Gen Z emerges as the hottest generation for marketers at CES


Takeaways on the "Now Generation" and highlights from CES panel featuring Periscope CCO Peter Nicholson.

Tired of talking about millennials? Good news: They are out and Gen Z is in as the hottest target demo for marketers. CES was all about this emerging generation, who is currently 15–25 years old and commonly referred to as Gen Z (or the Now Generation, according to GfK). Not surprising, considering this group will account for one-third of the global population by 2020.

It’s easy to assume Gen Z is pretty much the same as millennials. However, research reveals they have very distinct variances, including that by 2020, 47 percent of Gen Z will identify as non-white. This young generation wants to be viewed as anything but young — they are acting older than previous generations did at their age. They value creativity, internationalism, ambition, equality, knowledge and learning. This generation also reports being stressed out and longing for security more than previous generations, potentially stemming from the turbulent economy (read: Great Recession) they experienced as children and adolescents.

Additionally, this group sees their individuality as something not determined by how they look and what they buy but rather through a strong sense of self and social sensitivity. In other words, they don’t define themselves by being different, because being “different” is universal. Labels do not carry as much power — they’re just being themselves. In response to this, genderless and gender-neutral trends are growing, with brands like Lego, CoverGirl and Toca Boca leading the way.

Periscope’s chief creative officer Peter Nicholson was part of a session at CES — Millennial Myth Busters, Gen Z and the Next ‘Next Generation’ — in which a panel of experts discussed the importance of marketers understanding generational differences and preferences. For Gen Z, the key is resoundingly to find ways to reach this tech-savvy, growing group of Gen Zers in an authentic way.

Cultural relevance is also a huge factor, which shines through in Periscope’s work for Trolli, a brand constantly on a quest to reach Gen Z. Check out Trolli x Mokuyobi and Beardsketball as some examples. Fellow CES panelist POPSUGAR says they’ve responded to Gen Z’s interests and values by shifting their content from mindless celebrity gossip to more self-care, wellness and fitness topics that today’s consumers desire. They’re capturing Gen Z’s attention by positioning their platforms as positive, purposeful and playful.

The main takeaway? Gen Z’s buying power is rapidly rising, and they are not a group that can be marketed to in the same way as millennials.