min to LISTEN
November 24, 2020

WTF is Generation Z And How to Market to Them

Sarah Weise
Sarah Weise
Bixa Research

Sarah Weise is a bestselling author, founder of the award-winning Bixa research studio, and has worked with some of the world's biggest brands.

She recently turned her attention to the largest living generation, Generation Z, and her book, InstaBrain, is all about what makes them different and how to market to them.

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We covered:

  • The definition of Generation Z
  • Who are Generation Z and how are they different to Millennials
  • Why it’s important not to generalize
  • How parenting styles had an impact on Millenials and Gen Zers
  • Why Gen Zers make good entrepreneurs
  • Why marketers need to consider how Gen Z’s brains work in order to market to them properly
  • Where companies go wrong when selling to Gen Z
  • Which platforms Gen Z use and how they use them


Full transcript:

Louis: Bonjour, bonjour and welcome to another episode of Everyone Hates Marketers.com. The no fluff, actionable marketing podcast for people sick of shady, aggressive marketing. I'm your host, Louis Grenier.

In today's episode, you learn how to launch products specifically targeted at younger generations, specifically Gen Z.

So my guest today is a best selling author, a professional speaker. She's the founder of an award-winning marketing research studio called Bixa research. She worked with Google, Capital One, IBM. Plenty of very famous brands and she knows her stuff. and yeah, she wrote a book recently around how to market to Gen Z, customers in particular.

So we're going to define all of that together and talk about how to launch products with them specifically. Sarah Weise, super happy to have you on board.

Sarah: Thank you so much for having me.

Louis: So we were talking before at the start of this episode, and I told you that I will ask you some questions around, I'll try to challenge you a bit on Gen z, the definition and all of that.

People listening to this podcast for a long time, know that I like to do that at the start. That it doesn't, it's not against you or your work. That is very well-known. And as you said, award-winning, and all of that. It's just to try to understand the concept a bit more. I just want to read something to you briefly.

That's Ryan Wallman, who's a famous copywriter who likes to challenge things a bit and kind of, says around millennials and the way millennials and marketers, the relationship between the two. So a few lines. It's very witty I'd like to say. , It says, "Millennials, like stuff. And they don't like other stuff.

All millennials like exactly the same stuff. they are completely different from every other generation in that they were born in a different time. Millennials won't persist with anything that doesn't keep them interested, Millennials have experiences", etc. 

So he's making all of this generated to fight against the fight that a lot of marketers obsess over, specific generation and to grow things together.

And I think the same thing is happening with Gen Z, a bit where. we tend to generalize to the point where, it's like everyone born in November have the same personality and all of that. So I want you to challenge you a bit on this. but before that, just maybe let's describe or define what Gen Z is.

What is the age gap, the years they were born and all of that, please.

Sarah: I'm going to have to look up the years, but there are about 13 to 26 today. So I guess they were born between I'm looking it up right now.

They were born between 1995 and 2006. So there are about 13 to 25, 26 right now. Yeah. And the people who are younger than that are actually in a new generation called Gen Alpha. So not a lot of people know that term. And, they're actually, you were talking a bit about millennials, Gen Alpha. are kind of on track to be much more similar.

To Millennials than to Gen Z. They were raised at a time of a boom. They have slightly different parenting styles, more similar to Millennial parenting styles. It was just, it's just really interesting that they were on track and then COVID happened and everything changed. And I actually am doing some research on gen alpha right now, because I am fascinated by how this new generation is going to.

React to this massive life altering change really where they're no longer going to school in person. And they're no longer seeing their friends and their parents are losing jobs and taking pay cuts and being furloughed. And their whole world has come crashing down. And this is a very defining moment in their early childhood. So I'm interested in that. So when you were describing millennials being a little different than everybody else, and they like what they like and that kind of thing it made me think of, Oh, that was Gen Alpha, like two months ago, three months ago.

Louis: Yep. It's true that there are massive systemic changes that touch everyone and as a marketer, super important to understand them, understand the impact that it has on people. So what do you say to, what do you say to this, to the point of, can we really generalize and group all of the people who are born between specific years to, To something that like basically putting them together, they all have similarities.

Is it a shortcut?

