The Inner Workings of Gen Z

May 09, 2018


Article ImageIf you’re a marketer, you’ve probably been fretting about the mysterious Gen Z. They’re digitally savvy and immune to your attempts to advertise to them. They’re less interested in what your brand can do for them than they are in what your brand is willing to do to make the world a better place. And according to new research from MNI Targeted Media, Gen Z will account for 40% of all consumers by 2020.

So now what?

Well, as with any other consumer segment, the best way to reach Gen Z is to understand it, and then deliver products and content that resonates. 

Gen Z – Just How Socially Conscious Are They?

MNI’s research shows that over 50% state that knowing a brand is socially conscious influences purchase decisions. But what does that really mean? According to Vicki Brakl, VP Marketing of MNI Targeted Media Inc., “This points to brands like TOMs and Warby Parker. With each purchase, they give back or donate a pair of shoes or glasses. Taking this type of action is meaningful in marketing to Gen Z.”

That’s all well and good, but anyone who is really paying attention will know that the TOM’s business model has run into more that its fair share of criticism for not being efficient and solving the wrong problem (or, maybe, one that didn’t exist). So, if you’re brand, its still unclear as to just how deep Gen Z is diving into your business practices, and whether their interest in do-gooders companies is more than skin-deep.

And another question remains: How does this bear out across the political divide? We tend to think about young people as monolithically liberal, but that can’t be true. Sure, conservative Gen Z probably loves the free-market solution to social ills that companies like Warby Parker represent. But what about a brand like Patagonia, which, like many outdoor brands has long had a commitment to sustainability and eco-friendly products, but has also come out hard against the Trump Administration—especially when it comes to the department of interior rolling back protection for public lands? One has to wonder if more conservative members of Gen Z are turned off by brands whose activism doesn’t quite align with their own political beliefs. And if you’re a big brand, reaching out across generations, it’s hard to figure out where to draw the line.

Gen Z is Well-Informed

MNI’s research reveals some good news for media outlets who have often been told their particular brand of journalism is dying. Research says, 83% turn to newspapers for trusted information and content, and 34% percent turn to magazines.But don’t run out and invest in print products just yet.

Brakl says, “Gen Z views newspapers as 360° brands, meaning they do not necessarily discern between the print and digital formats, but rely on newspapers to give them trusted news they can use across formats.” But she also adds, “Magazines are largely viewed as a print platform. Publishers have the opportunity to grow magazine brands more holistically into 360° brands.”

Where to Find Gen Z

None of this means this isn’t a deeply digital generation. Here’s how their media use breaks down, according to MNI: 

  • Streaming audio (4.8 hours/week)
  • Social media (4.6 hours/week)
  • Streaming video (4.2 hours/week)
  • Websites (4.2 hours/week)
  • Magazines (1 hour/week)

If you’re looking to reach this elusive audience, these platforms are where you need to be. But we also know that their attention is divided. If you want Gen Z’s undivided attention, here’s where you can find them without interruptions: 

  • Streaming video (55%)
  • Newspapers (44%)
  • Digital video (42%)
  • Magazines (34%)


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