Move over millennials, because Generation Z ready to take the lead. Marketers across a variety of industries and categories have been totally obsessed with finding a way to reach and build connections with millennials for years. While the millennial generation provides unique challenges for marketing strategies, Generation Z is shifting off into a different direction.
Generation Z is defined as ages 2 to 19, although the target range for marketers lies from ages 11 to 16. Out of any generation within the United States, Gen Z is the most diverse and multicultural. Gen Z is 55% Caucasian, 24% Hispanic, 14% African-American and 4% Asian. At 7.7 billion people. this generation will compromise 32% of the global population in 2019, surpassing millennials. According to a Bloomberg analysis of United Nations data using 2000/2001 as the generational split, millennials will account for 31.5%.
“The key factor that differentiated these two groups, other than their age, was an element of self-awareness versus self-centeredness,” according to “Rise of Gen Z: New Challenge for Retailers,” a report by Marcie Merriman. Millennials were “more focused on what was in it for them. They also looked to others, such as the companies they did business with, for solutions, whereas the younger people naturally sought to create their own solutions.”
Generation Z has a few key beliefs that aren’t as common in other generations. They are less inclined to believe there is such a thing as the “American Dream.” Instead of looking for a “perfect” life, they look more for products and messages that reflect reality. Abercrombie & Fitch for example, focus on marketing their products by projecting a flawless, perfect world, but Generation Z simply doesn’t respond to these traditional notions of projected perfection.
Gen Z responds well to independence and self-direction. They are attracted to brands like Free People, where independence is implied in their brand name. Messages along the lines of freedom and individualism continuously attract Gen Zers. Free People is growing with sales up 25 percent in the first quarter of fiscal 2015.
According to a report from research firm Neilsen Holdings, “Each generation comes with a unique set of behaviors and presents a unique set of challenges for those looking to reach them… Gen Z are bombarded with messages and are a generation that can quickly detect whether or not something is relevant to them.”
Millennials quickly became the generation of customer service and were able to solve problems at any moment. They expected consistent success to come their way while Generation Z is making their own path with their generation containing highly-educated, technologically-savvy, innovative thinkers. Instead of looking for someone to solve their problems, they look for solutions on their own and set out to accomplish things independently.
In the United States, Generation Z will soon take the lead, but in other countries, millennials will continue to represent the bigger proportion in the world. The combined population of the United States, China, Japan and Germany is nearly 2 billion people and will have a ratio of 100 millennials for every 73 in Generation Z next year.