We can all think of someone—an aunt, uncle, parent, grandparent, coworker, weird kiosk guy in the mall, whomever— that tries just a little too hard to stay hip with the times…
Ahhhh, Phil Dunphy: The prime example of someone who, despite his endearing personality, is unfortunately just a few steps behind.
This clip from Modern Family flawlessly depicts the way marketers can often come across to today’s younger generations— the self-proclaimed “cool dad” that cracks bad jokes and unsuccessfully experiments with their own idea of fresh lingo. Methods are often bland and uninteresting or they’re over-the-top and consequently a little embarrassing.
If you’ve ever experienced what I like to call, “the commercial cringe,” you know exactly what I’m talking about. But don’t get me wrong; I’m not trying to say that products and brands everywhere are completely missing the mark. I’m simply pointing out that the reality of coming across an ad that’s right on the money is extremely rare. Companies are always readjusting their angle of approach in order to appeal to the newest buyer, and in 2015, the up and coming buyers are a part of what researchers are now calling Generation “Z”.
Though the exact age range has been debated, a member of Generation Z is most commonly considered to be anyone born after the year 1995.
Soon enough, this youth force will not only become the bulk of the new consumer base, but they will also account for over one quarter of the total population—a number that’s close to two billion people.
Whoa. How can companies brace themselves for this population invasion?
Well, when tailoring to a new audience, it is important to stay open-minded and more importantly, to stay educated. For decades, generational divides have been defined by technology, with each generation looking down upon the next as increasingly corrupt. Generation Z is here to change that. Unlike the Millennial guinea pigs, Gen Z has grown up completely immersed in a technological world, where the concepts of landline telephones and even CD’s are unfamiliar. Development in such a stimulating environment makes for a very unique breed—a generation exceedingly different from any we’ve ever seen before.
So in an effort to help avoid the undesirable “cool dad” effect, here are a few basic things you should know about Generation Z:
- The kids of Generation Z are natural-born collaborators.
As digital natives born into a world of social media, members of Gen Z collaborate with one another almost inadvertently. From posting Snapchat stories, to updating their Instagram bios, they are constantly exposed to a transactional model of information whether they realize it or not.
- They give more credibility to digital sources.
Although many adults will use the internet to look up information, their old-fashioned instinct will most-likely trust print over web-based sources. However, this is not the case with Gen Z. A report by Forrester Research states that Gen Z consumers are 48 percent more likely than other generations to trust somewhat or completely the content on mobile apps from brands, as well as text messages from brands.
- Their social circles are not limited by physical distance.
Physical distance is much less significant to a member of Generation Z as they have the ability to interact with peers from different geographies and cultures every day through the internet and social media. A Millward Brown Survey conducted in Europe, Asia, and the United States found that 25 percent of Gen Z interact with peers in other countries on a daily basis. The reality behind this statistic is the building of a more globalized environment, where a middle school student is far more aware of international news than he or she would have been even five years ago.
- Gen Z seeks authenticity.
Generation Z looks for real information, whether tangible or virtual, and most have spent their entire lives with unlimited access to anything imaginable in the palm of their hand. In other words, they’ve already done their research, and will be able to spot the smallest of inconsistencies coming from the other end. Brands will have to step up their game in order to keep up with an increasingly informed consumer base.
There is a an endless amount of information to be learned both about and from Generation Z as society makes the complete shift to virtual communication. From now on, technology will work not to divide the generations, but to help them come together to connect and collaborate.