Karen Rampacher and Kathy Sheehan from the market and user experience research firm GfK spoke about the changing culture of one of the newest most powerful buying groups. This group is teens and young adults ages 15-24 and they’re calling them Generation NOW. GfK studies the trends of buyers of all ages but they’ve been doing it so long that they can compare different age groups from different eras and track the differences. Here is what they’re saying about your older teens.
Who is GenNow?
GenNow is a major market for businesses and advertisers with $830 billion spent by them or on them. They are digital from birth (digital natives) and don’t have to spend much time getting to know devices and screens. Interestingly they don’t define themselves by their ability to use tech but feel as if it’s something everyone can do now, no big deal. In fact, they don’t really worry too much about how they define themselves at all. The research has shown that they aren’t concerned as much about “standing out” as they are being true to their own identity. Identity brings up a whole new set of issues for marketers, who consider the self-identification of the Now Generation to be a puzzle that they have to solve. This age group’s interest in social justice and equality surpasses any generation before them and they are content to just let people be who they have decided they want to be. They are also less likely to reach the traditional “adulthood milestones” as early as their predecessors. Things, like getting married, having children, moving away from home, and starting a lifelong career, aren’t less important but have been placed on the backburner for most of this group.
GenNow and Advertising
The question of for the meeting I attended was: “How do you market to a group like Generation Now?” The answers may surprise you. First of all the data suggests that, while this younger generation is most likely to adopt new tech, they’re more concerned about their privacy and security than generations before them. They know what data is being collected, who is collecting it, and what it’s being used for. Sometimes they’re ok with it and sometimes they aren’t. A recent mistake by Netflix on Twitter shows that this generation isn’t going to ignore an inappropriate use of their data. This generation understands artificial intelligence to some degree and they aren’t afraid of it. They are, however, smart enough to disapprove of a misuse of their own info and invasion of their privacy.
More interesting data suggested that some in this group may never enter a retail store. They purchase things online and trust user/peer reviews to help them determine what they’d like to buy. They value convenience and there’s nothing less convenient than having to go to a store to buy a pair of pants.
As far as how they consume media, things are changing but not in the ways many have expected. Yes, more kids are viewing streaming media but they haven’t necessarily lost interest in the traditional TV. 85% of Gen Now polled admitted that watching TV makes them happy. They usually define TV, however, as anything you watch on a television. Many even label watching content on any device as TV. Streaming, DVD/BluRay movies, and gaming all fall into the “TV” category for most of the Gen Nowers polled by GfK.
The amount of content watched was no surprise with an average of 29 hours per week being consumed. More than three-quarters of those polled admitted to binge-watching their favorite shows. (Binge watching is defined as watching three or more episodes of a show in one sitting.) Most of them are watching content on “ad-free environments.” Netflix, Hulu, Youtube Red, and other paid streaming services keep them from having to watch commercials.
Media companies have answered with short “six-second” adverts that even run alongside live events like sports games and concerts. Product integration or product placement has also become a very important thing for advertisers. Think, Eggo waffles in Stranger Things. Finally, marketers are having to be more careful about how they use the data they collect from this generation’s online and social media activity. They have to prove that they’re not being “creepy” and that the information is being used to bring value and not inconvenience.
What Parents Should Know
Obviously, all of the information in this post falls into the category of things parents should know. To summarize, Generation Now is bringing some interesting challenges for marketers and corporations as well as for parents. Moms and dads should take heed of some of the trends this research has found. Use this information to help you build your strategy for internet safety, security, and health.
As for advertising you’ve probably already noticed short social media videos and posts being used to promote various products. You’ll also see social media influencers being used more and more by companies to review and sponsor their offerings. Your child’s favorite YouTuber or Instagram influencer will be trying out products on their channels and accounts in no time.
The advertising world is always working as hard as they can to reach our kids with their message. It is important for us as parents to understand the message we want to convey to our kids and retrofit the message that the media is telling them to fit our standards. That’s why this blog is here, to teach you how to do exactly that.