A POV on the TranZition to Gen Z

Let’s face it. Most communicators just started showing a little swagger, finally feeling as if they had mastered Millennial marketing. And now, we start hearing about this “Generation Z” (in dramatic air quotes). These are today’s kids and teenagers (18 years and younger in 2015)—demonstrating global purviews, digitally connected minds and strategically networked influence. They are positioned, as their predecessors were, to once again change the world. Does this mean that marketers have to start all over again?

I recently convened a panel of Gen Z experts and influencers in Ketchum’s San Francisco Food Studio to take a deep dive into the Gen Z mindset and address the question nagging all of us in some way: with the rise and growth of Gen Z, do we need to reinvent the strategies we developed to interact with millennials in order to engage with Gen Z (click to tweet)? Here’s what stood out:


  • From a YouTube DIYer:  Sixteen-year-old Tanner Bell is everything I hoped Gen Z would embody: optimism, entrepreneurialism, genuine enthusiasm, mystery and integrity. When asked how marketers could get to know Gen Z, Tanner’s biggest piece of advice was to “get out of the boardroom.”  “How can you know us if you are sitting in a conference room talking to each other.”
  • From a Snapchat Artist: Cyrene Quiamco proves that power is really in the pen. Or stylus.  A uber-popular Snapchat Artist and Storyteller, Cyrene’s interactive and engaging content includes games, quizzes and live tutorials that has captured the attention of major brands, media and followers. Her influence is earned by creating simple and visual ways for fans to engage. The lesson here—keep it simple and visual.
  • From a Producer: One of my all-time favorite examples of Gen Z in effect, Erika Novak, former head of Branded Entertainment at AwesomenessTV—the fastest growing video destination for Gen Z (currently with Legendary Digital Networks). While Gen Z may lead a more pragmatic lifestyle, she reminded us that kids just want to have fun too—particularly when it’s delivered peer-to-peer.
  • From a CEO:  Lead dog at SoulPancake, the super cool media and entertainment company founded by actor Rainn Wilson, Shabnam Mogharabi oversees production of digital and traditional video content. Shabnam reiterated the halo effect that the Gen Z mindset has on every other generation—noting that it’s now simple commonplace for a 78-year old grandmother to chat with her 13-year old grandson on Facebook.

Ultimately, the key insight from the panel is that Gen Z has been watching and studying us. They have been drawing inspiration from our triumphs and courage from our failures. They are pragmatic yet entrepreneurial, conservative yet optimistic. Yes, they have a unique outlook on the world, but they are still building on the lessons and experiences of the Millennial trailblazers that came before them. We are in the midst of a tranZition—an evolution of the Millennial philosophy. And it’s up to us as communicators and marketers to understand and embed the Gen Z mindset into brand philosophies.

Angela Fernandez, Senior Vice President, Strategic and Creative Planning and Engaging Gen Z lead, is based out of Ketchum’s Los Angeles office.