We live in a world where everything has sped up. But Gen Z are moving at an accelerated pace like no other generation before them, and so are the trends they set and follow. For brands and businesses, they are the largest demographic ever and a consumer powerhouse. If you cannot grab their attention and keep up with them, they may not see you at all.
So, what does that mean for the companies that need to reach them? The main issue is one of preconceptions and misconceptions. We have all been guilty of criticising the “younger generation” but this seems to have reached its zenith with Gen Z. They are derided in many quarters. Accused of having no attention span, mocked for being overly “woke” and making older generations angry when they manage to turn their interests and passions into a thriving commercial concern. How dare they! What’s not to hate?
I’m biassed of course as I’m a Gen Zer myself as is pretty much everyone in the company (average age 23) that I co-founded called Creed Media. We work with global music artists, TV streaming firms and major brands, helping them reach Gen Z via platforms like TikTok. But how do you do this without getting it horribly wrong?
It’s crucial to reassess the clichéd view of Gen Z. The oft quoted statistic for their attention span is six to eight seconds. But that’s missing the point. What’s really happening is they have grown up being able to discern what they do and don’t like, what’s “real” and what’s “fake” at a super-fast pace. Think of their supercharged analytical power as the development of mobile phones over the years from the giant bricks of the 1980s to the sleek Iphone of today. Gen Z can process and decide on information quicker than any generation that has come before them.
What’s actually important is that when they do like something – be it a brand or a song or a product – they engage with it in a way that’s never been seen before. Gen Z are the most discerning generation ever and they can’t be fooled by bad marketing. But if it’s done right, they can offer a really deep and creative engagement.
Another misconception is that it’s all about algorithms. It is quite the opposite. You need real people interacting with the world who can spot trends and know exactly what is going to cut through. Yes, the platform may be technology but the engine behind reaching Gen Z has to be human.
Finally, Gen Z are creators as well as consumers. As a business you need to treat them as such and go to them rather than expecting them to come to you. If a brand can give them their Gen Z consumers the tools, assets and inspiration to create then the holy grail of deep engagement will follow.
So forget about that seven second attention span stat. It’s about learning how to captivate this superfast generation.
Tim Collins is the founder and CEO of Creed Media