What Publishers Need to Know About Gen Z
How should publishers think about Gen Z? It’s an increasingly important question now that Generation Z (those born between 1995 and 2010) are entering the workforce and on their way to amassing purchasing power of $143 billion.
Members of this socially conscious, culturally aware generation are fast adopters of technology. The publishers who will benefit from surging Gen Z usage are the ones who can serve relevant content through easy-to-use apps in the social, beauty, education, entertainment, retail, news, and even finance categories.
Start with a Little History
Here’s a quick level-set. On 9/11, the oldest members of Gen Z were 6 years old. When the Great Recession began, most of Gen Z was in elementary school or junior high. With most of the world now under “safe at home” orders, the oldest members of Gen Z are relative newcomers to the workforce, while the youngest members have seen their spring semester abruptly transition to distance learning. These events are the shared experiences of Gen Z.
The Kids Are Naturally Mobile, but That’s No Big Deal
In 2013, eMarketer estimated that about half of all 12- to 17-year-olds had a smartphone. This year, that figure will jump to 83%. But it’s no longer a question of smartphone adoption. Instead, we need to focus on how Gen Z is integrating technology into daily life. Publishers from across different verticals are scrambling to better serve the sudden surge of Gen Z-ers now that they are home 24/7. I think we all knew that the 2020s would bring services that would make for tougher times for many local and regional streaming services, and smaller players competing against the major players like Netflix and Amazon will have it toughest.
One bonus for those smaller players, however, is that those viewers are eager to find new social outlets through their devices. FaceTime, TikTok, YouTube, and other emerging apps like HouseParty are making video conferencing and sharing slick and cool for the youngest of this generation. The overarching goal of these apps is to engage and retain this new wave of valuable users, which of course, translates into revenue via subscription models, referral models, or simply the standard ad models. Publishers should think of this time as a sneak preview of the future where mobile devices are more seamlessly integrated into our daily lives, as well as consider the revenue opportunities they present.
Influencers are Influential, but They Aren’t Everything
There’s an entire ecosystem of Gen Z influencers reaching Gen Z audiences. Fifty-two percent of Gen Z considers influencers trustworthy when it comes to purchasing recommendations, according to eMarketer. But that number probably overstates the influence of influencers. News websites, Amazon reviews, as well as friends and family, all score higher in terms of influence.
Instead of focusing on the hot new platform or cool new influencer, publishers need to understand what drives Gen Z. As a McKinsey study concluded, the one element that anchors Gen Z behavior is “the quest for truth.” Put simply, it’s not the platform, the device, or the pitch person, it’s a question of authenticity. Brands want to continue to grow partnerships with influencers but need to be careful about whom they choose to partner with as Gen Z carefully curates who they choose to follow.
Brands that know their target audiences will be the most successful in making lasting connections and building consumer trust. As we think about moving into this new post-COVID world, publishers will need to understand the distinctive beliefs and behaviors of Gen Z. The publishers that tailor the right strategies will successfully connect with this substantial demographic.
Monica joined the VRTCAL Publisher team in 2017. After Business Development roles at Smaato and Amobee Monica saw in VRTCAL the unique opportunity to bring her expertise and make an impact on a growing team. As Director of Strategic Partners at VRTCAL Monica’s responsibilities include growing and on-boarding key supply partners. She is passionate about the ever-changing mobile landscape specifically new trends and products.