Friday, January 31, 2014

Before we delve into which generation is the best target for mobile marketers, let’s first define what they are: Millennials and Gen Z .

Millennials. They came after Generation X, born somewhere between the early 1980s to early 2000s. That means many of them were still part of the analog age. Cell phone technology was in its naissance, so the cool kids clipped stylish beepers to their denim overalls while making their calls from payphones.

Gen Z. Born between the mid to late 1990s to present day, these kids don’t know anything but the digital age. “You mean there wasn’t always the internet?” often emanates from the mouth of babes. Instant messaging, text messaging, MP3 players and mobile phones have always been part of their lives.

So, while the Millennials is the market that much of the tech industry is targeting heavily right now, and for obvious reasons such as being a major part of the workforce, more experience, etc., it’s Generation Z that most long-term strategists have in their crosshairs. It is this up and coming demographic – now teens or tweens – who will start to drive the mobile media economy over the next twenty years. Their influence is already being felt, albeit via their parents credit cards.

According to the Pew Research Center, 78% of teens, or “Digital Natives” have a cellphone, half of which are smartphones. Nearly 25% have a tablet, and you’d be hard pressed to find a Gen Z-er who doesn’t use the internet on a regular basis. In a very real sense, teens are predictors of the future of mobile media, and technology more generally, which is why getting a handle on how to conduct a Gen Z marketing campaign is so important.

According to Marketing Magazine, brands need to learn what’s important to this digital generation in order to connect with it. Their research into this demographic shows that online networks and communities give Gen Z a feeling of belonging and connection. Marketing Magazine says 28% of Gen Z-ers enjoy online networks because it makes them feel part of something. Brands that create or enhance these communities have the opportunity to connect – an excellent way to build loyalty and engagement with a brand.

For example, Yahoo omg! doesn’t expect people to just follow them, they interact with their audience, building mutual respect. Playful language, tone of voice and a personable approach nurtures the relationship between news source and reader. Not only does this generation expect feedback and feeling validated, it needs to be instantaneous and available in the palm of their hand through a mobile media device. The challenges this presents to mobile marketing strategists are significant. Gen Z demands a greater reward for engaging with your brand then even the Millennials do. The days of the marketing monologue are gone, as young consumers have grown up with the notion of a two-way dialogue.

The upshot is this: around 22% of Gen Z consumers say they trust posts from brands on social networking sites. That’s nearly 50% more trust than previous generations.

Growing up in an age of pervasive smart phone use means Gen Z are hip to the nuances of mobile marketing. Ignore this fact and you will miss out. Embrace it and you will have a fresh, loyal consumer audience for the next twenty years.