Ask Generation Z: How brands can target the new kids on the block

content marketing + digital experience


Ask Gen Z: How brands can target the new kids on the block

May 5, 2017

It’s no secret that millennials are a coveted target market for many brands. We make up a larger portion of the workforce than any other generation and are predicted to generate $1.4 trillion in disposable income by 2020 – that’s a huge opportunity for savvy marketers. 

But while we millennials are flattered to be so desired, it won’t be long before the next group of tech-crazy youths start to dominate the market.

Mediablaze loves to stay ahead of the next big thing. That’s why it’s time to get to grips with Generation Z, typically born sometime after the mid 90s.  

Generation Z vs Millennials

Gen Z are a bit different…

The main difference between millennials and Gen Z has to do with technology: the way they use it, know it, and live with it.

Millennials have always had technology in their lives, but it wasn’t always as advanced as it is today. Generation Z don’t have memories of portable CD players or communicating on AOL instant messenger. Instead, they only know a life with their personal touchscreen devices.

Technology entered many millennials’ lives at a pivotal point: puberty. Just as they started to get pimples and braces, they also got their first flip phones. It became a new cultural norm that changed the way they interacted with each other and understood communication.

There were no more calls to friends with the landline phone, and you didn’t even need to talk to your crush in person anymore because you could text him/her instead. Generation Z aren’t experiencing this pivotal, coming of age “digital puberty” the way millennials did. Instead, they are exposed to it from their toddler years.


As a result of this high exposure, Gen Z are growing up differently to any previous generation. Millennials grew up with technology, but Gen Z are growing up fast because of technology. They have privacy options and unlimited information at their fingertips, allowing them to make Instagram accounts, post Woman Crush Wednesday photos, and access adult content at very young ages. (Not to mention anything and everything they could learn from a Google search.)

To gain a better understanding about their social media habits, Mediablaze consulted with a group of Generation Z-ers themselves. Here is what we learned:

Pictures > Words
All members of the sample group agreed that their most used social platform is Snapchat, followed by Instagram, then Twitter and Facebook. They like to “see” what their friends are doing, not read about it.

Social first
Most claim to use social media to stay in touch with their friends and family. Forget about phone calls; they don’t even need to text a friend to see what they are doing anymore. Rather, they can just see what everyone is doing based on what they post on social media, and vice versa. They always want to be in the loop, which is why Snapchat’s ability to provide real-time life updates is so important to them.

They don’t ‘care’ about brands (sorry)
Scores of people in this generation aren’t following many brands. If they do follow any, it’s because the brand’s proposition directly correlates with their interests, and means more to them than just a brand they buy. For example, girls who take ballet classes will often follow ballet clothing brands or professional ballerinas, but not necessarily follow other brands they use. If they follow a brand, it’s going to be a company that they identify with and could learn from or look up to.

Carefree posting
The Generation Z kids we consulted claimed not to put too much thought into what they post, and as a result their social media accounts portray their lives more authentically. This is a major difference between millennials and Gen Z. Behind many young millennial (university-aged) Instagram posts are 75 rejected photos, an hour of filtering and caption brainstorming, and approval by close friends. Generation Z don’t use the platforms as a status statement or personal brand the way millennials do.

Engaging with Generation Z:

Use eye-catching, photo focused, short and sweet messages to get their attention. This group has very short attentions spans – they are used to images only existing for 10 seconds at most, and probably won’t even look for the full 10 seconds. They won’t take the time to read long copy, but they are also exposed to so many images in a day that brands need to present something interesting to earn their attention.

For Generation Z, social media is a big part of their lives, but it’s not a big deal to them. It has always been there, and it’s as natural to communicate via social media as it is to have a ‘real’, face-to-face conversation – if not more natural. Because Gen Z use social media for friendly conversation, brands will need to shift their marketing tactics in order to be seen more as “friends” and less as companies to win the hearts of Gen Z.

The millennial reign isn’t officially over, so don’t abandon them quite yet. However, it is wise for brands to prepare their marketing strategies for the rise of Generation Z.

The Mediablaze team helps brands engage with diverse audience every day, so reach out at [email protected] to learn more!

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