Boomers? Gen X? Millennials? Move aside and make way for the newest generation making waves in the marketing industry: Gen Z! Born after 1996, many members of Generation Z aren’t even old enough to vote yet. The oldest of the group turning 23 just this year. But despite their seemingly young age, they’ve been given an advantage. And that’s the ability to be a completely internet dependent generation; with a whole lot of influence that comes with it. 

Just last week, a couple of our expert team members virtually attended the WP Engine webinar: “Generation Influence. Gen Z and the power of identity in marketing” featuring Jason Dorsey, a leading Millennial and Gen Z researcher and president with the Center for Generational Kinetics, as well as Mary Ellen Dugan, CMO at WP Engine. And we learned a ton about how Gen Z is making an impact on buying habits; and influencing the marketing aimed at every other generation. Join us as we discuss what sets this generation apart and what differences they’re making in marketing at every turn.

Who is Gen Z?

According to WP Engine’s brand new, groundbreaking study (data collected pre-COVID-19) with The Center for Generational Kinetics, the identity of Gen Z is unlike other generations. One difference being that they are the most internet dependent generation. So much so that anything less than 1 hour without screen time can feel pretty uncomfortable for 24% of participants. And while these users, who need constant access, are active on the internet, many have become their own content creators. With some even making a living doing so in industries like gaming, vlogging, and more. Even teaching themselves, through trial and error, about platforms like WordPress. Interestingly enough, Gen Z is leading all Americans in planning to (21%) or possibly starting (24%) their own business in the future. 

What else sets Gen Z apart on the internet? Their overall openness and transparency. Because they are born-digital, they have a digital mindset – and a digital vision to match. According to the study, they see the digital experience as being the emotional human experience; that they are one and the same. In fact, 54% of Gen Z members share images publicly online, 50% share videos publicly online, and 46% even share selfies publicly online. And they hope that honesty is reciprocated; with 23% trusting someone they met online rather than in person and 56% being friends with someone they only know online and have never actually met in person. But above all, Dugan says that Gen Z wants entertainment before information. That personalization is important, but a predictive experience (41%) is really what they’re searching for in comparison to an anonymous one (59%). 

The Gen Z Difference

So, how does that translate into making a difference? The answer is influence. Generation influence more specifically. To do this, they’ve achieved a cohesion as a generation; and they are similar around the world due to internet and cheap technology access. According to the WP Engine’s study, freedom (22%) and tech-savviness (19%) are the most important things to them. Which seeps into everything they do. Intriguingly, 72% believe they are part of a social movement, as a form of activism, only if they are responding to a position on social media. 

Less surprisingly, 72% of Gen Z participants use brands that contribute to a social cause, compared to 69% of Millenials, 62% of Gen X, and Boomers coming in last at 51%. Truly, a great product is what builds Gen Z’s trust in a company or brand the most. Across all generations, loyalty ranked highest in importance, which means they use a product regularly. As long as it aligns with their values and helps others view their lifestyle as cool, of course. They are, however, more likely to buy a product if they can customize it (75%) in comparison to 56% of Boomers. Plus, because they do the research, they don’t need to know someone to have recommendations. But on top of it all, Gen Z has a sense of corporate social responsibility; and they’ll forgive you if you aren’t perfect, which is pretty critical for a brands longevity nowadays.

To fully build trust in a company or a brand, Gen Z is looking for quality products, stellar customer service, and most importantly: honesty. Achieved through real online reviews, from real customers. In fact, 82% of participants in the study said they would trust a company more if the images they use are unedited and of actual customers. Compared to Boomers at 73% with the same feeling, and even Millenials at 79%, this younger generation is holding companies accountable and demanding more transparency, which is beneficial to all of us in the long run.

Gen Z Influence

To put it frankly, Gen Z has the power to make huge changes in marketing and buying habits for all generations to follow. For example, 59% of Gen Z participants believe that all shopping will begin to take place online within the next 10 years. However, it may take a moment for other generations to catch up to similar sentiments. Take for instance the stance on AI. 64% of Gen Z thinks artificial intelligence will positively impact the world; and only 46% of Boomers feel the same way. 

According to the study, 79% of Gen Z participants feel as though the internet has made people even more connected, compared to 70% of Boomers. So, how do we bridge this disconnect? By realizing the similarities between generations, what they want, and letting Gen Z lead the charge. Case in point being that all generations, with the exception of ready-to-eat food, prefer websites over apps for online purchases. And this could drastically change how we do our online shopping in the future. 

According to the webinar, if we make a Gen Z digital experience other generations will continue to catch up – which is key. 

Work with ON Advertising

As the world shifts towards Gen Z influence, we are keeping up with what’s new at ON Advertising. Because we believe that in order to keep up with the ever-changing marketplace, it’s essential to stay in the know. When you partner with us we develop a strategy, based on research, that targets your ideal audience and accomplishes your business growth goals. And from advertising to digital marketing, full-service is what we do best. 
Contact us  to speak with our team of experts and start working with us today!