gen-z

Millennials have been all the rage with marketers for the past decade, but, as is inevitable, a new generation with a whole new set of preferences is coming to redefine your marketing strategies: Generation Z. Nope, it’s not a horror movie it’s today’s teens.

While there is no precise birth date assigned to this group, most choose the mid-1990s to early 2000s. However, what truly defines this age group is not the exact year of their birth, but whether or not they were born into a household that already had internet.

Gen Z is officially the first group of humans who have no memory of pre-internet life. And in 2017, the oldest of them will be old enough to have achieved a university degree and enter the workforce.

So what does that mean for your brand? Well, obviously, you need to ante up your online presence if you want to attract Generation Z.

Here are some key points to focus on in 2017 to ensure that your brand can keep up with the expectations of the most connected generation ever:

1. Understand the new class of influencers: online stars.

If you’re still reminiscing about the good old days of Hollywood and sports celebrity endorsements being effective, it’s time to wake up. This generation’s influencers are incredibly diverse, which can be both good and bad.

The good news is that there is likely an influencer that holds exceptional power over your target niche audience. The bad news is that you have to find them. Hopefully you welcome the challenge – may the odds be ever in your favor.

2. Get on the content marketing train now, or be left behind.

Many of Generation Z’s formative time included the worst years for online advertising, ones filled with excessive banner ads, incredibly creepy levels of personalization, and a general lack of ethics and self-policing for brands.

Though companies in every industry are wising up to the fact that in-your-face advertising doesn’t work, the damage has already been done. Generation Z has a deep-seated hatred for obvious advertising.

3. Doing good and responsible manufacturing will go far.

In addition to growing up during the Great Recession, Generation Z also came to their own among the Occupy movement, the BP oil spill, and many other incredibly low points for government and big business. They’re anti-establishment, but still well versed in environmental and social issues due to their comfort with social media.

If you have a social good initiative, be loud and proud about it. If you don’t, well, shame on you. Go create one. You’ll reap in the profits, as well as the karma.

4. Honesty – have #NoFilter.

You may be noticing a theme. Teens today are even more distrusting than what their reputation might say, and for good reason. Because of this, dancing around ideas or avoiding difficult subjects is no longer a good strategy.

The most successful brands have in-your-face, shocking advertising. Look to companies like Dollar Shave Club (and while you’re at it, Dollar Beard Club) to find the line for offending this group (hint: it doesn’t exist).

5. Create value-dense content.

Arguably the most overstimulated generation in history, Generation Z is quick to pass over content that isn’t valuable to them, either as entertainment, information or education. However, don’t assume they have a short attention span. Instead, they’ve just developed the best content filtering abilities yet.

In fact, it takes a Gen Z-er an average of eight seconds to evaluate an article. So don’t waste their time; they grew up with limitless entertainment options. They’ll be able to find a similar, better option in less time than it will take to consume what they’re currently looking at.