By Helena Stefanowicz
You may better know them as teeny-boppers, those obnoxious kids at the mall, or even your younger siblings, but to the marketing world they are Generation Z. 65 million strong in the States alone, this generation (generally acknowledged as those born between 1994 and 2004) currently has one of the most powerful influences on the marketplace. And yes, though they may worship the ground trampled by Disney stars, we must also remember that they are predicted to be the best educated generation thus far. So perhaps we should start paying more attention to their Beiber-obsessed tweets and hair-whipping trends.
The main priority of Generation Z? Easy: The Internet. They have not struggled through hard times without Facebook, nor do they understand the destitute conditions in which one must live to be without instant media downloading. Though they are almost entirely dependent on technology and thus lack many of the interpersonal skills of previous generations, Gen Z should mature to be responsible adults who value gender equality and individual expression even at the cost of strong family values and face-to-face communication skills. Micro-blogging, developing relationships via the Internet and shameless oversharing have become so commonplace with this generation that only personal information concerning finances is considered by them to be truly off-limits. Interestingly, it is this publishing of every thought and move from “Just had a cheese sandwich for lunch,” to “Wishing I could be in NYC for fashion week,” that marketing firms are using to target and gain Generation Z as consumers.
As a demographic cohort, Generation Z is not very brand-loyal, rather they are more interested in specific products. The exceptions tend to include electronics such as Apple products or Beats headphones which are publicized not only for their high function but also for their status symbol: “Selena Gomez has one? Guess I should get one too!” This makes them an easy target for firms if their product is picked up by a cultural icon and if they include interactive (preferably via texting) and amusing advertising that encourages teenagers to experiment with new products. Zs tend to cross over traditional social group boundaries, which means they are influential to other cohorts across the board and their creativity in style is acknowledged by companies and peers alike. They look more for function than value and design rather than cost.
Though young, the influence of Generation Z can be seen in fashion already. Trends such as multi-colored hair streaks began with celeb-offspring Willow Smith and Generation Z and eventually made its way to the red carpet with celebrities like Rachel McAdams and Lauren Conrad.
Even more so, their fearless use of color in street wear (shown here on Taylor Swift) has made its way to the runway – Bieber’s favorite hue anyone? (Versace A/W 2011-12) – and the high street (Zara’s summer 2012 collection).
With the move towards striving to stay young forever, it is no wonder that the youngest generation is influencing our fashion and trends. It’s time to stop seeing them as inconsequential kids and start asking them “So, what’s the deal with those new kicks?”
For More On Generation Z:
Ehret, Jay. (2011, July 6). Marketing to Gen Z–teens. The Marketing Blog: Turning Entrepreneurs into Marketers. Retrieved February 1st, 2012, from http://themarketingspot.com/2011/07/marketing-to-gen-zteens.html
Generation Z. (2011). Baby Boomer Care. Retrieved February 1st 2012 from http://babyboomercaretaker.com/baby-boomer/generation-z/
Savitt, Kathy. (2011, April 4). 3 ways companies can reach Generation Z. Mashable Business. Retrieved February 1st, 2012, from http://mashable.com/2011/04/08/marketing-generation-z/.