15 May A New Brand of Consumer – 5 Tips for Marketing to Gen Z
The Millennial generation changed the marketing landscape. These tech-savvy kids were pioneers with their smartphones and tablets. They research products without the help of a salesperson, take advice from their peers across social media platforms and share their own experiences online. They continue to be an important demographic as they settle into careers and parenthood, but marketers need to adjust again for the next generation coming through.
Defining Gen Z
Generation Z, defined as those born between 1997 and 2015, make up 26% of the U.S. population, which makes them larger than the Millennial and the Baby Boomer generations. This is the most racially diverse group in the nation’s history. They are also highly educated with 59% of Gen Z high school graduates now enrolled in college. While Gen Z shares many attributes of the generation before them and exist, as Millennials do, in a hyperconnected environment, they are different in ways that will affect the effectiveness of marketing strategies targeting them.
The youngest of Gen Z are still in grade school, but researchers have begun to study this group, seeking insights into their values and behaviors. This generation grew up in households with many screens — Televisions, laptops, desktops, tablets, and smartphones — continually bombarding them with information, and they have learned to automatically filter out irrelevant messages. As children of the Great Recession, they are skeptical of marketing messages and careful with their spending. They are influenced by their peers more than by celebrity spokespeople and social responsibility is a key characteristic they seek in brands. What does this mean for Gen Z marketing?
Reach Gen Z with Compelling Content
Gen Z consumers are skilled multi-taskers who have no difficulty instant messaging while simultaneously streaming a movie and checking social media updates. The competition for their attention is fierce. They do not have time to explore everything that passes through their space. You must engage them within a few seconds or their well-developed filters will have them moving on. They have the ability to focus on something they consider worthwhile; it is the marketers’ job to convince them the message will be useful. Videos, images, and headlines must spark interest or evoke emotion at the start, but Gen Z is skilled at identifying click-bait and won’t tolerate over-the-top claims and headlines that don’t deliver what is promised.
Find Them Where They Live
Identify the social media platforms most popular with your target market and become an expert on the type of content that resonates with the users there. You must know your audience well enough to incorporate their language into the voice of your brand. Each social media platform has a different strength. Instagram is all about images; YouTube is the go-to spot for DIY tutorials. Develop a content strategy to take advantage of these strengths.
“Real” People Have More Influence Than Celebrities
Gen Z skepticism means celebrities with several hundred thousand followers are not personal enough to be trusted. Social media influencers that have a smaller, but better-defined following serve better as product endorsers. Follow-back fans of your products and you will discover whom they trust. Establishing a relationship with these influencers will add credibility to your message. Encourage user-generated content through surveys, contests and active commenting. This type of endorsement is invaluable to a generation that seeks out peer reviews to inform their buying decisions.
Create a Smooth User Experience
This generation grew up with On Demand TV programming and live streaming. They expect to get what they want, when they want it, and they require a smooth transition between devices, platforms, and visits to brick- and- mortar stores. Users that find your message on social media need an easy way – on their smartphones – to load a webpage with more information and reach a landing page with an offer. To provide a seamless experience, synchronize shopping carts, integrate POS and mobile app inventory systems, and be sure NAP (name, address, phone number) information appears in a prominent spot on all web properties to facilitate store visits.
Brand with Purpose
Shifts in the political environment worldwide have brought levels of activism that have not been seen in decades. Gen Z has grown up alongside marches and movements that demand fairness, justice, and environmental guardianship. For Gen Z, these messages translate into the need to support brands that have a purpose beyond profit. This may be a clothing store donating winter coats to a homeless shelter or a beverage company providing bottled water to hurricane victims. Be creative. A New York winery runs a “Drink Pink” campaign each October to align with National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The business hosts many events in its tasting room, culminating with a walkathon, to raise money for cancer research. For this socially aware generation, the age of hyperconnectivity means a caring connection and they will patronize brands that support this ideal.
The economic instability of the Great Recession has made Gen Z practical shoppers. They are not concerned with the prestige of a designer name. They seek quality at a fair price. Offer a good value, fine-tune your omnichannel marketing efforts, and be authentic (they know how to Photoshop and won’t be impressed with airbrushed models) to reach your next generation of customers.