November 20, 2022
Generation Z—also referred to as Zoomers or Gen Zers—is already making waves as they come of age and increase their buying power, their influence, and their impact on organizations.
Born between 1996 and 2010, the Gen Z age group comprises approximately 26% of the global population, or about two billion individuals worldwide.
This generation is extremely value-conscious and savvy at finding the information they’re interested in with a documented history of making personal, professional, and financial decisions based on online engagement.
They are already the most prominent generation in schools in terms of the student population, but are gradually becoming parents in your school community. Your school must consider how to market to them effectively. Here are some things to consider.
The Gen Z Difference
Gen Z has never known a world without the internet—they are the first digitally native cohort. (The internet became a public domain in 1993, four years before Generation Z began using it in 1997.) Most members of Gen Z don't remember what life was like before 9/11 or even before cell phones.
Because they’ve grown up using smartphones, navigating the internet, and consuming social media, this generational cohort is highly involved and aware. They support brands with clearly established values, inclusive marketing and communication, and strong online communities.
Gen Zers spend hours online every day, often researching brands—relying on reviews, social media, and websites. Statistics show that 71% of Gen Zers spend three or more hours per day consuming visual content, forcing organizations in every industry to share their messages in short bursts of information.
Gen Z individuals are not watching cable television; they’re more likely to use a streaming service. This generation may be even more inclined to turn to YouTube for entertainment instead of streaming or traditional TV altogether. In fact, research reveals YouTube is the most popular platform overall with 88% of respondents using it since 2020—increasing to 93% in Gen Z adults (aged 18–29).
Many of the first Gen Zers to enter the corporate workforce did so during the pandemic and have greatly influenced how organizations are recruiting new talent. They think creatively and flexibly about structure and are accustomed to getting their questions resolved quickly on and offline.
A report from OCAD University revealed that 73% of Gen Zers believe they need more self-expression to live a happy, healthy life. Before social media, a person expressed themselves by how they dressed, how they wore their hair, where they worked, the car they drove, and the music they listened to, among other things.
Gen Z spends a lot of their time on social media and in online games and metaverses. This is where they meet friends, express themselves, and create their unique identity. It’s also where they receive social validation (i.e., likes, comments, followers) for the things they do both in real life (IRL) and online.
Among other characteristics, Generation Z individuals are:
- digitally sophisticated
- concerned about the environment
- ethical shoppers
- racially, sexually, and religiously diverse
- financially astute
- social media activists
- politically progressive
- supportive of women’s rights, LGBTQ+ rights, and the BLM movement
But what does all this mean for your school? Here’s how you can connect with this tech-savvy generation.
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Connecting With Gen Z
Be sure your school’s mission and values are clearly and publicly stated.
Gen Z is more likely to invest their time, connection, and finances in organizations that align with their personal values. And these goals may include creativity, inclusivity, diversity, and social responsibility.
Be transparent when sharing your school values because the best way to attract the right families is by creating a school they can see themselves in—they will be attracted to a school that mirrors their beliefs.
Focus on the human element.
Zoomers are wary of buzzwords; they value human-focused planning and communication. They look for real, honest engagement from organizations—and can’t be fooled by fancy marketing strategies that are not supported by substance and action.
And they’re also weary of stock photo spreads and professional actors who are used as spokespersons. Integrate your actual community into your marketing to make your storytelling more authentic.
Communicate a clear message.
Their attention span is depleting—the average is about eight seconds. In view of this, it's important for you to share information in a clear, direct way. This generation does not want to be lectured, but instead they want to quickly consume and digest details that matter.
For example, consider releasing annual statistics in animated infographics instead of publishing as a PDF with pie charts. Additionally, be sure your website showcases your plans for the future.
Share your beliefs.
Gen Zers insist that organizations accept accountability for their actions, especially in correcting mistakes. They value honesty in addressing missteps and transparently sharing a plan for fixing an oversight or issue … which means there needs to be follow-through as they will check in.
Marketing to Gen Z is going to shift how you sell your school and tell your story. It’s important to remember that Zoomers care deeply about the improvement of society. More than any other previous generation, they demand that all messages be delivered with honesty and clarity neatly streamed to their mobile devices.