if its advertisement doesn’t touch up its images with Photoshop. 84% similarly state that they will trust a company more if it uses legitimate customers in their ads, as opposed to the traditionally used actors.

Four key take-homes for Gen Z

The aforementioned study gave us four key learning points for Gen Z. Let’s take a look.

• Education: Intriguingly, 64% of polled Gen Z participants said they’d rather have full internet access and no degree than the opposite. This may relate to the higher level of entrepreneurism in the generation.
• Internet: 54% polled claim they would consider the managers or builders of the internet more important than leading political figures. A clear reflection of the immersion in the internet by the generation.
• News: Although it was found that the vast majority of any generation want accurate news, Gen Z is leading a push for it also to be entertaining. Trust is also at rock bottom, with a mere 21% of Gen Z poll participants saying they trust or highly trust it.

Class is over!

As these generations grow into maturity and take their place in the mix of demographics businesses sell and advertise to, best practice will change with it.

The combination of principles in advertising, massive social media use, and the rise in automation and AI in marketing will leave us with a very different digital environment in five to ten years time. The business that adapts will survive. Change is coming, and it pays to be prepared.

If Digiconomy can help your business thrive and survive in the digital marketing world, don’t hesitate to get in touch. It’s what we do!