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Patricia O'Loughlin
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Word concubine since 1989.
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Gauging Gen Z’s Attention: Are you Doing it Right?

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Up until now, it’s the millennials (i.e. my generation) who have soaked up the attention of many brands. Marketers have undertaken countless hours of research, scaled traditional methods, embraced the digital age and effectively found appropriate ways to appeal to this sector of the public. But now, a whole new surge of consumers is rolling in like a tidal wave. It’s the generation of selfie-lovers and screen addicts; of fresh memers and photofilter fiends. Just as marketers needed to learn how to build that pillar of trust with millennials, they now need to discover just how to form genuine connections with a generation that has grown up along the same timeline as the digital boom. Sure, they’re still teenagers, but they already harness a buying power of $44 billion, and by 2020, will account for a whopping 40% of all consumers. So, it’s best to start getting Gen Z savvy now.

To prepare yourself, let’s take a look at what differentiates this up-and-coming demographic from previous generations of consumers.

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Their attention span encompasses a meagre eight-second filter

Unlike their millennial predecessors who typically engage with three screens, Gen Zers use five screens: a smartphone, a TV, a laptop, a desktop and a tablet. It should come as no surprise then that they have been taught to swiftly make decisions about where to invest their attention: they have a plethora of options right at their fingertips, and have adapted to this unique process of quickly sifting through and assessing massive blocks of information at once.

Pro tip: Research what’s trending online, and use this to your advantage. Essentially, this is where Gen Zers look to collect the most popular, up-to-date information and entertainment. Create an Instagram post that uses relevant hashtag about current events, or write up a blog post using keywords that relate to a trending news topic.

They place huge emphasis on social media representation

Gen Zers perceive social media as the gateway to validation and acceptance by their peers, and employ this platform to engage in important discussions. In this way, Gen Zers are essentially full-time brand managers. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, SnapChat – they see these channels as ways to curate their different social media personas according to their audiences.

Pro tip: Know your platform. Gen Zers know the distinctive differences between each social media channel, and will likely be more inclined to engage with businesses who ‘play by the rules’. They can instantly detect phonies, and know straight away when a brand is not up-to-date with the latest social media trends. To gauge and maintain their attention, you need to make sure you are leveraging social media efficiently by getting to know the nitty-gritty crevices.

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They thrive on a culture that’s essentially built upon publicising the private

Let’s take a look at the not-so-humble selfie: it’s a snapshot of oneself, usually taken within private settings such as the bedroom, which is then posted online to engage the interest of fellow users. Alternatively, let me ask you to shift your attention to the boom of reality TV shows, and acknowledge how said boom has generated a whole new culture over the past decade. These are just a few examples illustrating Gen Zers’ hunger for glimpses into the private lives of the world around them – peers, idols and yes, even businesses alike. Gen Zers are willing to put themselves out there on display, and they expect the same from those they follow online.

Pro tip: Give your company a face. Throw up some behind-the-scenes photos, and ditch the overly corporate, planned feeling in lieu of something a little more spontaneous, open and honest. If you can, your marketing campaign will soar even further if you enlist a relatable spokesperson or social media influencer to trump your brand. Gen Zers aren’t interested in company megaphones; they want real people.

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By Patricia O'Loughlin


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