Sarah: I think You can generalize. Most of them, you can never generalize something for every single person born in a generation. And that's actually why I had to look up the years because I'm not. One of those people who are like, Oh yes, you were born in 1995. You must be a gen Z or something like that.

Even myself, I'm in the I'm at the tail end of Millennials being 37. And, but I was actually raised in a home without high speed internet. So my behavior is actually more similar to gen X. So I'm in this little, micro-generation called the Oregon trail generation. And you may not know the Oregon trail, do you know Oregon trail because you were not born in the United States, right?

Louis: Never heard of it.

Sarah: So it's called the Oregon trail generation for at least the Americans, because they were, when we were in school, all the schools in the United States had this video, not a video game, a computer game on the old big computers that were on the big floppy drives. And it was. Oregon trail. It was called Oregon trail and it was literally a little guy marching across the United States to settle westward.

And everybody died of dysentery. You had to shoot squirrels to eat. It was a very morbid game, but all the schools in the United States at that time had everybody playing it. So I called this little generation who remembers the Oregon trail. Computer game in schools, the Oregon trail generation.

It's like a little micro-generation at least for the Americans.

Louis:Yeah, I had never heard of it. Thanks for that. So the other thing I wanted to ask you about a bit is, when you Google stuff around like different generations, so marketers, you can find images that summarizes everything to like into a table where you have the different generation, like millennials, Gen Z, Gen Alpha, whatever.

And then they share the music they like, so apparently Gen Z, they like Taylor Swift and whatever, and Millennials, M&M and whatever, what boomers, so they make all of those generalaraties to the point where, you know, as if we're all robots liking the same stuff and my biggest pet peeves with this, and I know you practice.

Like market research, UX research, you know how to interview customers. You do that for a living. So I know that you go deeper than this, but my biggest pet peeves around those is that we round out the edges or we give marketers an excuse to use shortcuts instead of actually doing the work you do, which is going deep into interviewing customers. 

And so Oh, there's no point in talking to people, understanding what they want, what the desire, the objections they have, because we understand them. we know the music they like and whatnot. I'm answering my own question here because I know that the service you provide and that's what you're going to go through together, but that's the biggest issue that I have around this generalization is an excuse to be lazy as a marketer.

Sarah: I don't think it's an excuse to be lazy. I think it's a good starting point because Gen Z is very, a very different customer than Millennials on average. And and there was, that was it's because of a number of different things that happened when they were growing up.

There was a massive shift in parenting styles. When you think about millennials being raised, and again, this is not for everybody, but. The majority of millennials were raised by parents who did everything for their kids. They were called like tiger parents and helicopter parents. And I'm sure you've heard those terms, but with Generation Z, being in front of a screen the whole day, I feel like as they were growing up, their parents didn't really do things for them.

They taught them how to do things for themselves using the internet. So it was a very different type of parenting style. So instead of tiger parents, we get tech parents. And they also, so this created sort of a generation of people who are more independent than say millennials, but also their parents scared them shitless about everything that could go wrong online, like everything from online predators to identity theft and everything in between.

So this also results in a generation who's slightly more risk averse. They also were grown. They really grew up in a different world than millennials. We talked about how millennials grew up in a boom time of a boom, but gen Z grew up in a time of hardship in a time of a recession. They were born after nine 11.

They never knew a time without war. they saw their parents lose jobs and take pay cuts. They're hungry for work. They have a different work ethic. They also are. On average choosing jobs that pay more than. Choosing jobs that maybe meet their passions, that they're super passionate about, which as you'll see, when you look at millennials and you see all like the social impact that they want to do and stuff like that, it just until this, until very recently, we haven't seen that at all in gen Z.

We've seen them talk a big game, but very little action.

Louis: So I like what you said about it being a starting point, right? when you do. When you do consumer research today, you will absolutely find segments of people inside this generation that don't fit at all. What you're describing. Obviously there are parents that raise kids differently.

you might be, they might be in a country where hardship wasn't as much or. Where they weren't that, exposed to let's say the U S economy or the worlds that were going on. there's so many differences, but I agree that there are similarities and it's a good starting point, but it's, it can't be the only thing you do as a marketer, It can't just be. Looking at the generalization and said, this is my job is done.

Sarah: The Book that I wrote. We interviewed and did ethnographic research with thousands of Gen Z participants. And we did this research both in the United States and in India, we did not do research ethnographic and in-person interviews in Europe, for example.

