Over the past 10 years, Millennials have taken the world of consumerism by storm. The impact of this generation on the media has completely reshaped the way content producers and marketers approach customer interaction.
However, the media moves fast. Everyone has already jumped on this Generation Y trend. That means that if you are just now trying to catch the Millennial bus, you’ve probably missed it.
Luckily, all is not lost: the next generation of consumers is already starting to emerge.
Dubbed Generation Z, this new consumer group, who were born from the mid-1990s through the 2010s, will be a force to reckon with for years to come.
Here are some tastes and preferences unique to Gen Z that will impact the way media is both created and consumed.
The rapid adoption by consumers of technologies that were once only available to professionals has made information much more accessible to the general public. And with this change comes a new expectation of near-instant news delivery.
Combine this with a decreasing attention span, and it’s clear that Gen Z will continue to hanker for immediate access to information.
You can say good-bye to the days of postdated breaking news, and say hello to real-time knowledge.
Facebook Live and Trending on Twitter are two examples of how this phenomenon is already taking place. Generation Z is gravitating toward those media platforms, rather than a place like Instagram, for addictive sources of information.
As technology becomes ubiquitous across demographics, we will see a rise in this “on-demand” information.
In addition to thirsting for real-time knowledge, Generation Z wants information to be conveyed concisely.
This leads to a dilemma for the media: should they create revenue-generating clickbait or invest in high-quality curation?
We’ve seen many media outlets choose the former option, and build extensive channels for distributing short, “empty” content.
The quality is not high, but these firms are successful because they are resonate well with Gen Z’s need for quick consumption.
However, the main problem with this approach is that consumers have no loyalty. There is no incentive for them to stay.
The long-term plan, on the other hand, is perhaps more of an investment. Firms trying to create high-quality content want to build a community that will invest their time (and money) in that material.
The challenge is staying afloat in the meantime. Many firms have resorted to loading the page with advertisements (only to be stymied by ad blockers) or charging up-front fees. For now, consumers seem to complain about both.
So how can the media create content that is at the same time concise and meaningful?
In the long run, we will see the companies that lack loyal customers continue to bounce between relevance and irrelevance.
On the other side of the spectrum, we’ll see succinct quality content prevail, as long as the providers can survive.
Generation Z not consumes media and content; it also produces them. With new implementations of technology that make it easier for users to create and stream, we will continue to see more user-generated media.
This trend will only increase as professional-grade technology becomes less expensive over time and allows more consumers to develop their own media.
Generation Z loves to voice their opinions, and we will see apps and platforms cater to this taste.
What was once limited to text in the form of blogs is now turning into dynamic content, like video and live streams. An example is the aforementioned Facebook Live, which allows anyone to live stream content from anywhere.
This kind of service would not work for previous generations, which did not care for sharing everything with everyone. However, it is ideal for Gen Z, which is all for involving others in the viewing of their lives.
Ease of consuming and producing content is continuing to improve, but which channels will be most effective for reaching Gen Z? The answer depends on two key preferences: mobility and density.
Mobile is the future. So far, we have already seen a huge push on the part of media producers from the big screen to the laptop screen, and now on to the smartphone.
We will continue to see this shift, especially for Gen Z consumers. Why? It goes back to the earlier point: these consumers want things quickly.
Furthermore, Gen Z consumers want things quickly wherever they are. If you cannot deliver content to mobile, you might as well cross Gen Z off of your consumer base.
The other important characteristic is the density of the channel. There are and will continue to be many different media platforms for reaching the Gen Z audience.
Where are all the kids hanging out? You’ll find they often hang out online in groups, and are deeply affected by the opinions of their peers.
Influencers play a huge role in the lives of this new group. More than any other generation, Gen Zers have grown up with celebrities and personalities as a part of their lives.
They’ve established a deep connection with superstars they’ve seen on TV through Twitter, Snapchats or on their Instagram feeds.
This is important, because it means that these influencers also have swaying power when it comes to consumer behavior.
Influencers will continue to gain power and establish deeper relationships with their respective audiences.
Gen Z consumers want to see the real lives of these superstars. We will see this bond get closer as technology improves and reveals more of the “influencer lifestyle.”