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Gen Z Search Behaviour: How to Understand and Optimise?

Like any generation, Gen Z has several traits that set them apart in terms of how they behave while making purchases and doing a search. Being the digital native generation influences their search behaviour significantly. But how can marketers use this to shape their brand for this generation?

Key Takeaways

  • Gen Z is considered to be born in the years 1997 – 2012.
  • Marketing to Generation Z is about gaining their trust through connections, community, and shared values.
  • Gen Z enjoys feeling part of a broader picture, so they respond to marketing campaigns encouraging their participation.
  • Social media is this generation’s primary source of information to learn about new products.

Who’s Gen Z?

Gen Z is the generation that follows Millennials and comes before Generation Alpha. The early 2010s are used as the ending birth years by researchers and the general public, whereas the mid to late 1990s are the starting birth years. According to Pew Research, Gen Z is considered to be born in the years 1997 – 2012. The majority of Generation Z’ers are descendants of Generation X. 

What Are the Unique Characteristics of Gen Z?

Digital Natives

Gen Z is the first generation to have grown up without dial-up internet or mobile phones that resembled bricks. They have spent their entire lives communicating with people via various social media networks since they were raised with the notion that they could talk to anyone in the world at any time. 

Electronics, which were a luxury to their parents and older siblings, have always been a requirement for this generation to function in the modern world. They have also been labelled neo-digital natives due to their aptitude for technology.

Short Attention Spans

Compared to the previous generations, Gen Zs have an attention span of roughly 8 seconds, whilst the average attention span of millennials is slightly longer, at 12 seconds. This might be because, unlike Gen Z, they did not always have easy access to technology during their formative years.

Visual Learners

In recent years, the average attention span has shrunk by 25%, and 65% of pupils learn best visually. Due to social media, youngsters are becoming less interested in text and more interested in video-based media, which keeps their attention and aids in retention.

For Gen Zers, there isn’t much difference between their online and offline experiences. Therefore training, development, and learning procedures must change and rely heavily on diagrams, infographics, photographs, mind maps, and other visual aids.


The propensity of Gen Z for independent labour sets them apart from their Millennial peers. The competitive character of Gen Z leads to their desire to take charge of their own destiny and not depend on others for their success, in contrast to millennials, who are all about collaboration. 

What Does This Mean for Marketers?

Be reachable on multiple platforms

Gen Z is active on many social media platforms; therefore, it is essential to be present on several social media sites for brands. This means that multi-channel marketing is more than just a one-size-fits-all endeavour. Marketers frequently duplicate a campaign and spread it out over several media. 

When producing content for TikTok, keep the platform’s users in mind. The same applies to Facebook, TV, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, and LinkedIn. These audiences are in no way similar to one another. In fact, Gen Z favours businesses that use each social media platform in a distinctive way.

Prepare content in multiple formats

As previously mentioned, Gen Z are visual learners. Therefore, visual content is more appealing to them than to other generations. This means they consume more visual and video content. 

In addition to written and audio content, it is a great marketing strategy to include videos, GIFs, etc. Many brands open TikTok accounts to appeal to their Gen Z customers by sharing short video content. 

Be a trustworthy source of information

Gen Z is more likely to support companies with a strong commitment to the issues that matter to them. Shopping and interacting with their favourite companies are ways for Gen Zers to express their values. 75% of Gen Z respondents to recent research responded that being politically or socially active is essential to their identity. These consumers are more socially conscious than any previous generation. Using social media to tackle difficult problems and contribute to the greater good, Gen Z looks to their favourite companies to do the same.

In addition to trusting the brand, this generation also gives high importance to the sources of information they get. They are more likely to research the source and don’t accept all information as true. Therefore, brands should be transparent with their statistics and advertising campaigns.

How Can Marketers Optimise for Gen Z’s Search Behaviour?

Create interactive content

Make sure marketing campaigns encourage Gen Z’s participation because they enjoy feeling like a part of a broader picture. These customers prefer direct interaction with their favourite businesses.

This generation wants engagement and the impression that the business created the content with them in mind. This indicates that it would be wise to involve them in projects of a greater size. Even though you might only publish one or two of them each year, if they appeal to this younger readership, people will remember them. This indicates that they’ll probably contact you again in the future.

Create content, not advertisements

Gen Z wants to absorb content and decide for themselves whether or not to purchase it. They seek fresh knowledge and a more effective method of operation. They are also a little more willing to spend than millennials. 

One reason why Gen Z loves influencers is because of this. They want advertisements to be engaging, talk directly to them, and not be overtly product-placement-focused.

Optimise website navigation

This generation has the shortest attention span. So if you want to catch their attention, you have the least amount of time to do so. Creating an easy-to-navigate website would make them find whatever they want easier and faster, increasing their satisfaction with the website.

Gen Z needs to be able to find what they’re looking for quickly and decide on what they are purchasing swiftly. Creating a personalised search box that would make them find what they are searching for is the key to gaining more customers from this generation.

Create content that is accurate and trustworthy

When Gen Z interacts with businesses, they demand complete transparency and social responsibility. They are very aware, naming social media as their primary source of information to learn about new products. You need to match your brand with the causes and values that are significant to this generation if you want to connect with a group that is so committed to activism, sustainability, charitable giving, and truth-seeking. By highlighting your brand’s distinctive beliefs and offering critical education from a reliable source through customised storytelling and compelling content, influencers are a terrific method to demonstrate that alignment.

If your company wants to cut through the digital noise, set itself apart from the competition, and legitimately create connections and trust with Gen Z consumers where they are, influencers should be a significant component of your Gen Z marketing approach. Marketing to Generation Z is about gaining their trust through connections, community, and shared values.

Read More: 5 Ways Your Brand Can Support Sustainable Practices

Wrapping Up

In conclusion, Generation Z has different behaviours that brands should consider. They care less about the price and more about what the brand stands for, their unique marketing strategies and the easiness of the process. 

For brands to catch the attention of Gen Z and keep them on their website, they must have personalised search tools. Personalisation is widely positively accepted by this generation. Therefore, offering them a personalised search experience would make them find what they are looking for more efficiently and faster, which is what they want.

Try out our Personalised Search tools to get the attention of your Gen Z customers and offer them the best search results ever!

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