Earlier this year, Encyclopedia Brittanica announced they will no longer print their volume of encyclopedias. At our house, the conversation went something like this:

Kids: Did you ever have to use those books?

Me: Yes.

Kids: Why didn’t you just use Wikipedia?

Me: It wasn’t an option.

Kids: NO WAY! Seriously??

I’m ancient. I know. Webster’s Dictionary was an enormous book that required you to know how to spell. I carried a pocket thesaurus in college. Today, any word processing program has deemed the use of these two resources obsolete. When asked what something is or what a word means, my most common response: “You need to Google that.”

And the generational shift continues.

Who really is the young generation?

The younger generation can really be referencing two different age groups: Gen Y (ages 18-30 or Millenials) and Gen Z (ages 12-17 or Digital Natives). Millenials have different expectations than me – the solid Gen Xer. They have a different sense of entitlement. Gen Z falls somewhere in the middle. They know what they want and are being taught to strive for it. It’s Gen X’s independence mixed with Gen Y desire for personal time and wants.

I see life through a different lens than the emerging Gen Z. Libraries serve a different purpose. For me, libraries were needed for research (anyone remember microfiche?). Not the case today (although I do believe the Dewey Decimal system is still intact….maybe).

Ninety-five percent of this generation uses the internet. They value  immediate information. Multitasking has taken on a new dimension. This audience sifts through information, quickly eliminating (ignoring) the pieces that have no instantaneous purpose to them. Spam has no relevance in their world – a significant waste of time – a lot of noise.

Where can this audience be found?


Pinterest. YouTube. Tumblr. Facebook. Skype. Pew research outlines some interesting findings for the teen market:

  • 37% of Internet users participate in video chats, namely YouTube and Skype
  • 27% of Internet-using teens record and upload video to the Internet.
  • 13% of Internet-using teens stream video live to the internet for other people to watch.

How do you reach them?

Be specific and concise. Blog less and use social media more. Content Marketing Institute suggests using SMS (mobile phone text messages) to encourage spending. Messaging at Gen Z’s fingertips holds more regard than face-to-face conversation. New York Times reported younger audiences are straying away from the “old” use of email and relying more on instant text messaging. Give them the facts, where to click to order or respond and move onto the next thing.

Gen Z are bargain shoppers. They want more for less. And, they want it now. They are the iTunes generation. Download a song they just “shazamed” for $1.29.  No waiting. Period. Instant campaign strategies that influence action include:

  • Free product offers
  • Buy-one-get-one-free coupons
  • Priority customer codes
  • Special announcements
  • VIP access
  • Discount Codes

Keep in mind: they also love to announce their presence. Is it about them? Facebook posts, Pinterest boards and tweets allow them to showcase their interests, hobbies and personality.

How can your brand stand out?

Gen Z is always on the outlook for visual appeal with an emotional bond at their fingertips.

  • Mobile. This generation is our tablet and smart phone audience. Optimized websites with relevant products and good prices will earn their loyalty.
  • Responsive. Custom apps and gaming will win out. Perfect example: Words with Friends. A fast, unique interaction will lure them to your site and create awareness.
  • Viral. Videos generate buzz. The bigger the buzz, the stronger the recognition. Give them the option to stream and share their own video, you have them for at least a few minutes.
  • Personal. Can they relate to you? Can they personalize their experience with you? They want to.

How does your brand connect to this new generation?

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