So I may, it may be underrepresented. Yeah. that was a consequence of all the contracts I had that were coming in that said, Hey, will you do this research? And although we have talked to thousands and thousands of Gen Zers, we have done both qualitative studies, quantitative studies. We did one study where eight times a day, thousands of kids across the United States texted us and we were asking them questions about, Hey, what were you just looking for? What information were you looking for? How did you go about finding it? And from, they got random texts, eight times a day asking them that, and they would text right back and we'd ask them questions about it.

From that study alone, we ended up with something like 30,000 pieces of data, little data pieces, and we had to go through and analyze them and really find the trends that happened.

Louis:Yeah. This is fundamental work. And again, That's why I was wanting to change the style because I know your methodology.

I know that you're a UX expert and I know that you would have to just make or search for communities without a proper, that data set. So your data, your insights are grounded in research, and that's awesome to hear. So you already started to mention a few things, That you've learned through this research.

Maybe we can talk through the other sites, the other, stuff that you learnt through this research.

So you started to mention a few things, at the start, a few hints inside that you've gathered through this research. maybe before we go through, the type, if you were to launch a product to this, to a group, that fits the gen z generation, how we would go, go about it.

But perhaps you can share maybe two or three other key insights that you've learned through your research on who these Gen Z people are.

Sarah: Yeah. We talked about shifting and shift in parenting styles. We talked about how they were raised in a time of hardship. We talked about how they were hungry for work and side gig savvy.

A lot of them are super entrepreneurial. A lot of Gen Zers are super entrepreneurial. They are starting their own businesses. They are not waiting until they graduate to do it. They are just getting out there and they're learning about things there. The best way to be an entrepreneur, I feel like, is sometimes just Googling stuff and figuring it out.

And that's what they're doing. they're really teaching themselves how to do it and how to start businesses and make money. They're very focused on money as a whole, much more so than millennials. They want to make money. They love making money. We even see this when we recruit participants for Gen Z studies.

Whereas when we recruit millennials, we'll let we'll say, Oh, okay. It's a hundred dollars to participate in this interview and there'll be like, great, thanks. And when we recruit gen Z will be like, it's a hundred dollars to participate in this interview. And. They'll say, okay, but what if I bring a friend?

Can I get a little bit extra?Do I get a referral bonus or, Oh, what if I did a little bit longer? Or what if I'm on the interview for an hour and a half instead of an hour? Can you pay me more for that? and they're negotiating with us, which we just don't we've I've never seen that with someone in a different generation, even just to pay them for a research study.

Louis: Where do you think that's coming from? That Entrepreneurial side?

Sarah: I think a lot of it is raised in a time of recession. I think they're money focused. They saw parents, they saw their family struggle when they were young and they learned through watching family members and friends that, There it's tough. It's tough without money.

And they also have seen their older siblings and older friends emerge from college saddled with debt. They don't want to be like that. They're saving for college. We actually see the average age of opening a checking account to be much lower than millennials. It's about 13 years old. Now they've probably never actually been inside a bank.

But like actually walked through the doors of a bank, but they are opening checking accounts and saving at a much earlier age than millennials did. also they also, what we see, one thing we see is that they have significantly shorter attention spans, and I believe that is from being bombarded by.

Visual inputs scrolling across the screen from the time that they were very young. This is a group that literally grew up teething on their parents' cell phones. And they just have seen images and screens in front of their face, 24 seven for years. And whereas millennials, could juggle about three screens at a time, so they could be, say, playing a video game.

Reading a Reddit thread and texting a group of friends, gen Z can do this with five screens at a time. So they can be, watching that video game, reading a Reddit thread, texting one group of friends, having another conversation with another group of friends on a headset and watching a sports game all at the same time and keeping it all straight in their short-term memory.

So their brains have physically rewired to process more information faster. And I think that's a consequence of. Of adaptation that has happened because they have been bombarded by images, their attention span because they're juggling so much information though. Their attention span is decreased. millennials had about a 12 second attention span and gen Z has about an eight second attention span.

So if you've ever had a conversation with a teenager and you get frustrated because they are on their phone. And you don't think they're listening to you, they probably are listening to you. it's just that they're juggling multiple different things and they've got a lot going on in their head and that's their default.

