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In the age of social media, capturing the attention of Generation Z is proving harder with an average span of 8 seconds to make it count. What does this mean for the future of brands and their marketing strategies?

Generation Z: reared with the evolution of the internet and its greatest offspring, social media. It’s hard to imagine life without the cultural powerhouse that is Instagram. What began as an app, it now exists as an instinctive mandate, somewhat integral in our daily lives. A quick scroll somehow returns a feeling of satisfaction, a moment of meditation amidst the chaos of the working day, or for some, their digital debriefing before bed. 

Running out of Time

For a generation so symbiotically linked with triumph, the normality of our digital age has altered the meaning of time itself, and the value of it. So much so, that the attention span of such individuals in this age group – a demographic contentiously debated but around those born between 1997 and 2015 – has decreased to a scarce 8 seconds.

Credit: Zoe Holling

So what does this mean for the hands of the ticking clock other than it must, somehow, work harder? The language of a technologically-literate cohort demands image-dominated media, often through memes, GIFs, and with the turn of the next decade, TikTok. Through video-centric methods, the social revolution of visual marketing demands less eye-time from each user, searching for instant gratification for a generation consumed by humour, and more notably, satire.

The Power of Audio Advertising

But it’s not all downhill from here. Despite the dwindling timeframes, digital savviness is certainly in no deficit. It might sound sparse, but a lot can happen in 8 seconds. You can tie a shoelace, fold a t-shirt, pop a cork, insert your card and type in your pin, and even go 0-60mph in a Ford Escort. In such a short time frame, every second counts With the avalanche of content across Instagram and TikTok, how do you cut through the noise? By creating even more noise, through the power of music. Influenced by the value of audio, reports suggest that Gen Z are more likely to foster an emotional connection with digital based marketing through music.

Credit: Christos Berdesis

A fundamental in creating a TikTok or Instagram reel, instilling audio that’s punchy and relatable is the difference between unwanted content and viral recognition. The influence of these consumers, from their spending power to their voices online is shifting the marketing landscape so that now, more than ever, brands are tasked to modernise their media strategies and speak the universal language of sound.

With the advent of the internet and the access to so much information, the precedent for continuous learning prompts brands to be hitting two agendas at the same time: to entertain, and to teach, with the obligation to transform something marketable into something meaningful. Factor in the monotony of the past year which promised the sameness of each day and the loss of routine, our perception of each minute has never felt more precious. And while we can’t make time go faster, we can certainly make it mean more. It’s time to start making seconds matter, and it’s time to truly get to know Gen Z. 

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Scarlett is a writer, editor, and creative consultant specializing in art, fashion, culture and digital strategy. Drawing on her work from previous titles including Dazed, LOVE Magazine, The Perfect Magazine, AnOther and 1 Granary, as the Editor-in-Chief of The Next Hour, Scarlett is leading the editorial vision toward new territories providing an alternative lens of social commentary to recontextualize the world of watchmaking for the next generation.