10 Tips to Help You Connect with the Largest Generation on the Planet

I’d like to introduce you to Generation Z.

I know, some of you are still trying to catch up with Busters, or Generation X, or whatever we called whoever followed the Boomers. Or maybe you leapfrogged over all that straight to Generation Y (Millennials), on whom marketers have been focused for at least a decade.

Let me save you some time. Drop everything and start paying attention to Generation Z, who now constitute 25.9% of the U.S. population. That’s more than Millennials (24.5%). That’s more than Gen X (15.4%). Yes, that’s even more than Baby Boomers (23.6%).

So who falls into Generation Z? There’s still some debate on exact dates, but essentially those who were born after Generation Y. So approximately 1995 to present. At the time of this writing, it is the generation that is now under the age of 18.

Do the math, and you realize that they grew up in a post 9/11 world during a recession. They’ve experienced radical changes in technology and understanding of family, sexuality and gender. They live in multi-generational households, and the fastest growing demographic within their age-group is multi-racial.

And how has that molded them? According to the marketing research of Sparks and Honey, here are some “Z” headlines:

  • they are eager to start working
  • they are mature and in control
  • they intend to change the world
  • they’ve learned that traditional choices don’t guarantee success
  • entrepreneurship is in their DNA
  • they seek education and knowledge, and they use social media as a research tool
  • they multi-task across five screens, and their attention spans are getting shorter
  • they think spatially and in 4-D, but lack situational awareness
  • they communicate with symbols, speed and with images
  • their social circles are global
  • they are hyper-aware and concerned about man’s impact on the planet
  • they are less active, and frequently obese
  • they live-stream and co-create

I’ll stop there, because the list goes on and on. Bottom line: they are not Millennials.  So how do you connect with the largest generation on the planet? Marketers are way ahead of you.

Here’s a top ten to consider:

1.  Talk in images: emojis, symbols, pictures, videos.

2.  Communicate more frequently in shorter bursts of “snackable content.”

3.  Don’t talk down…talk to them as adults, even about global topics.

4.  Make stuff – or help Gen Z make stuff (they’re industrious).

5.  Tap into their entrepreneurial spirit.

6.  Collaborate with them – and help them collaborate with others.

7.  Tell your story across multiple screens.

8.  Live-stream with them – or give them live-streaming access.

9.  Optimize your search results (they do their internet research).

10. Include a social cause that they can fight for.

Do you see a theme? I do. It’s all about talking in a way they will understand. Not watering down the communication of the message, just changing the method of communication.

And with Generation Z?

It needs changing.

>> Read more from James Emery White here.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

James Emery White

James Emery White

James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, NC, and the ranked adjunctive professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, which he also served as their fourth president. He is the founder of Serious Times and this blog was originally posted at his website www.churchandculture.org.

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In this era, we have the opportunity of professional church staff today who utilize their gifting to shape the image and atmosphere of the church organization. But the 100% real impact on the church visitors is genuine evidence of changed lives by the gospel and the active growing discipleship (just as it was in the first century church). One demonstration is financially rich believers ministering equally together with poor believers (how odd, and incredibly miraculous; all humble and bow at the foot of the cross.). It is the awesome contrast of church members vocations, race, gender, age, maturity, gifting, humility that demonstrates to visitors "there is a Spirit in the place". That first-time guest list of 10 are "physical excuses", not spiritual excuses. Those don't tell the story. The condition of facilities and publicly greeting people have zero to do with it. The power of God in and through believers lives dedicated to impact other people with their relationship bridge-building of acceptance of the lost around them. Empowered believers are infectious, loving, helpful, giving, self-less, dynamic, compelling, bold, Christ-filled. As I have been in many church settings domestically and internationally, the facilities can be poor, and yet the fellowship can still be rich. We need to operate with first church humility. People come to Christ on His terms, not on our human abilities of hospitality. A huge catastrophe in a community, disaster relief brings lots of people into churches – many come to the church in those terrible conditions no matter the physical condition of the local church. Off the condition of facility, and onto the condition of God's people (living stones).... and everything else will grow.... and the other physical issues will be corrected by the staff.
 
— Russ Wright
 
"While I understand the intent behind this phrase" Expound please. What do you understand to be the intent behind that phrase?
 
— Ken
 
Thank you for this article! I'm the pastor of a small church. My gifting is in teaching and we are known for aiding Christians in becoming Biblically literate. Visitor's often comment on God's presence being very real in our services. But we just don't seem to be growing. I have some soul-searching, etc. to do and this article provides some solid ground from which to proceed. Thank you again.
 
— Jonathan Schultheis
 

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