Catching Our Attention: 8 Facts from a Gen Z

If you were born between 1995 and 2014, then by the time you finish reading this sentence there’s a chance your attention span will have already run out. This generation, Gen Z, has an average attention span of 8 seconds and will make up 40% of all consumers by 2020. For continued success in the future, this is a group that brands need to focus on. With such a short window to catch Gen Z’s attention though, how are brands supposed to engage? As a part of Gen Z, myself, here are 8 fast facts that might help.

  1. Create “snackable content.” Think of Gen Z’s 8-second attention span more like a filter for inauthentic content. Give them the beginning, middle, and end of the story in eight seconds or less. Gen Zers have been inundated with branded content and sponsored advertising since they were babies. They know an authentic message when they see one.

  2. Be diverse and inclusive. This is very important to Gen Z. 81% of Gen Z respondents, in a report by research firm 747 Insights, agreed with the statement that "I have one or more friends who are of a different race than me.” Only 69% of millennials agreed. Striving to be inclusive, Gen Z wants brands that treat them like the diverse group that they are. To stay in stride with Gen Z, a positive, inclusive, and progressive message will resonate with Gen Zers.

  3. Visuals matter most. According to a recent study, 95% of Gen Zers use YouTube and 50% reported that they could not live without it. Videos are what grabs Gen Z’s attention and that is why we have seen such a meteoric rise in YouTube stars and Instagram influencers.

  4. Social responsibility. 76% of Gen Z is concerned about humanities impact on the world and 60% want their jobs to make a difference in the world. To get Gen Z’s attention, be a brand with a strong social conscious—care about your carbon footprint, be philanthropic, and create prosocial inclusive messaging campaigns. Gen Z wants brands that listen to their concerns.

  5. Be on all screens. Create content for all screens because Gen Z uses an average of 5 screens: laptop, smartphone, desktop, iPad, and TV. To make sure you engage with Gen Z, you need to create authentic content, but make sure it’s everywhere. You can't rely on just one screen to reach Gen Z even if you think it’s the most effective medium.

  6. Constantly socializing. Gen Z spends and average of 7.6 hours per day socializing with family and friends and 4.5 hours on social media. Devoting most of their waking time talking to people, brands can use this to their advantage. Create content and experiences that consumers want to share on social media and spread to their friends. Instagrammable moments are the best publicity.

  7. Authenticity is essential. 63% of Gen Z said they would rather see “real people” in ads and sponsored content than celebrities. That’s why Gen Z flocks to YouTube stars. They have a more engaged following than celebrities do amongst Gen Z because Gen Zers see YouTube stars as “real people” with authentic content.

  8. Embrace new technology. In retail, 73% of Gen Z shoppers are either currently using, can't wait to use, or will probably use voice activated ordering and 70% currently use, can't wait to, or will probably use social media for their ordering. Gen Z wants to engage with new technology in retail, so provide them with ways to do that for your products and services.

Don’t think of Gen Z as a big group with an attention deficit problem; think of Gen Z as highly evolved digital natives who have cultivated an 8 second content filter where they can efficiently prioritize the content they like and don’t like. If you can do this and give Gen Z the respect they desire, engaging with them will be a whole lot easier.