Let’s Talk About Generation Z

Other fellow marketers reading this may be familiar with an annual report released by Tubular Labs, a cross-platform analytics and insights company, that details upcoming trends and important considerations when marketing to specific demographics. We’ve all heard the M word — millennial, but I think Generation Z has gotten a bit lost in all that discussion. Who is Generation Z? Why, the next biggest thing! Generation Z consists of current consumers aged 7-17. These consumers have grown up in a completely digital world. While millennials were present for the slow transition over time to social media, the internet, and digital communication, Generation Z has been fully immersed in it from the time they were just toddlers, so it only makes sense to focus our thought process on how to reach this new group of consumers.

The report I’d like to share with everyone is called the Cassandra Report, and focuses on identifying larger macro trends that marketers and advertisers can use to reach Gen Z. Join me as we explore some of the more important of those trends and identify how they may be relevant to us as communication practitioners.

Z’s Are Grownups

And they like to be treated as such. No talking down to these folks — anything you can do to boost their confidence and raise them up are effective techniques. These folks have taken an exceptionally mature stance on life compared with other recent generations. Marketers must recognize that they are smart, intelligent people who are able to make their own decisions. By that same token, Gen Z’s are of the mindset that leisure time should be spent more effectively, in which they focus on personal achievements and goals even when they’re spending time relaxing. We’ve come to identify this phenomenon as “proplay” — in which recreational activities that were once done for fun are now skills-based learning opportunities.

89% of Zs spend part of their free time doing activities they consider productive and creative instead of just hanging out. – Cassandra Report, pg. 57

The Importance of Feedback

Giving and receiving feedback is very important to Gen Z-ers. Because these folks have grown up in a world where they can have anything delivered to them, anytime of the day (whether it be a pizza, or instant feedback in the form of likes and comments on social media), Gen Z-ers are highly open to feedback. They want to be a part of a “Feedback Loop,” in which they can attain a “real time understanding of what they’re doing right and how to be better.” This is actually something I have noticed in my own personal life as well, and it’s fascinating.

I really appreciate honest comments and feedback on social media because it can help you improve on your specialties, and that will always result in a better you. – Isaac, 16, CA

Thinking Mobile-First

Gen Z lives on their mobile devices 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Forget about desktop computers — it’s all about iPhones and tablets! Most Z consumers consider their mobile devices an extension of themselves. All media is consumed on the platform, whether it be on social media or Netflix. Gen Z is fortunate enough to have the power of a home video camera and high-res digital camera in their back pocket at all times, which is also able to be harnessed to share their lives with the rest of the world. In order to continue being relevant, brands must recognize that mobile-first activity will only continue to increase and they must start optimizing all of their digital efforts for consumption on-the-go.

Consider offering content and games that young mobile mavens can access anywhere to enhance their lives, relieve them of boredom, and give them something to socialize around and share.

Certainly some very important and interesting insights above. Did anything surprise you? Why or why not?

As we continue to move forward in this constantly-changing world, it will always be important to understand who this next generation of consumers is and how they prefer to consume media. Remember: to be successful, we all must stay ahead of the curve!

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7 Responses to Let’s Talk About Generation Z

  1. juvenalq says:

    Interesting post! When I think of Generation Z, technology comes to mind. As you discuss in your blog post, millennials are digital. They were born in the era of MySpace and iPods, but Generation Z are true digital natives. They are the first generation to be raised in the era of smartphones, emoji, and six-second Vine videos. That point should not be lost on marketers because if they want to appeal to this new generation of consumers, they need to communicate in fewer words and a big picture.

    I would be curious to hear your thoughts about Gen Z and privacy. I haven’t studied youth trends, but I would argue that Gen Z-ers view their online personas very differently from millennials. Whereas millennials pioneered “beer-bong selfies” on Facebook, Generation Z has embraced anonymous social media platforms, including Secret, Snapchat, and Whispher, where images disappear instantly.

  2. Damali says:


    I am very intrigued by Gen Z-er’s. It is interesting that you say they see the positive side of social media platforms. This is also the group that is bullied and prayed upon through various social media platforms. In regards to marketing, consumers in the Gen Z demo is the target audience for gamers. It is a parent’s relief and calming point knowing that their child will not be disruptive with the use of a tablet and/or some sort of smart device. It is a pus if the game is educational. I am totally interested how parents of the Gen Z group provide the accessibility of smart devices even though the pros and cons.

    I kind of have a chuckle to hear the term Gen Z but not surprise with the market audience as Gen X. Parents are finding innovative sophisticated software accessible through tablets allowing their kids to play and experience the latest in video gaming.

    Great post. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Elizabeth says:

    Hi Colin!

    I liked learning about Gen-Z! This is an extremely relevant topic in the marketing world because we need to know about who the audience is. If there’s a product aiming to attract Gen-Z audiences, a traditional billboard probably isn’t the best marketing mechanism for that product. So maybe, some ad space on social media, or on Snapchat.

    Like you said, it’s important to stay ahead of the curve and be knowledgeable about each audience so we, as marketers, can give relevant content to the right audience.

  4. Joy says:

    I’ve just started really reading about Generation Z. I find it interesting that this cohort is being cast as the “anti” Millennial. Instead of being characterized as lazy and entitled like Gen Y, Gen Z is being seen as “industrious” and “collaborative” (Kingston, 2014). Although, to be honest, I feel like it’s a bit early to start putting lasting traits against this generation…right now, they are all 18 and under. I’m not convinced that they fully developed into what they are going to be.

    Now, that said, I do believe this up and coming generation have been percolating in an entirely different world than Millennials grew up in. While millennials are considered digital natives- they grew up as the technology was also developing. Generation Z, on the other hand, have only ever experienced full – up techie benefits. They truly have been connected since birth, and have experienced all of the major social media platforms as they’ve grown as well. I’m sure this has an effect on the generation– and I’m interested in reading and seeing more research as this cohort grows and matures.

    Kingston, A. (2014). Get ready for generation Z. Retrieved from: http://www.macleans.ca/society/life/get-ready-for-generation-z/

  5. Jessica says:

    Thank you so much for sharing Colin! I’ve been wondering about Gen Z for some time now. Millennials no doubt hold substantial purchasing power now, but you’re right, it is so important to stay ahead of the curve. These individuals are coming of age and it’s important to understand where they are coming from. It blows my mind that most of them can’t remember a time without being connected! Your point about spending their time engaging in leisurely activities while simultaneously learning says a lot about how we should be engaging them.


  6. Jane Yi says:

    Thanks for this post, Colin!

    I have to agree that we all should definitely keep more than an eye out for Gen Z! Especially with a majority of us most likely going into the marketing space one day, this will be the generation that we are going to have to tailor our strategies around. I am definitely hoping that with all of the resources available to us today, that gap felt between millennials and the baby boomers will not be the same gap we will be facing with gen Z! I also feel that gen z will also have a lot to learn from us millennials as well, but most important of all is that we must continue learning at any point and stage of our lives!

  7. Steffanie Liang says:


    Thank you for sharing with us. I really like this post. I think generation Z is very important. Millenials are getting older and generation Z is becoming the next major young consumers with purchasing power. I really think they are an important target audiences for many companies, and they should address them as equal as other market segments.