As the up and coming generation of consumers, Gen Z-ers are entering adulthood and the marketplace in ever-increasing numbers and commanding far more purchasing power. Because Gen Z is rapidly becoming the base businesses must cater to, marketers have begun adjusting to the particular behavior traits of this upcoming generation of consumers, similar to have they have had to adapt to previous generations.
To do so, the marketing sector has had to look into and trend important purchasing patterns, characteristics, and behaviors specific to this consumer generation. Based on their observation and research, marketers are finding areas in which they need to make adjustments to their former strategies in their Gen Z marketing campaigns.
What Makes Gen Z Unique?
Like any generation, Gen Z has certain characteristics that make them unique in terms of they behave with their purchasing decisions. For instance, they are more practical with their purchases and are less concerned with evaluating their customer experience. Because of their wider exposure to means of reviews and information, Gen Z is comprised of consumers who are far better informed about new products on the market. This means that they are more focused on the quality of the product for the best deal they can purchase it for, rather than loyally sticking to a particular brand name.
By comparison with their preceding generation (millennials), Gen Z is much more frugal and is more interested in having personal conversations, than simply relying on online interactions in the social media realm when it comes to making purchasing decisions. Having said that, Gen Z is very active on social media and that does influence their consumption of information, and therefore their decision making, significantly. Aside from the social media presence, they also spend more time online than millennials do, allowing for more time to devote to thoroughly researching products.
In these terms, the methods by how Gen Z acquires information are quite different than other generations. Their methods of discovery of content through blogs, product listings, and websites are significant, and they have a particular affinity for video content.
This post aims to identify the methods by which Gen Z searches for interesting information online and how the differences from the methods leveraged by previous generations shape how businesses should develop their generation Z marketing to get that information to Gen Z consumers.
How Generation Z Searches Online
Long-Tail Keyword Searches
Gen Z performs search engine querying differently than older generations who sought out their searches with single keywords, such as “statistics.” Gen Z searchers, on the other hand, seek out answers by typing full phrases or questions like “Where do I find relevant statistics to my industry?” These types of keywords are referred to as "long-tail" keywords.
Millennials average about four words per every performed search, while Gen Z edges them out with an average of five (or more). Unlike most prior generations, Gen Z leverage simplification capabilities of voice-based searches, asking questions or searching for keywords vocally in the form of full phrases or commands. The search engines’ AI then picks up on those commands to refine and filter their search. Prior generations, conversely, are far more likely to utilize text-based searches even when voice-based options are available through their smart devices.
Commonly Used Keywords
Research, including findings from a study by Fractl, has also found that Gen Z, far more than Gen X or Baby Boomers are likely to preface their searches with the term “best.” During studies it was found that 56% of the searches used this term, as opposed to 30 to 32% by older generations, illustrating the desire of Gen Z searchers to rely more on reviews and cumulative opinions of others to point the way to what is regarded as the “best” location or product they are searching for.
Research has also found a strong correlation between Gen Z search queries and the terms ‘how to’ and ‘cheap.’ This leads the researchers to conclude that Gen Z is a far more frugal generation, making sure that if they are going to search for a service, they will get the best bang for their buck, and if they can find how to DIY something they seek, they would prefer that information, learning a trick, method, or skill to avoid having to spend money on a particular service in the future. This also shows the trust of Gen Z in web-based how-to resources, unlike older generations who largely relied on classes, books, or others to learn how to particular tasks.
The fact that Gen Z-ers are attached to their mobile devices is quite possibly the world’s most obvious observation, but before jumping to conclusions about them burning through brain cells with mindless entertainment, it's important to note that they actually perform most of their searches, and consume most of their information through mobile devices.
Millennials are not far away in the mobile device usage regard, but as Gen Z is the marketing base of the upcoming decades, marketers need to take their reliance on mobile devices and the regular use very seriously. This is especially pertinent since Gen Z spends more time utilizing various apps which are ad-supported. This presents marketers with another venue by which to reach the Gen Z audience.
With the heavy usage of mobile devices in mind, search engines have also recalibrated their algorithms to prioritize those sites in search engine results that are responsive to mobile access and optimized for use with mobile devices. As these are more appropriate content for those visitors who are using smartphones and tablets, the websites are given preferential ranking treatment. Google has been using this strategy for some time, incorporating the Google Discovery feature in its app to parse through the user’s history of search queries to compile more relevant results of text, image, and video content that these users might be interested in.
Video Content’s Domination
Gen Z searches video content more aggressively than other generations. Research has found that video is a more effective method of advertising to Gen Z than through other types of content formats.
Though Millenials and Gen X generations consume a fair amount of video content as well, it is not to the voracious video consumption levels of Gen Z’s. In fact, a study by Think found that 85% of Gen Z users find the content they are looking for through YouTube, with 80% claim to have learned new information through video observation.
Social Media Reliability
To piggyback on an earlier point about Gen Z’s reliability on social media, marketers need to focus on more than just optimizing their search engine positioning to reach the maximum number of audiences from this generation. Gen Z frequent platforms like Snapchat, TikTok, and Instagram more than any other, making this another optimal place for businesses to leverage as a means for advertising.
This is an especially important point to keep in mind when it comes to distributing brand information. Gen Z relies on social media searches for finding out about new products on platforms like Instagram about 45% of the time. Beyond just finding new products, social media is a fantastic tool for guiding a Gen Z consumer through their customer journey.
Through social media platforms, Gen Z users can view various video content (their favorite, as we have already established), demonstration videos, how to use videos, unboxings, and reviews.
A business that does not utilize social media for product or service promotion in their marketing campaigns for generation Z at this point is truly failing to secure current and, more importantly, future business, from Gen Z and the generations that follow. As Gen Z spends some portion of their time frequenting their favorite channels through their favorite platforms, promoting through this medium allows companies to put their business in front of many more eyeballs of their desired target audiences.
Reach Gen Z Where They Are
Overall, the holy grail of reaching Gen Z for marketers is to take advantage of video and specifically, video-based social media platforms like Instagram Stories, Snapchat, TikTok, and Reddit in their marketing to gen Z. This will help in developing a more competitive strategy, but it is still very important to focus on content marketing and SEO to reach audiences through traditional search engine searches.
The goal is for Gen-Z to be exposed to your products and services. While Google might be the dominant search engine, there are many other choices that Gen Z can implement. As noted, mobile-optimized sites rank higher in search results, as do specifically indicated relevant searches on video platforms. The key to winning the business of any audience is to play the law of numbers: the more people see your offerings the more customers you will have. The key is making sure the right people see your products in the places they are most likely to encounter them.