As we embark on a new year, it may have crossed your mind that 2018 signifies those born at the turn of the millennium becoming fully-fledged adults. If this had evaded you…we can only apologise for any existential dread caused.

Alas, it is true. Those millennium babies are all grown up and belong to Generation Z. Roughly defined as those born between 1996 and 2011, the eldest of this bracket are now around 22 years old. This demographic cohort succeed the millennials – a buzz word which we can all agree should buzz right off – but are a generation all of their own (so you can hold fire on those ‘entitled, avocado-snacking snowflake’ rants, for or against).

The older portion of this group are now leaving education, stepping onto the career ladder, and earning (and spending) their own income.

What’s interesting about them is that unlike their predecessors, Gen Z have never known a world without the internet. If you spoke with the younger-to-middle segment of the group, (aged 7 and up) and explained the concept of dial-up, you’d likely be met with bemused faces. We won’t harp on, we’ve all seen the videos of pre-teens trying to plug earphones into a cassette. The point is, time and technology inevitably move on.

This tech-savvy bunch now make up 25 per cent of the world’s population and, being true digital natives, they are likely to further change the way we will market to consumers and shake up purchasing habits as a whole. So as with each previous generation, brands must learn their key traits and how best to engage with this audience.

Quick and mobile: Gen Z are ‘always on’, and are consuming content at a rapid rate – around 68 videos a day. On average they are using five screens a day, and 84 per cent say they use an internet-connected device whilst watching TV. 71 per cent of their entertainment is being streamed, and one third is accessed from a mobile device.

This audience wants to speedily sift through content and are used to a flawless mobile experience. Any outfit creating material not optimised for mobile may outcast this demographic.

Multiple platforms: Brands who focus their social efforts purely on Facebook could run into trouble, as younger users are spending more and more time on YouTube and Instagram, but also Snapchat – with 79 per cent saying they use the app every day, and 51 per cent snapping 11 times daily.

Interacting on multiple platforms with platform-specific content will help to catch the attention of this crowd.

Flighty but open-minded: Capturing and keeping the attention of a Gen Zer is no easy feat. Great service and a quality product is important to any consumer – but these guys don’t seem to have an affinity with brands and companies. 72 per cent say they would switch to a new brand for a similar but cheaper product, whilst 79 per cent say that quality is more important than a brand name.

But the most important thing? This new crop of consumers values open-mindedness. They want to see acceptance within society of their values, which largely focus on equality in race, gender and sexuality. They also want to feel like they are ‘doing good’ or ‘making a difference’ in the world, so demonstrating ethical values and empathy is possibly the best way to build trust with this demographic.

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