Generation Z’s Developing Influence on SEOVanda Williams
Generation Z’s behaviour, both as consumers and as influencers, is largely different from the generations that came before them. As Gen Z’s presence continues to permeate the marketing industry, businesses need to adapt by learning how to work with and appeal to the rising generation.
Who is Generation Z?
Although the claimed birth years of this generation vary across different sources, research conducted by Pew Research references them as individuals who were born from 1997 and onward. The eldest member of Generation Z is just 24, and the group’s influence is already noticeable. In fact, last year Generation Z became the largest generation, constituting 32% of the global population. In other words, that’s 2.47 billion of the 7.7 billion people on Earth.
Even more shocking than the above statistics is their spending power. Annually, this group has a spending power of around $143 billion and an indirect spending influence of $333 billion. Gen Z will soon become the most pivotal generation in the future of retail, eCommerce and social commerce. That said, to secure a piece of this growing cohort, retailers and brands need to start establishing relationships with Gen Zers now.
How does Gen Z interact with marketing?
Individuals classified as members of Generation Z are the first consumers to have grown up entirely in the digital era. Not only do they have high standards for how they spend their time online, but they’re also tech-savvy and mobile-first. Also, Gen Zers have very different relationships with brands than the generations before them. To be successful at Generation Z marketing, brands not only have to earn their trust, but they also have to reflect their values, too. To illustrate:
- 68% of Gen Z expects brands to contribute to society. – Facebook IQ
- 61% of Gen Z is willing to pay more for products that are produced ethically and sustainably. – Facebook IQ
- 77% of Gen Z feels more positive about brands that promote gender equality on social media. – Facebook IQ
Beyond the generation’s resistance to conventional brand loyalty, research has also shown that the group is more difficult to engage. However, social media continues to be a major channel for Gen Z engagement:
- Gen Z spends an average of just under three hours on social media each day, almost an hour more than the average Millennial. – World Economic Forum
- 62% of Gen Z checks Instagram daily. – Business Insider
- 60% of Gen Z visits YouTube daily. – Business Insider
Gen Z responds to segmentation
Marketing to young generations as a single cohort will not be nearly as effective as segmenting your strategy and messaging. According to McKinsey & Company, 58% of Gen-Z is willing to pay more for products that are targeted to their individual personalities.
Segmenting your customers based on shared attributes and characteristics can improve your conversion rate as well as increase sales. With business intelligence tools as well as marketing automation software, you can automate your campaigns to send personalised marketing messaging to your segmented groups.
How does Gen Z use search?
Gen Zers have always had access to search engines – making them accustomed to quick questions and even faster results. They fully understand how to use search tools and they have a heightened capacity to evaluate SERPs before selecting which link to click.
When searching, Gen Z is almost always using mobile. As maintained by IBM Institute for Business Value, 75% of Gen Z regularly uses a smartphone over a computer or tablet. Their use and reliance on mobile devices can’t be overlooked or overstated, meaning businesses are already behind if they haven’t optimised for mobile. In fact, 61% of Gen Z has purchased a product via mobile in the last month.
Finally, this generation is the most sensitive to page load times, whereby an ideal website load time should be no more than 2 seconds. The probability of bounce rate increases by 32% if the page load time increases from 1 to 3 seconds.
Gen Z’s impact on SEO
Although this group is highly equipped to navigate and use search engines, the overall education on SEO is limited. Due to the ever-changing nature of search, as well as Google’s frequent rollout updates, SEO remains an elusive profession. By and large, Gen Zers will have to educate themselves on the subject – or seek out experience in the form of an internship, or some other similar experience they happen upon.
On the other hand, new technology is generally first adopted by younger generations and then gradually adopted by the older ones. For instance, although the number of smartphone users worldwide today surpasses three billion, the highest users are still Gen Z. What this means is that while Gen Zers may just be starting out in their careers in SEO or otherwise, their consumer behaviour alone is enough to rewrite the rules of search, and beyond.