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Author: WhiteHot Marketing Intern Elizabeth Sutherland

Move aside millennials; companies are starting to focus more marketing resources on reaching the next generation, Generation Z.

While marketing and shaping strategies around millennials is still important, your company should start investing more time in strategizing how to reach Gen Z. This upcoming generation already has around $44 billion in annual purchasing power, not counting the money they persuade their parents to spend.

Generation Z expects a lot from brands in a much different way than previous generations. In order to create an effective marketing strategy, you must first understand Gen Z. Here’s what you need to know about the upcoming generation:

Generation Z LOVES their smartphones.
We all know that young people love their technology, but maybe you didn’t know that Gen Z multitasks across 5 electronic screens daily: a smartphone, tablet, laptop, desktop and television. They are truly digital natives, never having known life without electronics and social media. However, there is one device in particular that this generation favors. Researchers find that Gen Z prefers to spend time on their smartphones more than any other electronic device in order to best stay connected to the vast digital world.

What you can do: It’s important to be accessible to Gen Z across a range of electronic platforms, but consider greatly improving your mobile marketing. It is ESSENTIAL that your campaign and website be mobile friendly to reach this generation. If your website isn’t mobile friendly, Gen Z is off looking at the next website in a matter of seconds, which means a lost purchase for you.

Generation Z values authenticity and transparency.
Gen Z does not respond well to traditional advertising and disregards celebrity endorsements. Instead, they seek influencers and peer reviews to help them make purchasing decisions. This generation looks up to bloggers, Snapchat users and YouTube stars such as Pewdiepie, a YouTube star with over 47.5 million subscribers. Gen Z trusts the opinions of these bloggers and influencers because they feel that their opinions are raw and honest.

What you can do: This is where a brand advocacy program can help you reach this audience. If Gen Z sees real people expressing their genuine opinion of your brand, they will be far likelier to trust and buy your product. One more piece of advice: NEVER lie (or even exaggerate) about your company or product. This generation is made up of avid researchers and will find the truth. If your promotional material does not accurately portray your company or does not align with your customers’ personal experiences, Gen Z has no problem breaking all ties with your company. Remember – always be authentic and transparent.

Generation Z communicates with visuals.
The once great and mighty Facebook has been dethroned as the most popular social media site among teens and tweens. Gen Z prefers visual-based social media platforms such as YouTube, Snapchat and Instagram. In fact, 85 percent of Gen Z visits YouTube more than any other social site (hence Pewdiepie’s popularity mentioned above). This makes sense when you consider that Gen Z has an 8-second attention span. Visuals allow them to communicate much faster than they can through text. Emojis and images are truly replacing the alphabet with this generation.

What you can do: Communicate and connect with Gen Z through the use of emojis, pictures, videos, GIFs, and symbols. Not only will this display your brand message faster, it will feel more engaging and personal to Gen Z. Note: Use visuals that make the most sense and feel the most authentic for your company. Excessive usage of emojis, for example, can come across as inauthentic and pandering which will quickly turn off consumers.You should also integrate lots of “snackable content” into your ad campaign for this audience. Communicate your brand’s message through more visual-based social media (where all the cool kids hang out) and make sure all visuals can be viewed on mobile devices.

Getting familiar with up and coming generations is an important job for all marketers, especially considering that even if they aren’t now, one day they will be your target audience. As with all target audiences, it’s critical to not only learn how to effectively communicate, but also how to truly engage and collaborate in order to garner attention and build lasting relationships.

Final piece of advice: In addition to reading up on Gen Z, it’s also a good idea to conduct your own research such as surveys and focus groups. Gen Z is a collaborative, team-oriented generation that grew up in a highly customizable world. Don’t be afraid to work directly with them in order to better understand their wants and needs.