Has Gen Z killed channel marketing or redefined it?

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With the advent of social platforms, apps, and the accepted practice of multichannel publishing that fluidly translates across multiple devices, did Gen Z murder channel marketing – or did they redefine it?

Let’s face it; we all saw this coming and knew this day would happen eventually. The world was a simple place back in the days of the 30-second TV spot and the Johnson Box.

Sure, you could go crazy with a telemarketing campaign, but consumers knew the basic rules:

  • Go outside to be introduced to new brands (on billboards and bus stops).
  • Get more information about the product, while reading the newspaper or a magazine.
  • Become intimate with the product or brand, while watching it dance across your TV screen.
  • Read more details, once the mail showed up.
  • Then buy the product.

That was it. Four channels could drive you towards a purchase, and each one respected each other’s boundaries.

Then the Web – with sites, banner ads, and email – pushed its way into the channel marketing space, bringing along a revolution in digital targeting. Things started to get messy, especially after social entered the picture. And the real damage started when the operating system wars began, and many marketers were put on the front lines of the mobile-first battle.

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For all of these changes, the Baby Boomers and Gen X’ers still respected channel significance. They looked to specific efforts for specific roles. While the Gen Y’ers were much more digitally savvy and interested, they too knew that channel performance mattered. But then, a new generation came onto the scene, and they were more digitally focused than any generation preceding it; Gen Z. For them, there is no “digital-first,” as digital defines a majority of all their interactions. Mobile-first doesn’t make much sense to them either because, well, what would be second?

Now, as marketers, we must prepare to shift our thinking again to adapt to the mindset of this new generation. Here is what they are looking for:

Say goodbye to brand loyalty

Gen Z grew up on the App Store. Therefore, they know products – not brands. To better understand exactly what it is that I mean, watch this ad by GE.

Say hello to real-time reviews

Gen Z reviews everything at any time, which is how your product awareness will grow (not through billboards and banners). If you are not capturing reviews, don’t expect success.

Google lost

Back in the day, Google used to decide what was popular with algorithms and artificial intelligence. With Gen Z, social decides this based on search in places like Twitter, Snapchat, and even secret group apps that us old people don’t even know about. It’s these searches that define what Google ranks now.

Being mobile-first or mobile-only will cause you to lose

Really, you must be everywhere first. Companies that understand a story starts once you hit publish, represent expectations for the future. With every social platform fighting for instant videos and articles, publishing to one platform at a time isn’t an option. So, making your presence known everywhere must be a major priority.

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TV is background noise

We used to see stats about people being on the Internet while they were watching TV. Now, with Gen Z, they have the TV on while they are watching the Internet.

In conclusion

To borrow and readapt a quote from Shakespeare, it’s a brave new world, that has such channels in it. Now all of the fences are coming down. While things may seem a little unfamiliar and messy to anyone that is not considered part of Gen Z, I think this is all change worth getting excited about and ultimately embracing.

Homepage and article images via Flickr.

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