By: Milica Crnomarković, Market Researcher at Direct Media
The obsession with millennials is waning, but only to make room for Generation Z, which will obviously demand even harder work on our part.
It seems as though no previous generation spurred on more descriptive names than today’s youngest—Generation Z. The age group has by and large become a focal point of research, monitoring social trends, and marketing, and it’s commonly referred to as the “post-millennial generation.” No doubt because millennials themselves have been a strong force. Nonetheless, the generation taking their place sees day-to-day attempts at names aspiring to define its idiosyncrasies: Generation Z, GenZ, iGeneration, plurals, founders, teens—the list goes on.
Although children are the first thing that comes to mind when we think of Generation Z, they’re actually not that young. Indeed, the oldest Generation Z members are 20 years old. Different researchers have different stances on the cut-off years, and the most widespread one is that Generation Z pertains to individuals born after 1995. Because they were born in a time when the internet had long been around, they’re the first generation that literally knows the world only as “connected.”
They are already the most influential trendsetting group when it comes to technology, and they’re the ones to keep an eye on if we want to anticipate upcoming trends in terms of technology us, communications, and shopping habits. No surprise there, considering the first thing that Z kids got their hands on were phones instead of rattles. Albeit much older, we, too, forgot about encyclopaedias, cassette tapes, Walkmans, and floppy disks—terms that are ancient to them. They’re familar with touch screens and selfies more than balls or pens. Digital is part of their identity.
Unlike preceding generations—even millennials, who had to go outside to connect—this generation’s zone of interaction are their rooms. For them, social media are the main, most convenient way to engage and connect. And not only that, they give shape to their lifestyles. More than any generation before, Generation Zers create secret online profiles, usually to hide from their parents. They use pseudonyms or abbreviated versions of their names, curtailing their searchability. This lead them to become the creators of rinsta (real) and finsta (fake or friends only) Instagram accounts. They are obsessed with numbers of followers and likes, and they self-censor to a great extent. They simply delete the photos and posts that go unnoticed.
And still, their intent to consume digital content is more spontaneous than conscious. Concurrently digital native and social media driving, this generation consumes content in a more natural way. This is precisely why they are focused on influencers, who build their reputations on Instagram and YouTube and provide Generation Z with content that is simple and fluid consumption-wise. Music, makeup, or video games—influencers’ content is spontaneous, short, and in their language.
In Serbia, YouTubers are the ones who enjoy immense popularity. Based on the quantitative research conducted by Direct Media’s reserahc division on YouTube influencers among Generation Z, 85% of this generation’s members from urban areas are follow influencers on YouTube. While the younger ones follow local celebrities, older Generation Zers are turning to international influencers, feeling that they have outgrown local ones. Generation Z loves to watch funny, entertainment, and style videos, and the tips they hear ar regarded as highly credible.
According to estimates, Generation Z will make up 40% of the consumer market by 2020. One IBM and the American National Retail Federation study indicates that their purchasing power is far from the negligible 44 billion annually, which certainly makes them the next big target audience for marketers, brands, and the media. As claimed in a Sparks&Honey report, their average attention span is eight seconds—four seconds shorter than that of the average millennial—so it’s clear why we’ll all have to work harder. First to understand them, and then also to reach them.