Louis: Is that not down to the fact that they have like younger brains, and because it's difficult because you compare, obviously, by the way we segment those people, based on their age, we compare, we can compare like for like but it will be interesting to know whether there were studies done for millennials when they were the same age.

Sarah: There have been studies done on that. And it's not the same. Their brains are different. Like they're actual, they have rewired.

Louis: They're physically different?


Louis: That's a fact?

Sarah: Yes. I have a study. You can put it in your show notes.

Louis: Cool. no, I like to understand that, but when we talk about rewiring, we are obviously not talking about the fucking biotechnology or anything crazy happening.

Sarah: No. They're like their actual brains have rewired.

Louis: Yeah. Yeah. my point is like, when we say rewired, is it, is, is a part of the brain more developed or what's the phenomenal, the phenomenon behind it, like in the brain itself. Do you know?

Sarah: I don't know. The actual scientific part, the, what's the actual science that's going on, but from reading the results, they, the capacity to store.

Store and juggle more in their short-term memory has increased. So there's no such thing as multitasking. You're like flexing your attention. It's more like multiflexing. You're flexing your attention from one thing to the next. And what's happening is that they are able to switch context much quicker and juggle more in and hold it all in their short-term memory with a greater capacity.

Louis:That's the way I wanted to go. That's perfect. The perfect answer. So yeah, that makes a lot of sense. So the parts of the brain are responsible for holding short-term information, they've trained it so much from a very young age, then they tend to be. Able to, to switch context much faster and to have more contexts to handle, as you said, three versus five screens.

So that's very interesting, And that's something that we need to absolutely get into our brains as marketers for younger generations to keep and hold their attention is going to be true.

Sarah: Yeah. And one thing that marketers need to know is. That's the kind of thing they need to know.

And it's, it is a generalization. It may not be the same for everybody, but they need to know that their hooks need to be on point and that they have less time than they did for other generations to capture attention.

Louis: Yeah. the clutter is there every single day there's no data being produced than the day before.

There's more and more ads, more and more messages being sent to you more and more brands. The barrier to entry for anything is super low. Anyone can start a business in an hour or less with a laptop and an internet connection. we are bombarded with things. and in general, anyway, whatever the generation, we are exposed to more things than we were exposed to 10, 20, 50 years ago. But this generation in particular is specifically impacted.

Sarah: Yeah. one thing that's happening is that because there's this constant waterfall of content, they're making decisive snap judgments about what they're interested in, but they have this super power where once they decide what they're interested in.

They can deep dive into the content and they can really block out all distractions and just focus on that one thing, like hyper focus on that one thing for hours weeks, even at a time just. Focusing on that. So I have this story about this girl that I interviewed. She was scrolling through Instagram one day and she came up across an image of a pet hedgehog.

And she decided right there in that second she's 13 years old, she decided, okay, I want to have a pet hedgehog. So she goes to her mother and she says, Hey mom, can we get a pet hedgehog? And her mother says, no, absolutely not. We can't get a pet hedgehog. They're wild animals. And aren't they nocturnal. And they're going to sleep all day.

They're pokey. This is not a good pet. And so she being the 13 year old gen Zer that she is, goes back to her computer and her phone probably. And she starts researching everything there is to know about hedgehogs and for a week, she does in every moment of her spare time. She watches videos on hedgehogs.

She looks up every photo. She can. She makes collections of hedgehogs. She's on Tik TOK, looking at hedgehogs, floating in bathtubs and seeing little inner tubes and seeing how cute they are. So when it comes to. A week later and she goes to her mother and says, Hey mom, can we have a pet hedgehog?

She has responses to every argument that her mother throws out. And so finally her mother gets worn down and says, okay, fine. How much is it to buy your pet hedgehog? And she says, it's $500 and blah, blah, blah. The hedgehog and the cage and the food and everything. And so she says, the mother says, okay, great.

If you can make $500, you can buy yourself a pet hedgehog thinking that's the end of it. But this girl is persistent, she is a persistent entrepreneurial Gen Zer, and she Goes back to YouTube and she starts typing how to make money from home. And she finds slime making and so she says, Oh, I want to make slime.

