The era of Generation Z is coming. Bloomberg reports that in 2019, Generation Z will pass up millennials as the most populous generation. That means that next year, 32 percent of the entire population will be 23 years old or younger, and your marketing strategy will need to change drastically to make sure you reach them.
Marketing to the first digital-native generation requires a whole new set of skills and a visual-first mindset. They're a generation of Snapchat users who are more likely to share visual content than millennials and more likely to cite YouTube as their preferred learning method, according to a 2018 report from Pearson. This means that more than any generation before them, they connect and communicate via visual media. They're also better than ever at judging the quality and effectiveness of visual communication, meaning they're quick to pass up poorly made visuals, stock imagery, inauthentic messaging, and text-heavy designs.
Here are six essential ways to reinvent your visual marketing strategy for Generation Z.
1. Get to know them.
You can't connect with your audience if you don't know anything about them, so here's what you need to know. Anyone born after 1996 belongs to Generation Z. While they're poised to become the most populous generation next year, their numbers continue to grow -- and they're growing fast. By 2020, Adweek reports that 40 percent of all consumers will be part of Gen Z. That means that there are very few industries that won't have to learn how to market to these digital natives.
2. Optimize for each and every platform.
Generation Z is a multi-platform and multi-screen generation, and they won't stand for content that doesn't display well wherever they are. While millennials became famous for using up to three screens at once, Forbes reports that Generation Z engages with as many as five screens at a time.
With so much great content out there already, you can't afford to post a video you've optimized for YouTube directly to your Snapchat story. For one thing, you're dealing with horizontal vs. vertical formats. For another, Snapchat works best for brands when it shows their playful, human side--so you'll have to consider what videos you're sharing there.
It's worth the effort to revise and repurpose content for every platform you're sharing it on. After all, more than 80 percent of Gen-Zers are influenced by social media when it comes to their online shopping choices, compared to 74 percent of millennials according to a Yes Lifecycle Marketing survey. So a little optimization can go a long way for your bottom line.
3. Opt for efficient messaging.
Generation Z has an even shorter attention span than millennials do, meaning you just have just a few precious seconds to convince them to keep engaging. Consider how YouTube ads work: most of the time, viewers can skip an ad after five seconds, making those moments crucial. You can get strong motion graphic or video engagement for up to two minutes, but if you don't hook them in the first few seconds, the rest of the video won't make a difference. Focus on those first moments of engagement as key -- whether you're creating a motion graphic, a static infographic, or an interactive widget.
4. Prioritize authenticity.
With Generation Z, the old style of marketing -- where big companies reach out to large conglomerations of consumers at once -- is a thing of the past. Gen-Zers want to feel that you're talking to them directly, and that your content is customized for them personally. They prefer marketing that features "real people"; Google reports that 70 percent find YouTube influencers more relatable than celebrities.
This trend is showing up in their buying habits, as well. Generation Z actually prefers in-person interaction more than millennials do, with 49 percent making online purchases compared to 74 percent of millennials.
5. Focus on video.
Generation Z watches 68 videos a day on average. That means that if you want to connect with them, motion graphics and video are one of your best bets. It makes sense, then, to build your next visual campaign around a motion graphic whose workbench can be repurposed for static infographics and social-media narratives. This will give your campaign a consistent look and feel while ensuring that you stay in budget and get the best return on your investment.
6. Step up your interactivity game.
We already know that Generation Z prefers messaging that is personalized to them. That's why Adweek recommends letting Generation Z "help produce or create the message." To deliver on this, it's essential to invest in interactive content -- from online quizzes and games to widgets that personalize their buying experience. After all, 42 percent of Gen-Zers would participate in a marketing campaign's online game, and 43 percent would engage with a product review, according to a survey by IBM. Interactive tools make the buying experience feel personalized directly for their needs.
Follow these six directives and you'll be sure to engage Generation Z on a whole new level -- and secure the success of your company for years to come.