Anyone who has ever disagreed with a parent or grandparent over whether something is “tasteful” or “unnecessary” knows: not every generation has the same likes and dislikes. What might be a “noisy racket” to some is the soundtrack to another generation. Visual arts, music, movies, even recipes appeal to different generations, so why shouldn’t your marketing campaigns?
Targeting New Generations
We are on the cusp of a new generation joining the prospective customer base. Generation Z is now entering the workforce, bringing their own tastes along with their paychecks and buying power.
But how does a smart business owner work to reach out to this new generation of customers? Is there a magic formula of what works and what doesn’t work?
Market researchers have examined the early spending habits of Generation Z, and come to a few conclusions as to how business owners can develop best practices for marketing to Generation Z.
What Makes Gen Z Different?
First, it’s important to understand who “Gen Z” is. While Gen Z isn’t as clearly defined as other generations, such as the Baby Boomers, or Generation X, extensive market research has narrowed their identity down to those born from the mid-to-late 1990s to the early 2000s. Additionally, this population currently makes up about 40% of the overall market.
The timing of Gen Z is incredibly important. They are the first generation that has lived in a strictly technological world. They have likely had a cellphone in their hand their entire lives, and may not have memories of a world before smartphones.
Social media has always been a part of their lives. Not only are they incredibly tech savvy, but their constant exposure to an endless stream of information their entire lives has led them to be able to process data very quickly. They have a very limited attention span, and very direct expectations.
In order to market to Gen Z, a business owner will need to know how to connect with them quickly and meaningfully.
How to Connect with Generation Z Via Technology
Unlike previous generations, Gen Z is extremely comfortable with the idea of using their smartphones for every facet of their lives.
Right off the bat, that means that developing a smartphone/mobile device optimized website is crucial. From the links in your emails to the ads you place on social media, make sure Gen Z can read and interact with your site accurately from any device.
Additionally, Gen Z has an amazing ability to operate several apps simultaneously, flipping from one screen to another without the learning curve that older generations have had to experience.
That often translates into less scrolling and interaction, which can be detrimental to a business who places the most important information about their product or service at the bottom of a screen.
The Psychological Strategy of Marketing to Generation Z
Since they understand the power of online research, Gen Z often turns to the internet for the information they need.
They are equally comfortable taking courses online as they are navigating multiple search engines. Videos, lessons, and interactive content that allows them to ask questions and get answers is extremely meaningful to them.
Applying the standard rules of the sales funnel to Generation Z might be difficult, as they tend to make decisions quickly. Instead of treating Gen Z to your brand’s experience, it is much more meaningful to them if you provide direct information that addresses their concerns without fluff.
Individualized attention, interactions that have a clear payoff for their efforts, and easily identifiable benefits will gain far more attention from members of Gen Z than catchy slogans, eye-catching graphics, and lengthy demonstration videos.
The Social Elements of Generation Z Marketing
Generation Z has also never known a time when they haven’t been able to share their opinion via the internet. Therefore, they’ll want to not only read customer testimony, but share it, as well.
They’ve seen enough online scams to have guarded interest in a new brand. They’ll read comments on social media, and ask questions to clarify if they see something relevant to their buying habits.
The members of Generation Z are also very invested in social responsibility. They are more involved in environmental, political, and social issues, and will feel a closer relationship to brands that support similar values or endeavors.
At the same time, they have demonstrated that they are business savvy themselves, and with their knowledge and technical expertise, can quickly sniff out a bad deal or a shady business.
Challenges to Marketing to Generation Z
So how do you attract customers from Generation Z? The best practice is authenticity in all aspects of marketing. That means less focus on choosing the perfect graphics, and more focus on sharing true customer testimonial. That means saving the lengthy demonstration video for after the purchase, and starting out with short social media videos that blast the basics.
That also means ensuring your brand values are reflected in everything you do, from content, to packaging, and beyond.
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If your brand indicates it values the environment, yet ships products in layers of non-recyclable plastic, this undermines your brand’s authenticity. If you claim to be inclusive, yet require expensive software to use your services, that challenges the integrity of the claim.
In many ways, social media is ideal for marketing to Generation Z, because it is highly interactive and allows for greater transparency. Gen Z is familiar with Snapchat, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram equally, and will take the time to investigate all resources, if your brand catches their attention.
As much as they use these resources to provide them with information, they will also use them to share their own feedback. You may find less-than-favorable opinions expressed by members of Gen Z on these outlets, so the manner in which you handle their complaints and concerns will greatly impact their future interactions, as well.
As with every generation, the latest entry into the buying market, Gen Z, has their own preferences and frame of reference.
By tapping into an understanding of what makes this generation tick, business owners can be better armed when creating meaningful marketing campaigns that attract, and retain, this large segment of the population.