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I’ve spent much of the last seven years helping companies adapt to demographic shifts as baby boomers began retiring and Gen X and millennials became the primary focus of marketers. But in demography, as in marketing, change is the only constant. And today a new generation — 86 million strong and with money to spend — is beginning to enter the workforce. It’s Generation Z (loosely defined as those born in the 1990s and 2000s), and it’s their turn to shape marketing’s future.

What can forward-looking app marketers learn from Gen Z? One natural place to look is online dating trends. The dating industry is never far from the fingertips of a young generation that uses tech in every aspect of their lives. So we conducted a study with Qualtrics Research to better understand how Gen Z adults (18- to 24-year-olds) make one of the most personal decisions — who to date. And the insights we discovered should make any marketer want to swipe right.

Video drives awareness

As anyone who regularly visits the Play store or App store knows, competition is fierce among apps. So to succeed with an app, you have to drive awareness before intent develops. And guess where 41% of 18- to 24-year-olds learn about dating apps? Through online video sites. That’s over 57% more than 25- to 34-year-olds, highlighting just how different Gen Z’s digital behavior is from earlier generations.1

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Whether it’s deciding on the perfect place for an intimate dinner or what to wear on a second date, video is where Gen Z is likely to go first to learn. In fact, 80% of teens turn to YouTube to become more knowledgeable.2 This creates an opportunity for marketers looking to connect with Gen Z to drive awareness that creates intent through video creation and distribution.

The future is borderless and diverse

For Generation Z, variety really is the spice of life. They’ve come of age exploring the world with street view, online video, virtual reality, and other tools that can transport them around the world in the blink of an eye. Gen Z is also the most racially and ethnically diverse cohort we’ve seen, according to Pew. Not surprisingly, Gen Z is comfortable with diversity of all kinds, including geographic diversity. Sixty-four percent of 18- to 24-year-olds say that dating websites and apps allow them to be more diverse in who they date, and 65% say that dating websites and apps allow them to date someone outside of where they live.3

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Diversity, travel-related, and cross-cultural themes are important considerations for app marketers who want to reach Gen Z. Showcasing diversity in brand marketing is key, as is promoting products using creative that reflects the diversity of people and places your products will reach.  

Virtual dating is the new normal

For a generation that has never used a landline and that’s had smartphones in hand as early as age 9, conversation, for the most part, is digital. An example from how Gen Z engages in dating: video calls or texts are key forms of communication. Over half (51%) of those between 18 and 24 say video and virtual dating is important. And for 21% of Gen Z, a texting conversation can even count as a date.4

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App marketers interested in starting a relationship with Gen Z should consider incorporating digital communication and collaboration tools as well as virtual technologies into their products.

Gen Z is the generation that will shape the market for decades to come. By understanding how the next generation learns, sees the world, and communicates, marketers can grow their share of brand voice and set the stage for success in the future.