Marketing to Mini-Me’s of Gen Z

Grown UpLast Sunday, my innocent 10-year-old daughter couldn’t wait to see the infamous Hannah Montana perform on the MTV VMAs…until she did.  As soon as Miley Cyrus started her suggestive twerking, I darted across the room to cover her eyes while my other teen chanted “No Miley No”.  Let’s face it:  Miley has gone mad.

What happened to the cute & feisty southern girl who played Hannah Montana? What happened is that like many other child stars, Miley grew up too fast, too soon…and so are many Gen Zs. 

According to Mark Blankenship on NewNowNext, “most Disney stars think shedding their white-bread images means cranking up the slut factor.” But most reactions to Miley’s disturbing performance agree she went way beyond breaking an image and looked more like a horny rabid dog!

We hear repeatedly that Gen Z is growing up way too fast.  They are the generation of premature adolescents.  Here’s what I think contributes to this escalating trend: 

1.     Exposure to racy media, including porn at a really young age

2.     Producing videos of themselves, in which they try to look like actors and stars

3.     Less parental control with two parents working or parents “checked out”

4.     Digital excellence which inspires confidence and a one-up over parents

5.     Media’s portrayal of tween went adult (Seventeen features “immaculate dolls”)

When children are exposed to too much “adult” at too young of an age, they can go above and beyond what’s acceptable when they grow up.  They lose sight of what’s right and wrong because their moral compass wasn’t developed properly.  But it’s not their fault –  technology, society and the media have contributed to their premature development.  So what does this mean for brands, parents and marketers?

1. Talk to them 5-10 years above their actual age – Gen Z understands adult-speak and you’ll get more of their attention

2. Embrace and admire Gen Z for who the are and who they can become – hard workers, technical geniuses

3. Tap into their quest for honesty by discussing topics of interest on blogs, and meaning it

4. Relate your brand to topics Gen Z cares about:  causes,  global news, the environment, social media, start ups

5. Push tasteful clothing and promote good behavior, they’ll appreciate the guidance

Miley learned her lesson, as the media has not been kind to her disturbing performance.  And she taught Gen Z a good lesson by demonstrating that raunchy does not rock. 

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