I'm going to go sell slime. her mother has essential oils around the house, so she doesn't just make slime. She makes luxury slime like eucalyptus, lavender, slime, or orange spice, slime, or, different. Sense of slime and she packages it beautifully and she takes it down to the convenience store across from the middle school.

And she says, she says, Hey, will you stock my slime? And of course they say no, but she goes back every day and is persistent again until the manager says fine, I will stock your slime. But if it doesn't sell, like we're done well a few weeks later, she has more than enough money to. Buy her pet hedgehog.

She realizes how much money she's making, selling the slime. She starts selling it on Instagram. She doesn't even have a website and she's selling the slime on Instagram. And now she has her pet hedgehog and on top of selling slime and having a booming slime business, her pet hedgehog is now paid and sponsored.

So she's making money on the pet hedgehog too. So just, I love this story because it's. Talks about it. It captures all of the essence of Gen Z, how they're entrepreneurial, they're hardworking, they're persistent, they're diligent. They make these snap judgements, but then they deep dive into the content. All of that stuff.

Louis: Yeah, that's quite fascinating.

This is a very good story. Thanks for sharing it. And again, remind me what age they are. They are between 13 and 25 is that it?

Sarah: Yes. About that. Again, it's based on behavior, not necessarily the exact age.

Louis: Yeah. Yeah, exactly. Which is the right point to make. It's not just an arbitrary age group. it's more about the behavior behind it.

Sarah: Yeah. And the shared experiences that they had as they were growing up.

Louis: Okay. So we have a few minutes to go through an interesting exercise, I would say. So let's forget that you have this research business. but let's not forget all the knowledge you've gathered about this particular generation.

Let's say for the sake of the argument that we are selling something specifically or quite close, like for those folks, That is between 13 and 25, roughly that's the bulk of our business. I don't know if we need to come up with a product or fake products or services. Maybe you can come up with one, but let's say this is your plan.

Let's say you have a product that you want to sell to them. I want to know from your perspective, based on all the research you've made. How would you go about launching a new product to them? And again, you can pick a random product if you have an idea already or something that you've already thought about or whatever, but let's go through it and try to have a step by step to help people have it.

Sarah: Sure. The first thing I would do is figure out who you're selling to and what their problems are. From a research point that's the first step you have to understand, you can't just make a product and then hope that you can push it to some random market. So you have to really understand the audience and know that they've got an, a problem they need solved.

But other than that, aside from that, I would start by looking at. Some of the key trends that this generation responds to in terms of marketing. So one of the things that they respond to really highly is something about learning. They love to learn. And we did this study where we had, half of the participants they binged on.

Netflix for three hours. And then we talked to them about Oh, how do you feel now? And then we did the same thing where we had participants binge on YouTube content for three hours and talk to them about, Oh, how do you feel now? And the people who binged on Netflix, they, they told us things like, Oh, I feel like I wasted my time.

I feel guilty. indulging in entertainment for those last three hours. And I could have used my time better, but the people who watched YouTube for three hours, which you know, is like an average Tuesday for Gen Z. they said things like, Oh, I learned a lot. I feel like I learned, and it may not have been academic content.

they were learning. They may have been learning how to beat the next level in the video game they were playing, or they may have been learning how to do a James Charles rainbow eyes with makeup, or they could have been learning how to, take care of a pet hedgehog, whatever it was though, they felt good about.

The fact that they had spent their time learning something new. Whereas the people who were watching entertainment just for the sake of entertainment, they felt like they were, they, it brought about feelings of guilt.

Louis:But that would be the case for every generation.

Sarah: No, it's not. So millennials need pure entertainment to relax, and that's why you see Netflix being so prominent.

For millennials, they love it. They love those kinds of streaming services that they can just sit back and relax and binge on some content and then feel like they've recharged in some way.

Louis: So gen Z, how did they recharge then differently? They did recharge by learning?

Sarah: They recharged by learning. It's different, they're constantly sucking up knowledge.

Louis: Okay. Interesting. Okay. So to go back to your first step, which is defining the problem, we've talked about that many times in the podcast, how to interview people. So I'm not going to cover that too much with you let's assume for the sake of the argument that we have a well-defined problem.

And we are looking at the solution. So you started talking about trends and I cut you there, but talking about trends and the fact that they love learning. Okay. So what would you do with this information? For example,

Sarah:Yeah. So then I look at what platforms they were on. I'd look at what platforms they were going to.

