With all the industry hubbub over Millennials, it is easy to forget about their younger brothers and sisters – members of Generation Z.
There are differing definitions about the exact chronology of this up-and-coming group of kids, but many peg their birth year starting in the late ‘90s – and that puts many of them on college campuses today. Chances are, many of you reading this blog post have children in high school and college – the epicenter of this emerging group of young consumers.
If you think they’re like Millennials, think again. While 9/11 may have been a defining moment for Millennials, the elections of Barack Obama and now Donald Trump may end up having as profound an impact on Gen Z.
A recent article in Media Village by Jack Myers lays out some of the key differences between Gens Y and Z, and why it’s important for broadcasters to begin reaching out to younger Zers sooner rather than later, especially because of their tech and media proclivities. Snapchat over Facebook, gender identity and diversity, and economic concerns following the Great Recession are all part of what defines many of these young people.
All signs point to higher signs of stress these days for all of us, regardless of our age or our station in life. You can only imagine what it’s like to be a teen in this environment. Parents are only too well aware the high school and college years are stressful enough as it is, but overlay some of the feelings of uncertainty and unrest on Gen Z kids, and perhaps you can gain a better appreciation of what many of them are up against.
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How does all this translate to radio, as well as other media habits? Thanks to a recent research study by Fluent that was covered by MarketingProfs, we can gain a glimpse into how Generation Z is entertaining and informing itself. We also gain an understanding of just how big a role mobile plays in their young lives.From Uber to Venmo to Netflix, their mobile phones are their conduits to the exchange of money, getting around, and connecting with their favorite video entertainment. While Pandora is not mentioned by name, Spotify has earned a significant percentage of their media time in just the past year.
Music discovery on the radio, however, is moving in the wrong direction. Less than a third of these Gen Z respondents say they’re finding out about new music over the radio airwaves. Similarly, gaming apps, cable TV, in-store shopping, and even Instagram are experiencing some usage decreases from the previous year.
Whether it’s reaching them with radio programming or encouraging them to consider careers in the industry, it’s essential to gain an understanding of who they are, how they think, and where they’re headed.
That’s another reason to support activities and initiatives that focus on Generation Z. It’s not just an investment in today’s kids, but also an investment in the future of the radio business.
Conclave 42 is already coming together, a great event that continues to be one of radio’s best conduits to young people. It’s set for July 26-28 in Minneapolis (yes, the Twins are in town that first night), and Conclave Chair, Lori Lewis, is already putting together great panels and speakers. Click here for information and registration.
And then there’s Dan Vallie’s National Radio Talent Institutes, ramping up right now for 2017. These are amazing teaching and training events geared toward students and interns in a growing number of locales around the U.S.
Over the next several months, there will be a number of these institutes happening all over the country, including Appalachian State, Knoxville, and Ellensburg, WA. The next is in Athens, Georgia, and the deadline for interns and students to sign up for that institute is tomorrow. There is time to sign up for the others. Information is here.
At a time when so many stations have trouble filling key positions, a focus on high school and college students is a great goal for radio to embrace.
I’m hopeful this is the year when I’ll join some of the great broadcasters who give their time at Dan’s institutes. I’ll will be at Conclave, and hope to see you there.
Just before the Christmas holidays, I made the trek to Plymouth Salem High School in Canton, Michigan, to spend time with a radio class. This is one of those rare high schools with its own FM radio, WSDP – “The Park.”
I have made several appearances at this school over the past several years, but a funny thing usually happens midway through the class. We exchange ideas, the students ask questions, I answer them but also ask them questions – and I believe we all learn a lot in the process.
Part of the way in which we invest in the future of radio is to share our knowledge and learning. But the other way we benefit is from listening to young students, and gaining an understanding of who they are, what they do, and how they think.
In the process, we gain insight about our own radio stations, and their ability to entertain and inform this new generation.
The ability for radio to survive and thrive in the future may be dependent on our understanding and embrace of Generation Z.
It’s time to go back to school.
Jacobs Media has consistently walked the walk in the digital space, providing insights and guidance through its well-read national Techsurveys.
In 2008, jacapps was launched - a mobile apps company that has designed and built more than 1,000 apps for both the Apple and Android platforms. In 2013, the DASH Conference was created - a mashup of radio and automotive, designed to foster better understanding of the "connected car" and its impact.
Along with providing the creative and intellectual direction for the company, Fred consults many of Jacobs Media's commercial and public radio clients, in addition to media brands looking to thrive in the rapidly changing tech environment.
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