Generation Z—the cohort born between 1996 and the mid-2000s—have vastly different purchasing and online browsing behaviors from the generations before it. They are the first group to have grown up with access to the internet and portable technology, affecting their work and social habits. Learning to work and market to young people is a challenging prospect for any business owner. If you’re considering expanding your target audience and including Gen Z, here are things to keep in mind.
Who Are Part Of Gen Z?
Gen Z is now 28.7 percent of America’s population—today, Baby Boomers only comprise 21.8 percent, while Millennials form 22 percent. The oldest members of Gen Z are now in their twenties, something that shocks people from previous generations since it is easy to think of this group as children and teenagers. That is far from the truth, though; Gen Z is the fastest-growing consumer group globally, making up 40 percent of the global consumer population and with an annual spending power of approximately $143 billion.
How Do They Interact With Marketing?
Gen Z has a very different relationship with brands than their predecessors. According to a study IBM conducted together with the National Retail Federation, consumers from this group think businesses need to earn brand loyalty. They want the brands they patronize to reflect their values and are willing to hold companies accountable if they fall short.
Besides their resistance to surface-level brand loyalty, they are also more challenging to reach with typical marketing strategies. Studies show that Gen Z consumers have the shortest attention spans and often hone in on what truly matters to them, glazing over advertising—something they had to do from a young age.
Social media is also an effective channel for engaging Gen Z. They prefer consuming video content on YouTube and TikTok, moving away from mainstream media like television. Despite this preference for short multimedia content, they are still receptive to long-form articles and in-depth discussions. They are less likely to browse for these, though, unlike a Millennial or Gen X user. They seek long-form posts out, but they aren’t likely to scroll through their news feed idly, looking for an article to read.
How Do They Use Search Engines?
Search engine marketing is well-positioned to engage with this demographic. Although Gen Z is not responsive to direct advertisements, they always search for information on their own. Using search tools is second nature to this cohort, and they can evaluate SERPs quickly. They can easily identify reliable information sources and reject links to dubious-looking website URLs.
Since they aren’t as brand loyal as previous generations, they are more likely to click on a URL of a lesser-known company if its title tag promises an answer to their concerns. Gen Z consumers are also famous for relying on their mobile devices, and Google has started to pay attention. Things like AMP pages and mobile-first indexing now have more weight in determining the SERP ranking of a webpage. Consequently, user experience matters a bit more as well.
In a survey of 15,600 Gen Z consumers, IBM and NRF found that more than half will not use apps or sites that take too long to load. These realities make mobile site speed more valuable, something that SEOs who want to capture this demographic should note. Also, Gen Z is likelier than other generations to use long-tail queries, multi-word searches, and voice assistants.
Gen Z and the SEO Industry
Like Millennials before them, Gen Z has come of age in an unstable global economy and a competitive job market. Digital skills are in-demand today, and mastery in dynamic fields like search engine optimization is highly desirable.
That said, not a lot of them are working in SEO-intensive careers. There are almost no SEO-specific courses available through traditional channels like university or even online course platforms like Coursera. Some integrated marketing programs have units on SEO, but the information in these classes might be outdated because of search optimization’s fast-paced development. The best way for young people to learn SEO is through research, an internship, or other real-world experiences.
Since this cohort has a demonstrated aptitude for technology-based work, they can pick up expertise in SEO easily. Knowledge in one CMS, like WordPress, is transferrable to others like HubSpot, Drupal, and more. Similarly, if they learn how to understand data in Google Analytics, they will find it easy to use similar platforms.
Gen Z is quickly becoming a dominant cohort in many fields today since the oldest members of this generation are in their 20s. They have different browsing and search habits than Millennials and Gen X, the two generations that came before them, and businesses need to adapt to these preferences if they want to have members of this cohort as consumers. If your business is not considering them, you might fall behind.
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