Move over, Boomers and Millennials. A new demographic, Generation Z, has rolled into cyber town. While studies differ on the exact age of Gen Z-ers, most agree they were born sometime during the early- to mid-1990s, making them the largest generational group in the U.S.
According to a study by futurist group Sparks & Honey, “Meet Generation Z: Forget Everything You Learned About Millennials,” Gen Z is the new “must watch” consumer segment on the horizon, comprised mainly of young people age 19 and under.
As Gen Z-ers come of age and assume grown-up responsibilities like driving, voting, and imbibing adult beverages, today’s travel providers need to learn everything they can about this growing market segment. In 2015, the conversation will shift to this ambitious, entrepreneurial, altruistic and socially independent demographic, worth $44 billion and focused on changing the world.
Born and raised on technology
Here are five insights into the Generation Z consumer-traveler mind-set – and how travel providers can reach them.
- Use tech to connect, but honor their privacy. Gen Z-ers typically multitask across five screens: TV, phone, laptop and desktop – plus tablet, handheld gaming device and portable music player. While connected to infinity and back, they are nonetheless concerned about privacy, favoring anonymous and ephemeral communication tools like Snapchat and Whisper. It’s also imperative that travel marketers understand their social media preferences; for example, a surprising 25% left Facebook in 2014. Also learn all you can about Gen Z news trends (e.g. Elon Musk’s Tesla brand), issues (economic disparity), media & culture (Star Wars: Episode VII) and technology (iPhone 6). Gen Z-ers also relate best to quick-hit “snackable content,” including interactive infographics, videos, photos and travel memes.
- Market to parents. Gen Z-ers are close to their parents, united in a growing trend toward mixed, multigenerational individuals living together under one roof. Since parents still have influence over their kids’ globetrotting decisions, travel planners need to create offers that appeal to both groups with targeted themes, channels and communication styles. For example, delivering personalized content in larger fonts on your website will appeal to Baby Boomers and Active Seniors. To woo globally-focused Gen Z students and teen travelers, Philadelphia-based Travel For Teens uses proven channels, including their mobile-friendly website, blog, peer reviews, YouTube videos and Tumblr, Twitter and Instagram posts.
- They are socially conscious and care about the environment. According to a recent USA Today report, Gen Z-ers are more tech-savvy than their Millennial counterparts, and are taking environmentalism to a whole new level. This will create a huge opportunity for travel providers to attract Gen Z-ers with eco-friendly travel and “voluntourism.” Gen Z-ers will also appreciate initiatives like Amadeus’ environmental sustainability efforts, recognized by CDP, the international standard for CO2 reporting and management for corporations, which lists Amadeus in their Climate Performance Leadership Index 2014.
- They lack brand loyalty. Voracious online surfers and researchers, Gen Z-ers will demand transparency and truthfulness from their travel providers. Impatient and easily distracted, they favor superior products and services over the companies and brands that provide them. If a company disappoints them with false claims or inferior offerings, they will quickly say goodbye and find better options. United Airlines and Amadeus’ collaboration on a merchandising strategy to implement IATA’s New Distribution Capability (NDC) is an important step toward improving consumer transparency across the travel industry.
- They are highly entrepreneurial. Shaped by a DIY mindset, 72 percent of high school students report wanting to start their own businesses someday. Gen Z is naturally more collaborative than other generations, so concepts like crowdsourcing and open platforms provide efficient and meaningful ways to solve problems. Amadeus’ partnership with Seneca College is raising a new generation of tech-savvy travel pros armed with cutting-edge skills to effectively sell travel to the next generation.
As Marcus Jewell reports in a Huffpost Tech UK column, whether you’re planning to market to Generation Z-ers or employ them, the most important thing you can do is develop a strong understanding of their values and behaviors. And most of all, you need to create a robust infrastructure that supports their insatiable, unstoppable dependence on technology.
How do you connect with Generation Z consumer-travelers?