Last week I attended a high school lacrosse game. In between watching 16-year-old guys run up and down the field I observed the attendees, parents sitting in the upper bleachers and a pack of 25 or so girls lining the bottom row. All the girls had come with neon hued posters decorated with supportive messages for their favorite players. One even read “#10 is my prom date.” It was classic American high school sports at its best, with one exception. In between cheering and squeeling for the guys on the field, the girls were texting, tweeting, googling and communicating on their smartphones.
EMarketer estimates 96% of teens are internet users. In a recent eMarketer report the website says:
Teenagers live, eat, sleep and breathe the internet. Teens are gobbling up smartphones at a rabid pace, enabling them to perform on the go many of the same online activities they once did at home.Today’s teens will soon be the next generation of adults, and their media habits have implications that will cascade to the rest of the population.
As smartphones become the norm, more and more teens will have access to essentially a PC in their pocket. The way the next generation of consumers gathers information on the internet will evolve in just a few years and with this marketers should be brainstorming how they want to communicate with Generation Z or the Net Generation.
According to ReadWriteWeb, Generation Y, their predecessors, are considered to be the first generation of ‘digital natives.’ They’re entire existence has included computers and they are web savvy.
Most importantly, the site says, they don’t like advertising.
Because they are immersed in media, both online and off, Gen Y’ers are marketed to left and right. But when it comes to making decisions, Gen Y tends to rely on their network of friends and their recommendations, not traditional ads. “Ads that push a slogan, an image, and a feeling, the younger consumer is not going to go for,” says James R. Palczynski, retail analyst for Ladenburg Thalmann & Co. Instead, they respond to “humor, irony, and the unvarnished truth.” They’re also somewhat distrusting of ads, which is why grassroots efforts can also work. However, don’t get too comfortable, Gen Y doesn’t have brand loyalty – they’re quick to move the next big thing.
And if that’s the case for Gen Y, think of Gen Z! Generation Z is a crop of individuals who have grown up in a super accelerated digital environment. Data-driven marketers should start brainstorming now on how they’ll communicate with Gen Z tomorrow.