The holidays are upon us, with Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the entire holiday shopping season happening soon.
Brands need to differentiate Generation Z -- teenagers and young adults in their early 20s -- from previous generations as they craft their marketing campaigns. They are sharply distinct from the generation directly before them, the Millennials, as well as from the older age cohorts like Generation X and Baby Boomers.
Not only is Gen Z different from older age groups when it comes to their outlook on life -- they have a lot of spending power.
First, their disposable income, powered by allowances, is considerably more than that of previous generations, at $44 billion per year.
Second, retail analysts believe they have more influence over family budgets than previous generations. They often have both parents working and pressed for time, and Generation Z, also known as "Centennials," spends a great deal of time online becoming familiar with products. As a result, they often know more about big-ticket purchases in the "family buy" category than their parents do. The family purchases they influence are worth $600 billion per year.
So how do marketers hone their messages to attract Generation Z this holiday season? Here are six tips.
1. Use social media.
Generation Z heavily uses social media, especially to shop. Eighty percent of this generation say social media influences their spending decisions. They are more influenced by social media than by sales or special deals, for example. Seventy-three percent pay more attention to social media influencers than to celebrities when buying goods and services.
That said, not all social media is created equal. Many marketing analysts believe the proliferation of social media has made Generation Z more choosy about where they spend their time online. Social media influencers on Instagram offer a personal connection, which is very important in shopping connections, especially for young women.
Both genders also like brands that inspire their own individuality and creativity. For these qualities, they especially tend to access Pinterest, Peach and Tumblr. Both young men and young women use Twitter for updates and news.
2. Optimize mobile campaigns.
Generation Z uses mobile phones to access both social media and online shopping, to view campaigns, interact with brands and to make purchases.
They are twice as likely to use mobile as Generation X, their parents' generation. It goes without saying that savvy marketers will optimize mobile campaigns for this generation, with specific appeals.
3. Don't neglect in-store shopping.
Perhaps one of the most surprising findings about the shopping behavior of Generation Z is that they shop in brick-and-mortar stores frequently. Forty-five percent hit the local mall and other stores to do their shopping.
Given the frequently cited stats about how likely this generation is to go to social media and use mobile -- both of which are completely true -- it's worth keeping in mind that they like to gas up the car and drive to the mall to do holiday shopping, as well.
4. Keep going throughout the season.
It's important for marketers to keep brand marketing going throughout the season. Centennials shop heavily throughout the period. They are twice as likely to shop on Black Friday than their grandparents' generation, the Baby Boomers. But more than 33 percent say they are likely to shop after Black Friday, as well. This is a key distinction between Generation Z and Millennials. Millennials start shopping before Black Friday and tend to taper off early.
Fifteen percent of Generation Z like to shop after December 15, so tapering off is not a strategy for this cohort.
5. Appeal to their values.
Generation Z is far less concerned than previous generations with categories like race and gender. They believe in challenging norms around beauty, for example. They also believe in freedom of expression. Campaigns that appeal to these values will be successful.
Beauty products that use spokespeople with unconventional looks, for instance, stand out to them as being from their generation. The thin blonde model who appealed to their parents' generation may not appeal to them. Seventy-three percent make purchasing decisions based on social media influencers, too.
6. Allow them to personalize.
Generation Z wants to personalize the products they buy and make them unique. This is especially true of products related to their personal appearance. Generation Z believes in unity between the inner and outer selves. Seventy-nine percent, for example, agree the way they present themselves is pivotal to who they are.
That's a great opportunity for marketers to supply products and services that, in the minds of Generation Z, express them as the unique selves they are to the outside world.
Generation Z controls a lot of family spending and has a considerable amount of personal spending power at their disposal.
As a result, marketers need to craft generation-specific brand campaigns this holiday season.
They need to deploy multiple social media channels that harmonize with in-store campaigns and to use their campaigns throughout the holiday season in ways that appeal to Generation Z's values and uniqueness.