A tech history of Gen Z: the digital generation

Gen Z, the youngest consumer demographic, has been surrounded by technology since birth, and their upbringing undoubtedly will impact marketers' approach in the future.

A tech history of Gen Z: the digital generation

The one thing most commonly associated with members of Generation Z is that they are digital natives, surrounded by powerful digital devices for as long as they can remember. Like millennials before, Gen Z is likely stuck with this moniker, and the world they are growing into will rely heavily on their natural affinity for technology.

Unlike older generations, Gen Z is still finding their footing in the world. In fact, if you consider Gen Z to have been born from the late 1990s until the early 2010s, not even half of the generation are adults yet. Aside from being digital natives, Gen Zers are exceptionally socially, healthy, and environmentally minded, which undoubtedly affects how they embrace digital platforms.

That said, marketers are starting to pay close attention to this seemingly enigmatic group, starting with their relationship with technology.

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Internet Browsers

While internet browsers have existed since 1990, it wasn’t until the early 2000s that newer and more streamlined versions appeared for consumers when Firefox and Safari joined the ranks of Internet Explorer.

The competitive relationship between Mozilla, Apple, and Microsoft, ushered in a new era, which ultimately gave structure to the internet through Web 2.0. Internet browsers channel and list webpages based on search terms using search engines, and without their continuing evolution, SEO and content marketing would not exist.

No generation yet, asides from Gen Z, has been able to fully grow up with internet browsers in such a powerful state. Such easy access to information, and pertinent awareness of online ads - that which didn’t exist during the previous iteration of the internet, undoubtedly has serious effects on digital marketing.

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The Apple Empire

At the turn of the century, Apple became a household name, and they continued to develop innovative products through the 2000s that stuck with Gen Z.

From 2000 to 2010, Apple released the first and many generations of the iPod, as well as the iPod Touch, iPad, Mac Book, and iPhone. Since the release of the iPad in 2010, no one can picture a young child without owning an iPad or Android tablet.

A 2019 Piper Sandler survey of Gen Z teens found that 86% of teens plan on getting an iPhone for their next smartphone upgrade. You can’t buy that kind of brand loyalty anywhere else. As Gen Z has matured, Apple has released relevant products, done effective consumer research to maintain Gen Z audiences, and developed the standard that Gen Z holds in that they need luxury technology.

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Social Media Stardom

Once Gen Z teens reach the age of 13, they become thrusted into this new digital world where they have the possibility of being social media sensations. From TikTok to Reddit to Twitter to Snapchat, Gen Z has found new ways to communicate, share common interests, reach out about social awareness and diversity, and become world famous.

The social media landscape for Gen Z is entirely different from the millennials’, despite many younger millennials being socialized with social media from an early age. New meme culture, etiquette rules through tone indicators, and the growing amount of social media use replacing free time spent on other activities are all recent developments by Gen Z that marketers should take special note of.

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Gaming Giants

Due to developing technology, the gaming industry has gone through many different iterations over the past 25 years.

From the new generation console wars between Nintendo, Microsoft, and Sony, to the continuing development of high-powered and specialized computer chips in computers, gaming capabilities have significantly increased. Nowadays, with VR, photorealistic graphics, and mass multiplayer battle royales, Gen Z, a group already enamored with gaming, is overwhelmed by this surfeit of choices.

Also notably is the success of online game-focused streaming platforms like Twitch. The competitiveness of gaming companies and their success in marketing to Gen Z at a younger age is all thanks to talented marketing firms and agencies.

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While video game media is a massive industry in its own right, marketers have successfully adapted ideas from gaming to target Gen Z audiences. Online quizzes, brand-sponsored games and skins, fast food toys, and in-game concerts are only some of the many ways marketers have used gaming to develop brand recognition.

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