Talking About Generation Z
These young, savvy consumers love to travel.
Consumers younger than millennials are known as Generation Z (ages range from 11 to 23), and they are becoming an increasingly important audience for brands. These digital natives born in the 1990s or early 2000s have had access to the Internet and instant communication almost all of their lives. Although young, their spending power is impressive: Generation Z contributes $44 billion to the U.S. economy, according to Inside the Mind of the Gen Z Traveler, by Skift, and by 2020 they are expected to take 300 million international trips each year. Today, older members of Generation Z are in their early twenties, some beginning to form vacation habits—making now the time for travel brands to reach out to this up-and-coming group of consumers.
To successfully connect with members of Generation Z, brands need to remember that they’re reaching out to savvy consumers. “Their parents have been hauling them to locations far and wide from infancy,” says Melanie Shreffler, senior insights director at the analytics firm Cassandra Report, which studies emerging trends, generational insights and youth behavior. “This has made Generation Z one of the most globally aware generations in history. Their friendships and connections have them tapped into cultures and locales that are different from their own, so they’re curious to experience these for themselves.” Among teenage members of Generation Z, 55 percent like visiting other countries, and 44 percent have friends in other countries, Shreffler says. Additionally, these digital natives have grown up shopping online, where they can research a product and look for peer reviews. “They are quick to see through any marketing-speak that isn’t backed up by fact,” Shreffler says.
Social media is the primary tool brands can use to reach and engage Generation Z. Educational-content start-up Niche surveyed high school seniors who used its resources in 2014, finding that Instagram had the most engaged users, while Facebook had the most daily users and YouTube the most widespread usage. Forty-five percent of teenagers didn’t use Twitter. There may be more opportunities for brands to reach Generation Z on Snapchat, which had an engagement score of 71 percent, just above Facebook’s score of 70 percent. Shreffler notes that nearly as many members of Generation Z would like to hear from brands via email as on social media, with online ads and text messaging coming in next.
Generation Z is a tapped-in cohort, and brands need to strike the right balance between aspiration and authenticity. “They’ve been helping their parents make travel plans for years,” Shreffler says. “Also, they’re used to seeing the world through friends’ eyes thanks to their global social network, so speaking to them with overly polished messages and imagery will feel off.” Brands that highlight authentic experiences in a genuine way are more likely to build lasting engagement.
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