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by Jennifer Grace for Print Media Centr

Last month I wrote a letter to marketers about Millennials about how we are affected by print (If you missed it, you can catch the link at the end of this article). Right now I’d like to address another generation for a moment. This generation is by no means a lost generation. They are, however, the most perplexing. Let me explain.

How often are you around kids? How often do you see them without an electronic device in their hands? It’s embarrassing to admit that kids today know more about technology than we do. Let’s face the facts; these kids have grown up in a world where technology as we know it has always existed. They do not know a world without GPS’s and cell phones, and rarely do they consider that the world was a very different place not that long ago. These kids are our future and if we want to keep print alive; we need to learn how to reach them. If you haven’t figured it out already, I’m talking about Generation Z. Although, they are by no means the lost generation, print very easily could be lost among the many devices that have found their way into their little hands.

What do we really know about Generation Z and how can we ensure they will grow into adulthood loving print as much as the generations that came before? We know that they like to interact, create, and collaborate. That is the best way to reach them through print. It is important that we work hard now and target them. Not just as consumers so they will buy products, but so they will develop an intimate relationship with print and in turn carry it into the future. They are, after all, our future. Consider these few options to reach Generation Z through print:

Personalize: Personalization is not a new concept. Marketers have been embracing the power of personalization for years now. The kids from Gen Z are years ahead of the rest of us on Social Media Platforms. They have spent hours on Instagram and Twitter. Personalization is where its at and for them it’s an absolute necessity for self expression. With this generation it is important to think outside of the box. So think Personal Interactivity. What is the most personal object for Gen Z? Well, what is their favorite electronic device? That’s their favorite object. If you want to reach them you need to somehow incorporate their beloved technology. How cool would it be to scan a textbook to unlock videos and sounds? Why not make a printed textbook like an online encyclopedia whereby the children can choose to view information most interesting to them? Why not listen to birds chirp when you scan your Audubon Society Bird Guide? Reading about Columbus? Watch a video clip of his life. Some people may think what’s the point? Why not just bring it all online? The answer is simple, humans of any generation learn best through multi-channels.

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Interact & Engage: Interacting and engaging with this generation is imperative. These are master multi-taskers and they’ve pretty much sean it all. If you want to succeed with them then you must understand them. They live it two worlds. They must be engaged both in the digital and the real world realms. Not only that, but they need to be actively involved in both places in order to really be present in them. Consider, creating interactive games, quizzes, puzzles that require the use of both digital and print.

Collaborate & Create: Not only do these kids like to create their own world, but they dig collaboration. They are all part of a larger social picture and they understand this better than any generation before. So here is an idea. Once again, using a combination of print and digital, why not bring their creative and collaborative nature alive in the classroom or at home. Learning about Paris? Now you can build the Eiffel Tower in your living room. Many of these things are possible with the use of Augmented Reality (stay tuned for more on this topic next month).

Just because engaging our newest generation with print is different it doesn’t mean there’s no place for it. We just need to understand them a little better. If we do this, print will always have a place in this society.

What do you think? Is it really so important to keep print alive among this Generation?

Feel free to share your thoughts! And if you missed the mentioned letter from a Millennial, you can read it NOW.