Generation Z is comprised of people born after 1996. They have a buying power of $143 billion, and are well on track to becoming the largest generation of consumers by 2020.

85% of Generation Z is on social media, and are 59% more likely than previous generations to connect with brands on social media. The challenge? Generation Z has an attention span of only 8 seconds. Having grown up bridging the gap between a young Millennial or older Generation Z, I know as well as anyone. With a generation as robust as this, health care marketers should understand how Generation Zers interact with—and impact—brands like health care.

Here are four  things to know about Generation Z  to engage and impact them with your health care brand.

1. Ditch the stereotype.

Before you try to market to Generation Z, you should ditch the stereotype that they are a  generation with a social media addiction, a screen obsession, and a lack of focus.

Their digital intelligence should be embraced, rather than discarded. Grace Masback, a renowned voice for her generation, does a wonderful job expressing this in her book, The Voice of Gen Z. Understanding the Attitudes & Attributes of America’s Next “Greatest Generation, by stating:

“The key to understanding Gen Z is that we’ve taken the notoriously short attention span of millennials and reduced it further, not because we can’t dive deep into topics, but because as technology or digital “natives” we’ve spent our whole lives training to engage with the constantly changing technology landscape, and can process digital content with amazing speed.”

You should no longer look at their 8-second attention span as a lack of focus, but as an impressively fast digital processing time. Once you ditch the negative stereotypes of Generation Z, you will be able to effectively target the digital mediums needed to reach this generation.

2. Know the right platforms.

Ease of access and speed are no longer specialized factors for digital platforms when it comes to Generation Z. These are now seen as the “bare minimum” for engagement. What Generation Z members are looking for are ways of personalization. This is shown by their decrease in Facebook usage, and rapid increase in usage for platforms like Instagram, Snapchat, and YouTube. Last year in 2017 alone, Instagram usage by teens grew by 17%, Snapchat grew by 28%, and Facebook fell 2%. YouTube is the most-used social media platform by teens at 96%, while only 76% engage on Facebook.

Generation Z is the first generation to decline in Facebook usage, and is also the only generation turning to Instagram and Snapchat for product/brand engagement more than any other platform. The usage of Instagram, Snapchat, and YouTube is  expected to continue to rise for Generation Z. The use of Facebook is expected to continue to fall.

3. Make your messages unique and engaging.

How do you convey your messages in a way that will intercept that 8-second digital processing time Generation Z members possess? Your messages should be fast, impactful and engaging. The best ways to accomplish this include utilizing video such as vlogging or Facebook live—or, by utilizing animation in your advertisements. Generation Z remembers 80% of what they see and only 10% of what they read so you have to get to the point and most of all, be creative and original. Not only will these interactive forms of advertising and messaging stand out to Generation Z members, they also have that personalized and unique touch that the generation is drawn to.


4. Tap into your inner Simon Sinek.

As motivational speaker and leadership guru Simon Sinek says, “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it,” and this resonates with Generation Z. No other generation in the U.S. has grown up with as much diversity as Generation Z. They have become well-attuned to societal issues facing the U.S. such as racism, gender equality and gun violence. They have also witnessed intense political divisions such as in the 2016 election. It has become second nature for Generation Z to tap into their political beliefs or personal passions and share this through social media. They are a generation that is driven to lead a life with a defined “why,” and they are more engaged with brands who are doing the same.

Forbes published a great article that highlights this motivation for achieving societal well-being that Generation Z possesses. They wrote, “49% of teens volunteer at least once a month and 20% plan on starting their own charity someday. They are motivated to put their money where their hearts are, as the same report found that 26% of Gen Zers have recently raised money for a cause and 32% of that number donated their own money.” So, be sure to have a defined “why” and effectively weave this purpose into your messaging when reaching Generation Z via digital platforms. This generation is tired of “fake news” and wants nothing but real, genuine engagement with brands that have a defined purpose.

Utilizing these 4 tips for tapping into Generation Z’s digital habits will make a positive impact on your targeted marketing.  

Be sure to ditch the stereotypes, understand the platforms, make your messages unique and engaging, and tap into your inner Simon Sinek to embrace the “why” behind your organization and the “why” behind the individuals you are marketing to. Because at the end of the day, you don’t want to miss out on the digital intelligence and that $143 billion buying power this fantastic generation has to offer.