Generation Z Swings the Pendulum Back to Reality

They are quickly approaching 40% mark of all U.S. consumers and will number close to 73 million strong in a year or so. 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.

What language is that? It starts with trust. To tap into this market effectively, brands must be willing to shift their thinking about branding and marketing. They must hold themselves to the same high standards that Gen Z insists on. Articulate a clear point of view that remains consistent across circumstances and platforms; define your unique and authentic brand voice; be willing to take a stand when it comes to the complex and often controversial issues we face today.

Brands must also understand another thing about Gen Z – they have a preference for print when consuming information that matters to them.

“From Reuters Community comes refreshing news for those who still prefer the printed page to the digital screen,” writes Robin Beres in the Richmond-Times Dispatch. It seems that Generation Z (the demographic group born after 1997) — fed up with fake news and questionable electronic media sources — is turning to good, old reliable print media for trustworthy and reliable information, according to several studies.

In the print industry, we see this happening in real-time. Perhaps the savviest generation in grasping the downside of social media, Generation Z has created a marketing blowback and are helping foster a revitalizing in both the catalog industry and the indie magazine market.

“It seems that in the past several years, small, trendy printed magazines have made a comeback among younger consumers,” Beres writes. “Media companies have realized that tasteful, printed advertisements in smaller periodicals have more appeal to Gen Zers than the pervasive ads that constantly pop up online.”

Beres cites an MNI Target Media study that found “about 83% of students at several major American universities say they ‘turn to newspapers for trusted information and content.’ Another 34% turn to magazines for validity.”

They were born and raised on digital, and yet have come to realize that it lacks a certain connection to the human experience, Beres explains.

“Raised using online technology that often is infested with bots, trolls and doctored images, this generation has come to regard the printed page as something that’s real and unaltered — something that, when held in one’s hand, creates a visceral, powerful connection.”

Want a real connection with this increasingly important generation? Think real. Think tangible. Think print.

“Digital media is in no danger of being replaced by the printed word,” Beres concludes. “We all know that. But it is comforting to know that our youngest consumers realize the dangers in a form of media that can all too easily be revised. Perhaps now, somewhere between the two worlds of all print and all digital, the pendulum is swinging back toward a more balanced middle.”