By Nadine Lerm, Media Strategist at The MediaShop
The new generation which brands are taking a keen interest in are called Gen Z or ‘Zoomers’, this refers to people born between 1997 and 2015, who are within the age range of 7 to 25 years old in 2022, representing almost 27.5 million people in South Africa. This generation overlaps the born free audience, the generation born in South Africa after the fall of apartheid in 1994.
Like generations before them, Gen Z bring their own unique perspective on the world. Here are three key characteristics that define them:
The first being virtual yet social according to a Mazars study. Gen Z has been surrounded by digital technology from a young age, so they expect to be constantly connected and demand seamless digital experiences. This doesn’t mean that they don’t value human contact. As regular users of social media, Zoomers value interaction and engagement. They also place significance on building relationships with others as well as brands. Secondly, Gen Z consumers want to obtain as much information as possible, within the shortest amount of time and in a concise manner. Due to their short attention spans, content shared needs to immediately grab their attention and stimulate their interest.
The internet and social media have enabled Zoomers to always have access to information in a timely manner, which gives them political awareness at a relatively young age, leading to the third characteristic. They are one of the most vocal and active generations on social justice for driving change and are seen as perhaps the most progressive. By meeting Gen Z where they are, brands and institutions can drive meaningful social change. Brands that connect with this digital-first audience through the mobilization of technology and purpose-driven messaging will win their hearts and minds.
Now that we understand that this audience is digitally lead, that they value interaction and engagement, they have short attention spans and are one of the most vocal and active generations on social justice and driving change, we need to understand the challenges of marketing to this generation.
No generation has been as empowered as Gen Z is. Technology has given them the freedom to break free from traditional media channels. In turn, this freedom has given them a choice of what they consume, when they consume it, on their preferred platform. In order to grab Gen Z’s attention, brands need to offer them attention-grabbing and hyper-relevant information and content. Living in a fast-paced world has conditioned Zoomers to be able to pass on anything remotely irrelevant in their eyes.
They use each social media channel for different purpose, they use Twitter to get news, Instagram to exhibit their aspirational lives, Snapchat to share daily interactions and Facebook for information according to research by campaignmonitor.com. Social Media is also their most preferred channel to engage with a brand. The average young person spent around 2h31min on social media per day. In order to stand out when targeting Gen Z, include video and stimulating images when you can, connect with the Gen Z customer on a human level and use critical data tracking to deliver personalised experiences.
It is challenging to connect with Generation Z, but it is key to understanding them as they are pivotal to the growth of brands in SA in the future.