October 5, 2015

How Gen Z is Changing the Internet

The golden age of the Millennial is over. Well, at least when it comes to online marketing. There’s a new generation of consumers in town, and brands everywhere are racing to figure out the best way to reach them. Gen Z (generally considered anyone born after 1995, currently within the seven- to seventeen-years-old age range) are visually-driven, digital natives who expect far more out of the brands they interact with but remain less-brand loyal than ever.

Even if Gen Z isn’t part of your core demographic now, as huge influencers on household spending, they’re quickly becoming the deciding factor in online communications and web design trends. Like it or not, the internet is Gen Z’s playground, and you need to start paying attention if you want your website to avoid collecting rust.

So what are the main things you need to know about how Gen Z exists online?

Mobile is truly everywhere – When it comes to Gen Z, the term “mobile” as we currently think of it may be a little misleading. While older generations typically only rely on their mobile phones to access the internet when on the go–choosing their desktop, laptop or tablet when at home–Gen Z is all mobile, all the time. Though most companies now understand the importance of having a mobile-friendly site and many have already done the heavy-lifting to create one, with the rise of the new generation (affectionately coined by some as iGen), going mobile is a non-negotiable. Don’t let that fool you into thinking your current mobile site is an adequate stand-in, however. Because Gen Z consumes information differently than Gen Y and Millennials, most current mobile sites will require a significant facelift if they want to connect with the new wave of consumers.

Image is everything – Can’t say you didn’t see this one coming: words are out, images are in. With short attention spans and low tolerance for anything that doesn’t immediately catch the eye, Gen Z is changing “content” as we know it. Bite-size chunks of copy are about all that Gen Z can–or is willing to–handle, instead opting to consume their content through heavy visuals, video and interactive media. If your site looks like an online brochure–few images, lots of copy and stagnant pages–chances are you’re already losing potential customers without even knowing it.

Communication is constant – If you thought keeping up with social media was difficult now, you’re in for a world of pain when Gen Z takes over. Gone are the days when “being connected” simply meant having a Facebook and Twitter account. Building your brand through a cohesive, constantly updated multi-channel social profile is essential to effectively marketing to millennials. Ephemeral media like Snapchat and highly-visual platforms like Instagram and YouTube are taking the place of traditional, copy-heavy communication channels. What’s more, Gen Z is primarily interested in getting their information and brand recommendations from “real people,” rather than celebrities. That means that figuring out how to put everyday consumers at the center of your web presence is going to be key to keeping up with Gen Z’s communication style.

Feeling overwhelmed? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. With the rise of any new generation of consumers comes a new onslaught of concerns about how to keep your brand relevant in the digital age. While Gen Z is undoubtedly already having a huge impact on how the internet evolves, there’s still plenty of time for your website to catch up. Want to know more about how to get started? Get in touch, we’ll walk you through some great options.


Stay Connected

Sign up for our eNewsletter to stay on top of all things strategy, design and WordPress