Generation Z, comprised of individuals who were born from the mid-1990’s to the mid-2000’s, are about to surpass Millennials, as per Bloomberg, “Gen Z will comprise 32 percent of the global population of 7.7 billion in 2019, nudging ahead of millennials, who will account for a 31.5 percent share” (Bloomberg, 2018). This rising group of consumers who, unlike many of us, were born into the digital world, are indeed changing many facets of business and entertainment; their immense understanding and fascination with technology, coupled with their relatively short attention span (around 8 seconds, compared to Millennial’s 12 seconds), are revolutionizing the way website developers and content creators reach their audiences.
Those born in 2001 will be turning 18 this year, beginning their journeys to becoming consumers who can vote, go to college, and have a significant impact on the success of e-commerce businesses and websites. As any successful business owner, stock trader, or entrepreneur will tell you, both predicting and staying ahead of rising trends is key to retaining clients and profit. So, I wanted to share some ideas I have for preparing my websites for the coming wave of new potential customers.
Millennials Vs. Gen Z
While Millennials and Gen Z are often combined into the same category regarding marketing strategies due to their knowledge of tech, there are significant differences between the two. In fact, the two generations should be treated as entirely independent audiences, both having different preferences, habits, and reasons for their online presence.
You may have heard the many tales of the demise of retail stores. E-commerce monsters like Amazon are currently saturating the market with their enormous stock, fast and free shipping, and the comfort of ordering online. While the older generations would go to the mall to purchase something, more often than not, Millennials and Gen Z are taking their business online. Per Jamie Netzer of Spredfast, “by 2020, some reports project they’ll command nearly 40 percent of all consumer shopping. What’s more, 93 percent of parents say their Gen Z offspring influence household spending” (Netzer, 2018). With this information, it is imperative to use this data to your benefit. With the rise of online shopping, your online business needs to be prepared for the fall of local retailers. Think about what companies like Amazon offer their customers. The ability to quickly search for products and easily navigate websites is paramount for attracting younger customers. Also, think of family dynamics, for those younger customers who may still live with their parents, products need to be both enticing for teens, yet have enough details for those who are actually buying the products (parents).
As previously mentioned, the attention span of newer generations if far less, however, it is crucial to understand how they use digital content. Due to Generation Z’s short attention span, they tend to juggle multiple screens while online, I for one, have about eight screens open on two monitors as I write this. With the changes to how Gen Z responds to advertising, for example, television commercials are going to become less effective in the coming years. As a web dev, using Gen Z’s short attention span to your advantage is quite simple. Instead of focusing on grabbing a potential viewer/customer’s attention (initially) by great content (sounds terrible, I know), turn to flashy and short videos, bright and colorful images, and thought-inspiring brief headlines (once, you have their attention, hit them with that fire).
Furthermore, due to Gen Z’s likelihood to juggle around five screens on average, integration with social media and other content on your webpage is a must, offering the young consumer the ability to do what they love; whatever they want. It is also noteworthy that a difficult to navigate or slow-loading website is like kryptonite to the younger audience, and the responsiveness of mobile sites is far more influential than desktop-oriented versions (mobile devices are becoming, if not already, the norm). Pay attention to your scripts, layout, and social media reach. Embrace avenues such as (short) video content, live chat capabilities, and diverse topics covering a wide range of exciting options.
Oh, how things have changed. Many in our parent’s generations are acclimated to made-to-order celebrity news stories, fake news and other forms of attention-grabbing content, and above all, Photoshopped, well…everything. For the first time, Millennials began to make a plea for original content that they, themselves, had the ability to create an opinion for, not just be told what to like. The days of force-feeding watered down news stories are beginning to fall, and in its place, comes brands and publications advertising less factory-produced content.
So, what does this mean to you, the online business/website owner? First, be prepared for newer generations to fact check your content. Also, editing pictures too-heavily can reduce engagement, for example, after American Eagle implemented a policy eliminating Photoshop, their sales went up significantly. Loyalty programs are something older generations were fond of; virtually pledging your allegiance to one brand in the hopes of gaining freebies or discounts. Gen Z operates very differently, in that they often desire the freedom to choose which brand they wish to purchase, on their terms. Oh, and one other thing, when it comes to phone sales, don’t bother. Personally, when I get an actual call rather than an email or text, I get pretty annoyed (most of Gen Z are very similar). Furthermore, around 60% of Gen Z consumers will hang up if their call isn’t answered in under 40 seconds, which should give you a general understanding of how your customer service should operate.
Gen Z loves interactive advertising methods. A short, cleverly designed, questionnaire on a website can yield great results. Additionally, social media share buttons, customer reviews, and above all, trendy images (memes) are a great way to both capture the younger audiences and retain their relatively short attention long enough to make a sale. While these changes can be daunting for the older generations who generate content manage websites, they are (in my opinion) welcome additions to how the online world operates. Research, adapt, and overcome.
Miller, Lee J. Lu, Wei. (2018). Bloomberg. Gen Z Is Set to Outnumber Millennials Within a Year. Retrieved from https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-08-20/gen-z-to-outnumber-millennials-within-a-year-demographic-trends.
Patel, Deep. (2017). Forbes. 5 Differences Between Marketing To Millennials Vs. Gen Z. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/deeppatel/2017/11/27/5.
Jaime, Netzer. (2018). Spredfast. 5 Stats on Generation Z Buying Habits Marketers Need. Retrieved from https://www.spredfast.com/social-marketing-blog/5-stats-generation-z-buying-habits-marketers-need.