And they, Gen Z is very clear on where to post and look for content. They are really discerning curators compared to millennials who maybe post the same thing in. 10 different places. Gen Z really believes that different platforms are for different types of content. So I look at that too. So for example, like Instagram is for random inspiration or kind of slice of life content, whereas like Pinterest is for very specific information.

So if you were going, if somebody is like, Oh, I want to be inspired in the realm of cake decorating, you would look at Pinterest instead of Instagram. Twitter is for professional announcements. Possibly even news, if they do read news, some of them do so a certain percentage, Google is really for discreet facts or homework questions.

They actually spend as little time searching as possible on Google. If they can find the answer in an answer box, that's great. They don't like digging into articles. They don't like reading the articles. They would much rather watch a YouTube video on it. And that's where YouTube and the DIY and the learning comes in.

That's more of what YouTube is for. That's more of a primary search engine when they want to find, figure something out. And then we've got Tik TOK for just pure entertainment. I actually think that Tik TOK. It was like what Snapchat was maybe seven years ago where they're on it, just because their parents don't get it.

And now that their parents are starting to get on Tik Tok, they've jumped ship and are now on Triller and some others where they're. Yeah, it's just, it's funny.

Louis: Just like all life.

Sarah: Yeah, exactly.

And then Snapchat's more, it's dwindling for sure, but that's still for, communicating with their friends for random, funny videos or behind the scenes for the influencers they follow.

So if an influencer is creating some sort of content, James Charles is doing some sort of makeup video or something like that for YouTube or for Instagram, he might post some behind the scenes. Footage on Snapchat. So they definitely want to follow that there. whereas Snapchat is for random communications with their friends, a text message and I message specifically is for more urgent communication.

And then Facebook it's sweet. Really? It's for parents. Maybe older siblings and then LinkedIn. Oh, that's the one that we missed. Yeah, LinkedIn, we didn't even mention because they're not on it. They all have accounts. They're required by schools to create accounts, especially in colleges, but they hate it.

It feels intimidating to them. LinkedIn is not serving their Gen Z audience. right now,


Okay. So let's say let's just pick a random product. You probably have a better idea. Let's just pick something that is popular to gen Z just right now, like anything.

Sarah: Let's talk about, Some sort of ASMR.

That's a big one right now. it's an auditory. Let me look at, look up the actual acronym. ASMR actually, it's actually probably the biggest YouTube trend that you've never heard of if you're not in the gen Z generation. So it's an autonomous sensory Meridian response. and this is a. YouTube sensation where.

They are watching videos. With calming voices, calming music, maybe the dulcet tones of Bob Ross or, the painter, Bob Ross. He speaks in very low dulcet tones about his paintings. And yeah, now we're gonna, we're gonna paint with some Prussian blue now.

And, anyway, they listen to this, they have visual sensations and it actually stimulates a very calming. A calming response in their systems. So there are definitely, and when you look at the searches of this generation and ASMR versus basically any other search term, like if you look at the search volume, Of ASMR compared to say like candy or chocolate or Kylie Jenner or anybody else it's off the charts they're searching for this way more.

They're also always, almost always searching for this on a phone because they use it right around the time they go to bed at night. A lot of them listen to dulcet tones. So companies now are creating ASMR products. To talk with them. so one company, yeah, there's one company I just talked to last week.

it's a manufacturing company of all things and they like some of the companies that you wouldn't expect would be marketing to gen Z. But they actually are. They know that gen Z are entering the workforce and they are going to be their employees and their partners and their buyers. And so what they're doing is creating a whole ASMR YouTube channel called go to bed with ed and ed is a technical engineer that works for this manufacturing company and he reads technical manuals.

To put people to sleep it's hysterical. And so companies are doing this sort of outreach now. and even like beads, they're selling products like beads that people can play with. To induce a calming sensation while they're creating their ASMR videos and things like that.

Louis: Okay. So let's say, we actually sell a product that helps you to calm down like music and stuff like that.

There's one called Brain FM. That is pretty popular too, to focus on whatnot. So let's say that's what we sell. knowing what you know about the social media, where they're spending their time and whatnot. How would you go about, you know, finding people to buy your stuff, especially the one in gen Z.

