Just as many brands are getting to grips with engaging millennials, Generation Z is emerging. Who are they? GZ are people who were born from 1995 onwards (13- 23 year old) – and they are starting to make their presence known as they enter the workforce and begin to earn their own income.

To the likes of me, and probably many other Gen X and Gen Y’ers, GZ appear to be ridiculously young to be trying to market to. However, GZ is on track to become the largest generation of consumers in a few years’ time (32% of the globe population by next year)! They represent billions in buying power, meaning marketers across the globe need to work out (quickly) how to connect with them.

I recently had the pleasure of attending the MCA Marketing Conference, and the day was full of fantastic speakers and interesting information, all of which has been summarised in Susan’s blog here. The final speaker of the day was Chloe Combi, co-founder of ZED, writer, speaker and expert on youth issues. During her session I listened to some hugely informative headlines and stats about GZ.

For example, as digital natives, 94% of GZ go online daily, and 99% of those who do, use some form of social media. In fact, 85% of GZ use YouTube and 74% say they actively post content or comment on it. This is probably unsurprising to those of us that see this generation permanently attached to their phones!

So when it comes to engaging with GZ, we need to recognise how they like to receive information. They are the first generation to wholesale reject traditional media (TV, newspapers, magazines etc) and, with this in mind I have created my top five tips on engaging with GZ:

1. GZ favour social media, web and phones as their communication channels so marketers need to embrace technology and new ways of storytelling – using video content, influencers and social media stories to connect with GZ.
2. With 94% of GZ going online daily, we must learn to communicate with GZ on a more regular basis – providing new and fresh content more rapidly.
3. GZ have their own language and we need to learn how to talk to them on their own level, without being too ‘try hard’. Keep it sauce and don’t be OT (simply writing this has made me feel ancient!)
4. GZ want to understand the purpose of a brand – what does it stand for and why? Focus on how your product or service affects GZ and not the brand itself.
5. Build meaningful relationships with key influencers and micro-influencers to ensure you become part of the conversation and gain brand attention.

As a 41 year old who remembers the sound of the dial-up connection in order to get ‘on the world wide web’, I cherish my smartphone and feel lucky to have access to so much information within a few swipes. But I am a big advocate for turning it off or putting it down each day, to live IRL (in real life) too. By having this level of information at their fingertips since they learned to read, GZ has become hyper-connected and equally dis-connected at the same time.

We have created a superbly informed and risk-averse generation that communicates constantly, absorbs information rapidly and researches thoroughly before making decisions. Yet at the same time we have created a generation that prefers to communicate using technology rather than face to face and requires answers instantly rather than learning through experience. Chloe quoted in her talk that in general, you can take 5 years off a GZ’s age to get their level of maturity; they are undoubtedly different to previous generations through comparatively less life experience. However, many will bring a remarkable ability to multi-task and think on their feet to the ever-growing workforce which can only be a good thing.