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In the last decade or so, many marketers have focused on understanding and reaching millennials. But it might be time to get to know a new generation of customers: the Generation Z.

According to one estimate, more than a quarter of the U.S. population belongs to Gen Z, making this generation already bigger than the millennials or Gen X. While many of these customers are still in their teens, collectively they represent billions of dollars in spending power.

So, what do we know about this generation of customers? Not much. As the three articles below show, some experts have put forward ideas on what makes this generation tick, but more research is needed. Whether through an online community of customers or through social media, marketers need to start engaging this generation to really understand their attitudes and behaviors and to start building a relationship with them.

Here are three traits of Generation Z, according to some recent studies.

  1. They process information at faster speeds, but their attention spans are getting shorter.

Research suggests that their brains have evolved to process more information at faster speeds, and are cognitively more nimble to handle bigger mental challenges. They think spatially and in 4D. Gen Z have always known how to zoom, pinch and swipe. They have grown up with hi-def, surround-sound, 3D and now 4D – 360 degree photography and film is their normal. But as a result of all this their attention spans are getting shorter. Getting and keeping their attention is harder.

So for marketers, Gen Z presents a new challenge and a need, yet again, to evolve their communications strategies in the face of ever-changing digital consumer behaviours. Targeting this emerging audience will require campaigns to become even more multi-channel (with stories told across screens), even more visual (lead by video, photo or images), and even more participatory and shareable (with content co-creation – think selfies – at their heart). In addition messaging will need to be even more bite-size, ephemeral and real-time (responsive to the changing context within which messaging is delivered). Marketers will increasingly need to centre their campaigns at the intersection of social-mobile-local, if they wish to connect and engage this audience. – Julian Smith, The Drum

Tweet this!Research: Gen Z customers can process information faster, but their attention spans are getting shorter. (CLICK TO TWEET)

  1. They are fearless—both online and offline.

Growing up as digital natives, this group has always had access to digital tools which have helped them gain exposure (for good or for bad) online. Platforms and tools like YouTube and Snapchat have enabled both the fame-inclined and the everyday sharer the ability to create their own fully-formed brand or casual presence online.

So, what's the key to this fearless behavior? A fearless attitude. For Gen Z, it's all about going your own way -- starting your own company or creating a new product without having to wait for permission, the right skill set, an academic degree, or even years of work experience. – Maria Elmqvist, iMediaConnection

Tweet this!Customers from Gen Z are fearless both online and offline. (CLICK TO TWEET)

  1. They are self-directed and resourceful.

"Generation Z is mature, self-directed, and resourceful," according to the following infographic by Marketo. They know how to self-educate and find information, and 52% use YouTube or social media for typical research assignments.

Moreover, Generation Z embraces the DIY culture. Some 76% wish their hobbies would turn into full-time jobs, and 72% of high school students want to start their own businesses someday. – Veronica Maria Jarski, MarketingProfs

Tweet this!Gen Z customers are mature, self-directed and resourceful. (CLICK TO TWEET)

The Everything Guide to Gen Z

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