Sarah: Well, Let's say you sell that.

I would go to the platform that they're using to find that information and specifically that information they look for on YouTube. So I would go to YouTube and I probably run some YouTube ads on similar videos and. See if that works. you've got to know your customer though. You've got to do your interviews.

And I feel like sometimes people say, Oh, what are the best resources for conducting these kinds of interviews or learning about your customers? And sometimes the resources are the most simple things, like picking up the phone and calling some of your cousins. I'm actually making phone calls and having a conversation.

That's not a scripted interview. That's just a genuine conversation about, Oh, how do you go to bed at night? Let's talk about that. Let's talk about your journey,

Louis: but do Gen Zers , do they actually answer the phone?

Sarah: You have to text them first, but yes they do. They can FaceTime really easily, especially the, those in the United States, 84% of them have an iPhone.

Louis: All right.

It's okay. So yeah, I liked your point about interviews, which is a point that we make on the podcast almost every episode. So I'm glad that you mentioned that even though we talk about a controversial topic that some actors don't like about putting people in buckets like that.

But I think it's, you're backing it up with very strong. Data and arguments.

Sarah: And I think that a lot of times I've seen, especially small companies, you're talking about launching to this audience, small companies, they're like, Oh, I'm just gonna use the same tactics I use for millennials.

And I'm just gonna, run a whole bunch of Google ads. And then I'll use trial and error and figure it out. But I've seen all of these companies waste tens of thousands of dollars doing this because they just didn't do their upfront research. Just a few phone calls, Calling 20 of their customers would have saved them tens of thousands of dollars in the long run doing this in ad waste, basically trying to figure out the right keywords.

Louis: So they would have known that. For example, they didn't search on Google for that they would probably turn to YouTube.

Sarah: Yeah. Or they might know they're not searching for the word meditation. They're searching for the word ASMR. So the keyword might just be very different.

Louis: Yeah, that's a very good point.

And I liked that you're mentioning this. So besides the biggest mistakes of not knowing where they spend their time and how to search for information, what other big mistakes have you seen companies make when it comes to launching a new product specifically to this generation?

Sarah: I think they launch, they expect that this generation is all on Instagram and they're like, Oh, let's just run Instagram ads.

Let's do that. Even talking to them, we might even talk to them and say, Oh, how many hours a day do they ask bias questions?'' Like how many hours a day do you spend on Instagram? Oh, good. You spend a lot of time on Instagram, but they may be on Instagram, not looking for the products that you're trying to sell.

They may be on YouTube or somewhere else looking for those kinds of products.

Louis: So when it comes to actually finding people who show some sort of intent. based on the research you've done, intent is usually happening on YouTube, less on Google, as you mentioned, are there any other places where they show where they have very specific needs?

You mentioned Pinterest, But they probably go there to find specific information. So maybe we should advertise there as well then.

Sarah: Yeah, it's possible. I actually thought Pinterest was dying until I started to interview Gen Zs and they all use it.

Louis: Yeah, I love that but this is the point that we're making on this podcast so many times, which is you can't make assumptions and yeah.

Or you would have asked me if Pinterest is growing, are people under 25 using it. I would have said, no, because I have no fucking clue. I haven't interviewed people in this, for this particular purpose. So that's nice. So knowing where they're hanging out, knowing where they search for information, absolutely critical.

So do talk to people, whoever they are, face-time them text them.

Sarah: Yeah. And then also knowing the, who they follow on all of these platforms too. That's a huge part of this, because...

Louis: Why?

Sarah: If I could boil it down to one key difference between millennials and gen Z, it would be the question they ask themselves when they go to find information.

So millennials will say, what do I want to know? They'll think about it. They'll figure it out and then they'll Google it or they'll look at it on YouTube or they'll go down a rabbit hole and they'll start getting information on whatever topic it is. Gen Z. Doesn't ask, what do I want to know? They ask what I should know?

And so instead of just creatively thinking about. What they want to know, they scroll. And this is why you see teens and young adults scrolling for hours and hours completely bored out of their mind scrolling because they are waiting for inspiration to strike. They are relying on the creators.

