Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Forget Millennials, Gen Z needs a new type of engagement

By Jay Richards, Founder,  DivInc

Millennials may soon be outnumbered by their successors: Generation Z.

According to new analysis by Bloomberg of United Nations data, Gen Z will account for 32% of the global population in 2019.

In the report Rise of the Gen Z: New Challenge for Retailers by Marcie Merriman, Merriman writes that “the younger people placed a greater emphasis on their role in the world as part of a larger ecosystem and their responsibility to help improve it,” while millennials – “the older ones” – are more preoccupied by selfish desires.

This poses an interesting challenge, as Gen Z are soon to be entering the workplace it’s time to get ahead of the game to see how brands can engage them in a truly authentic way.

Here are 3 things to know about engaging and marketing to Gen Z:

  1. They are mobile first

Gen Z consume the majority of their media on their phones, 15.4 hours per week to be exact, which is up 1.5 hours from millenials. 70% watch two hours of YouTube a day.

They engage more with “normal everyday” influencers rather than with celebrities. They use multiple social media platforms daily, making them harder to track down and reach than older generations. They want to be engaged in an authentic, relatable way via social media over a long period of time, but once engaged, they’re loyal.

Engaging Gen Z at a younger age (13 to 24 years old) on social media to begin that relationship and to build trust is crucial to introducing them to your brand. Meet them where they are, on social media.  

       2. They are digital natives

They are the “always on” generation, they have grown up with regular software updates and have friends online from around the world they will never meet.

Gen Z arguably feel at home online more than they do in real life. They’re connected to technology 10+ hours a day and are tech experts. They favour captive storytelling, visual displays and engaging content will win their attention for on average 8 seconds.

This digital generation want to be wowed and impressed by your brand. Simply turning up to their school with sweets and posters won’t cut it. They want to follow you, to be engaged online and offline in an exciting and engaging way.

Use the most current technology to engage them and they’ll love you for it.

With this being said, 98% of Gen Z prefer purchasing in a brick and mortar store than online, this counterintuitive fact means that a brand’s in store experience is equally as important as their online one. They may be digital natives but Gen Z love a unique experience when visiting their favourite brands physical location.

3. They want to co-create

This “post-internet generation” doesn’t simply consume entertainment–they help create and shape it. A study revealed that 80% of Gen Z say finding themselves creatively is important. Over 25% post original video on a weekly basis, while 65% enjoy creating and sharing content on social media.

Gen Z have grown up around created content and they truly believe it is their right to create and release something into the world, never before has this been so easily possible.

For the truest and most authentic form of engagement, involve Gen Z in all you do. Whether it’s creating content online with them, to be consumed by their peers, or by creating an offline experience with them that is engaging and creatively appealing. Gen Z want to be involved. They’re not passive, they want to be fully engaged in your brand activities.

This generation is also extremely vocal about their beliefs and they’re truly activists for whatever cause they may believe in. Ensuring you’re authentically co-creating and engaging with them about their causes is part of them believing in you as a brand.


There is a huge need to engage with and understand Gen Z –an increasingly important group of customers who will help to shape the future.

As Gen Zs enter the workforce and their purchasing power increases, brands can’t afford to act within conventional assumptions or generational frameworks.

A deeper understanding of Gen Z–one that is rooted in continuous, two-way dialogue–is required to deliver products, branding, marketing and experiences that this elusive and evolving generation is looking for.