Gen Z and the Indie Publishing Model

Practically born with their parents’ phones in their hands, the young adult consumer is a conundrum to a lot of marketers.

Born between 1995 and 20112, they represent close to 40% of all U.S. consumers, and number close to 73 million strong. Nope, they aren’t Millenials, they are Generation Z, sometimes called Millenials 2.0. And for brands that are willing and able to speak their language, the rewards will be huge.

The key, of course, is to understand how they operate and adapt brand marketing strategies accordingly. They place a high value on trust, and many are painfully aware of the dark side of social media. In many ways, they seem almost immune to advertising … although that’s not really the case at all.

“In a world where just about anyone can be a ‘publisher’ and post fake news, audiences are starting to question the validity of their sources and Gen Z seems to trust print publications over other media to deliver credible information,” writes Chaymae Samir in Reuters Community. “That’s what MNI Targeted Media Inc. discovered when it commissioned a study to gain insight into this generation, surveying students at major universities about their media consumption. Some 83% turn to newspapers for trusted information and content, and 34% turn to magazines.”

Image source: Reuters Community

The study confirmed some key points about this increasingly important demographic:

  • They prefer print books over the digital wasteland
  • They also prefer printed learning materials over onscreen sources
  • And they place more value on print media, including newspapers and magazines, than digital media.

The reason, according to Samir, comes down to an acute awareness of how each channel creates and publishes “news.”

“Young consumers are very aware that magazine publishing doesn’t follow the same rules as social media and blogging, where speed trumps fact-checking, editing, and refining,” Samir writes. “All the necessary processes before something makes it into print.”

For mainstream media and big brands, they would do well to take a lesson from the indie magazine model. They’ve figured out how to capture a passionate fan base, extending awareness on social media and building true engagement in print magazines that put quality over speed and aren’t afraid to charge accordingly.

“The titles are often led by young editors falling into the 20-30 age range and frustrated with the industry overlooking important topics they’re passionate about,” she writes. “Staff tend to be tiny (often one or two people), as do circulations (150 to 15,000). But what these titles lack in size, they make up for in content and reach.”

If you’re trying to reach Gen Z, look to print. A print ad placed in a strategically aligned publication might give you more direct engagement with your market than any number of random social ads.