How To: Six Tips to Reach Generation Z

By Samantha Kirsch

I am nineteen years old.  As such, I am one of the millions of kids who find themselves in limbo between the Millennial generation and Generation Z. Millennials is a term typically used to describe people born from the mid 1980s through the mid 1990s.  Generation Z, on the other hand, is described as people born in the late 1990s through the early 2010s.

Generation Z is one that was born into a world of technology, while Millennials grew into it.  Technology and its impact on life has changed drastically within the seventeen years members of Generation Z exited the womb.  My past nineteen years have seen the rise of the internet, laptop computers, and social media, plus the birth of Google, YouTube, Facebook and smartphones.

Generation Z is a generation of social media. When I was a sixth grader you were lucky if you owned a phone and you might have had a MySpace or a Facebook if you lied about your age. By eighth grade nearly all my friends were on Twitter, keeping up with Justin Bieber, among others.

Nowadays, it is common to see a ten year-old with the newest iPhone, which is quite possibly the first phone they have owned.  They probably already have Snapchat, where they’re communicating with disappearing images, or they have Instagram, where the younger you join, the more followers you seem to end up with.  Gone are the days of walking out of school talking to your friends in person. Now students have their eyes glued to the screen in front of them, barely hearing their middle-aged teacher tell them to watch their step.

So how should companies reach my demographic: current high school and college students? How are we different than the generation before us? What do we like?

1. Cool, “good” products

For us, cool experiences outweigh cool products, but we do appreciate a cool product. Products that do good and are good. Brands like TOMS, Patagonia, Warby Parker, KIND, and Ben & Jerry’s are popular across the board, but Generation Z really cares about the cause.  So much of our lives have been filled with war in the Middle East, the consequences of climate change, rough economic times, and a more publicized view into the inequalities occurring in developing countries.

2. Quick Responses

Generation Z does not like to wait. We live in a world where everything is at our fingertips.  We value companies that respond to what we want and respond fast. Emails are good once in a while, but contacting companies over social media is so much easier.  I’ve had multiple conversations with friends about how we like a brand because they responded to one of our tweets or just because their customer service was fast and simple to reach.

3. Team Camaraderie

By 2020, Generation Z will make up greater than 20 percent of the North American and European workforce.  In the working world, we want to know that we are part of a team. We want to know that our existence is valued and that our passions are too. If we don’t feel intrigued by our work or that it’s unfulfilling, don’t expect Generation Z to stick around for long.  DoSomething.org knows and writes extensively about it in their book, The XYZ Factor.

4. Global is the only scale we know

9/11 happened when I was a kindergartener. Every substantial international event happened with our eyes open and receiving information, whether it be from the multiple TVs in our houses, our cellphones, or the internet.  We matured while watching the Middle East in turmoil and natural disasters come with their own hashtag and text-to-donate campaign.  We see global issues as our issues and know that we can help in one way or another. Our purchasing power has us back brands that have a mission that we can get behind and support.

5. We understand and value Social Entrepreneurship

Today’s students have grown up learning about social entrepreneurship and sustainability in the classroom.  Global issues and ways to combat them are part of our curriculum.. We started recycling campaigns in elementary and middle school, learned about FGM and microfinance in high school, and were immersed in sustainability in college – a future making a positive impact is the only future in our minds.

6. We know we have to make a change for the better and work together to see it through

Take Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani activist for female education and the youngest-ever Nobel Prize laureate. Malala, a member of Generation Z, has already had a huge impact on the world, empowering others to stand up for their beliefs and teaching them to not let anything get in their way.

Stay tuned to see what the rest of us are capable of and we won’t let you down.


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