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The generations defined

Think Visual with Gen Z

You can’t keep hiding from the fact that Gen Z is here. You can stop complaining about millennials (many millennials are turning 40 this year); you have a new generation active in the marketplace.

Who is Gen Z? Great question. Pew Research defines them as anyone born from 1997 onward. The oldest of the cohort is turning 22 this year. The youngest Gen Z is around 7. By the way, there is no authority deciding the name of each generation. Usage inertia decides which generation title wins, and the judges are made up of the press, dictionaries and pop culture.

The generations definedOne thing to know is that millennials are “the most racially and ethnically diverse adult generation in the nation’s history,” according to Pew Research. Gen Z will be even more diverse.

According to a study by Information Resources Inc. (IRI) from Chicago, Gen Z has grown up with “unprecedented — and immediate — access to information.” Gen Z is the true on-demand generation. They have grown up with Amazon and grocery store deliveries. Another key insight is that Gen Z is highly visual. Discovery is replacing brand loyalty. Your “interesting” story will be important in talking with Gen Z. According to IRI, “They are keenly aware of product packaging and the messages it sends. Connections between what brands say and their packaging relay immediate cues to authenticity (or the lack of it).”

Gen Z Product Purchase InfluencersGen Z will disrupt the world. IRI summed it up like this: “Cultural diversity and its commitment to individuality, human rights and equality will be the disruptive hallmarks of this generation. … It is inclusive. It isn’t about choosing A or B, it is about having the option to choose A and B.”

IRI found that Trader Joe’s is a strong brand for Gen Z. The reasons for liking Trader Joe’s give you insight into how Gen Z is viewing the world.

Gen Z believes at Trader Joe’s:

  1. The experience matches the hype
  2. The store is not trying too hard to communicate
  3. It feels safe, approachable and local
  4. Quality and value intersect
  5. Packaging is gender and identity neutral

At AMPERAGE, we have always championed the value of being real and authentic in your marketing. It’s more time- consuming and more expensive, yet Gen Z will demand it.

Mark Mathis III is chief creative & strategy officer, partner and cofounder of AMPERAGE Marketing & Fundraising.

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Mark wrote his first direct-mail fundraising letter in 1981 for the University of Iowa Center for Advancement. The effort raised a few million dollars in undiscovered wills and legacy gifts. From that day forward Mark discovered a love of the big idea that moves the needle.

With that kind of experience, after working at KWWL for 12 years, Mark became one of the founding partners of ME&V and, subsequently, AMPERAGE. Today, he leads the AMPERAGE creative teams, including video production, graphic design, public relations, writing and web development.

He is creatively ambidextrous — son of an artist and engineer — and famous for distilling complex ideas down to a few words and a few visuals. Mark is a writer. When he found that many nonprofits struggled with complex branding puzzles, he wrote the book, “NonProfit-NonMarketing .” He also wrote a novel called “Reenactment.”

Mark is an active blogger OneMinuteMarketer® with nearly 1,000 readers each week on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter. One of his most popular YouTube videos is on “How to Look Good on Zoom.”

One of Mark’s fondest business memories was being named to INC 500 two times and attending the INC 500 conference with other winners. Mark is considered by some a Civil War expert (and that explains his novel). Mark also served as an adjunct professor in the business and in the communications departments at Wartburg College.

Mark is a graduate of the University of Iowa and is currently vice president of the University of Iowa Journalism and Mass Communications Advisory Board.

Mark is married to state Sen. Liz Mathis, and the two love to travel, even when it means being trapped by a volcano in the Czech Republic for three weeks.