They follow, relying on the influencers. Feed them information. They're relying on the algorithms in all of these platforms to tell them what they should be interested in. So in that aspect we should probably reach out to folks who influence our customers and partner with them. They're mega influencers. Because they are not seen as authentic anymore. and actually you can blow your marketing budget very fast by going down the rabbit hole of hiring a mega influencer, I actually was just, I was doing some work with, a large. supplement companies like protein powders and things like that.

And they were saying they spent $750,000 last year hiring one influencer and they didn't see even close to the return on that. So this year they are actually spending their budget across a variety of not just micro influencers, but nano influencers, local nano influencers. So these are people, micro influencers have about a hundred thousand followers.

Nano influencers may even have just a couple of thousand followers, but they're super engaged followers and they're usually in a local area. And so by and. They don't cost even a fraction of the amount to, get them, to promote your product as some of these larger influencers do. you can hire dozens of nano influencers and micro influencers for the same budget and your reach and impact goes a lot further.

And it's seen as more authentic as well. Authenticity is a big deal to this generation as a whole, just because like you said, they've been bombarded by information every day. it's more and more new stuff. And when they see something that feels real and authentic, it just. they love it.

It's a way for them to filter through information. Yeah. And I think a lot of the authenticity these days, at least for the US-based folks that I've interviewed has been authenticity means familiarity. So a local. Nano influencers have a, are they feel like they're much more authentic because they're saying, Oh, I ate at this restaurant and thought Oh, I've been to that restaurant or they're saying, Oh, I'm on this street right now, shopping or something like that.

And they're like, Oh, I know where they are. so they. It feels more real because it's relatable

Louis: And we've come full circle in a sense, in the last few decades with technology where in the past, without the internet and whatever you were local, you were following local newspapers, local radio. And so you were influenced by your local and then, and the internet came in and then started to be international news international and everything.

and now it's coming back to local. thanks for technology where you can follow. As you said, people from specific areas where you can go super niche in subreddits that are very much targeted to your interests. So it's, it feels like we're going back to the core psychological principle of, yeah.

As you said, the more authentic you find them, the more you're likely to like them, the more likely you have to trust them. And it's yeah, it here's we're going back. Full circle almost.

Sarah: Yeah. in a lot of senses, we are

Louis: Before I let you go, I have two questions. The first one is any other big mistakes companies make, you mentioned too, that are super interesting. Any other one that you see?

Sarah: Yeah, I see a lot of companies going all in, on the do gooder strategy. They think that Gen Z, because they're young people, they will buy products just because they support a cause.

They are pretty fiscally conservative. They are not cheap necessarily, but they want to know that they're getting a lot of value from their money. And they also like things that are more tangible, whereas millennials crave experiences Gen Z often will want the experience, but they want the t-shirt too.

Like they want the thing that they, some sort of thing that they can hold in their hands, some sort of physical product, a lot of times, And so a lot of companies, they're going all in on this strategy, like a social strategy, a social awareness strategy or something like that. And it's not as effective as it might have been for millennials, but they just assume it is.

But, and again, this boils down every time it boils down to just knowing your customers, knowing your niche, knowing, this might work for a very niche group of , but as a whole. Not so much.

Louis: Okay. Thanks. Again, thanks so much for sharing all of this knowledge that comes from actual data, and not assumption.

So it's really nice to hear all of your research and you being able to summarize it that well. what are the top three resources you'd recommend, listeners right now. Could be anything.

Sarah: Of course, I've got to, I've got to say my book, InstaBrain, and I can tell your listeners that they can get a free chapter if they go to Bixaresearch.com/freechapter.

They'll also get a list of the different types of research methodologies that they can use specifically for Gen Z if they sign up there.

I'd also say some other good resources. like I said, they're really simple, call your customers. Really zoom. I use zoom for interviews all the time and Gen Xers are really good at that because they can do it on their phone.

I do a lot of mobile diary studies and there's a resource called a dscout. That is a really good piece of software to support mobile diary studies. So if you're asking people, Hey, over, I did one study for Google news where we asked them, okay, over the course of four days, every time you check the news, record your screen and show us what you're doing.

When you do it, so that it's a really dScouts, a really good tool to, to hold those kinds of videos and photos and virtual ethnography in an era where we're not doing as much in person right now,

But phenomenal resources. Thanks so much for mentioning all of this. And again, thanks so much for your time and sharing all of

Sarah: Thanks for having me.