generation z

Just when you’re confident that you’ve figured out how to reach the Millennial market, along comes a new audience: Generation Z. This group makes up a quarter of the U.S. population and by 2020 will account for 40% of all consumers. And while many are teens still living with their parents or grandparents, Generation Z holds nearly $44 billion in spending power. If you consider their influence on household spending, that number can top out at $200 billion.

That’s a lot of money on the line, so understanding the needs, aspirations, and behaviors of Generation Z should be a top priority for marketers in 2017. If you want to reach them, you have to understand how they think. Here are a few thoughts to get you started.

Offer True Multi-Channel Experiences

Generation Z are digital natives in the truest form. They’ve been completely influenced by technology their entire lives, and spend most of their time online. They’d rather have a digital conversation than a face-to-face discussion any day.

Consequently, the easiest way to reach Gen Z is through your social media presence. Social media is where they live and play, and where they discover the brands they love. This generation is used to seamlessly moving between television, laptop, desktop, tablet, and smartphone—from websites to social media to apps. Smart brands will invest in digital platforms that allow these consumers to co-create shared brand experiences. Gen Z is hands-on: they want to try it, take it apart, and recreate it.

Be Truly Engaging

Authenticity is a must with Generation Z. They’re savvy, and they want to see that a brand is authentic and aligns with their own values. They don’t stick around for brands that don’t ring true. They want to be amused, and appreciate social content that is funny and entertaining. A great example is Chubbies. Constantly posting humorous photos to Instagram and other social platforms, Chubbies’ frat-boy mentality and the catchphrase “sky’s out, thighs out” set the brand apart.

Another key part of authenticity is engagement. Real, two-way conversations, where questions are answered and relationships are forged are the way to Generation Z’s heart and wallet.

Recognize Their Mindset

Gen Zs are much more realistic than Millennials. They’ve lived through 9/11, witnessed an ever-increasing number of school shootings, and watched their parents lose jobs during the Great Recession. As a result, this generation is more cautious and more focused on social causes, as well as their own financial futures. Having seen the effects of the failing economy firsthand, Gen Z consumers will work hard to avoid debt and are less likely to make impulse purchases.

They also have a genuine desire to have a positive impact on the world. Show that your brand believes in social good by finding something you really care about as a company, and let that passion shine through in your marketing messages. Share your story so that Gen Z can determine if your brand values match their own.

Video Content Is Huge

With 90% of Generation Z saying they watch YouTube videos daily, video content is one of the most effective ways to engage with this generation. They even get their television content—both broadcast and cable options—through streaming options like Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu.

Videos that are both educational and entertaining are especially effective. Thinking along the lines of “edutainment” can reap big rewards. But this group is not just watching videos; they’re making their own, too. Give these teens and young adults a chance to shine by creating user generated content contests and watch your audience grow by leaps and bounds.

Look for ways to let your brand personality shine through in your marketing, because Gen Z consumers want relationships with brands they can genuinely connect with.