What Marketers Need to Know to Reach Gen Z

Generation Z, those born from the mid-1990s through the 2000s, is about to become the largest generation, with an estimated $44 billion in purchasing power. According to Google, when you factor in the influence this generation has on parents and within household purchases, this purchasing power could be closer to $200 billion. As with any generation, what it takes to reach the newest shoppers is different from the strategies that worked with the previous generations, millennials in this case.

Gen Z’s defining characteristic: Fracture

While millennials were the bridge generation, possessing faint memories of a time before technology was everywhere, Gen Z is the first wholly digital native generation. As a rule, those in this group move quickly — which means they tend to be one step ahead of the brands that are trying to reach them. Brands that are still relying on blanket marketing campaigns or moving into influencer marketing may find these efforts wasted as Gen Z quickly finds new social spaces, new influencers and new online channels.

Even if blanket marketing methods may work for a while, in 10 to 15 years, brands will no longer be able to rely on those methods. As seen in the millennials first, Gen Z places a big priority on identity. Each member of the generation is a unique brand, something that should be unsurprising in a generation that’s grown up side-by-side with social media.

To reach this generation means setting aside the generic marketing campaigns, like the Super Bowl ads designed with mass appeal, and personalizing the message instead.

While this may seem daunting, consider that artificial intelligence, marketing clouds, and customer data platforms leverage the power of automation to get the personalized marketing messages that will be effective here.

Gen Z is surprisingly analogue

According to a study from Student Affinity Network UNiDAYS and Ad Age Studio 30, which looked at 23,000 college students in the United States, UK, Australia and New Zealand, Gen Z has a more complex relationship with technology than was previously supposed.

About 98% of Gen Zers own a smartphone, yet only 22% of survey respondents used it for online shopping. A Fluent Commerce survey found that roughly 25% of Gen Zers said they enjoyed browsing at brick-and-mortar stores. Direct-to-consumer brand Warby Parker actually backtracked into brick-and-mortar, opening close to 100 stores, when it realized that younger consumers placed a high value on the in-store experience.

Approximately 77% of survey respondents said they’d rather read a print book than an e-book, and 60% of Gen Zers either use streaming services on a television (instead of a laptop) or subscribe to cable television.

These analogue habits mean brands that have invested in digital only may be scrambling to reach young shoppers, who aren’t hanging out where companies thought they would. Consider that social media spending rose by 60% from 2016 to 2017, per Adweek. Web Strategies Inc. found that companies expect to allocate half their ad spend on digital campaigns by 2020. With such a significant investment in online advertising, and early findings indicating that Gen Z is markedly different from millennials, marketers must thoroughly evaluate fund allocation.

How to connect with (and convert) young consumers

Think of Gen Z not as one generation but as several small subgroups, each with its own characteristics.

  1. Vary messaging by target and channel.
    As you break your audience into subgroups, adjust your messaging accordingly. It should vary to engender the appropriate coversation in each channel that you leverage. For example, you should have different goals across social, email, in-app, podcasts, and TV – from engagement to transactional.
  2. Budget accordingly.
    Rather than evenly spreading your ad spend across every channel, focus on where your target audience hangs out. Visual social media is dominant among this generation, with Gen Zers enjoying YouTube and Snapchat over platforms such as Facebook, yet Gen Zers are also flocking to new platforms such as Houseparty, a group live chat app. Snapchat and Houseparty both have privacy in common, a value that’s important to Gen Zers.
  3. Stand for something.
    Young consumers want to know, like and trust a brand before they buy. Brands need to connect with them about more than the product. They need to develop a relationship and show that they are a good match, values-wise. Refine your message (if you haven’t already) for authenticity.
  4. Focus on them, not your company.
    Don’t forget about personalization. Remember, Gen Z has grown up with targeted advertisements through email and smartphone. People in this group expect all marketing to be personal in nature. In fact, 26% of Gen Zers told Google they expected retailers to take their preferences and shopping habits into account, for a more personalized shopping experience — a desire for just 22% of millennials and 11% of baby boomers. Consider why YouTube is so popular with Gen Zers: The video platform offers to give everyone a voice.
  5. Respect their privacy.
    Addressing privacy concerns is paramont with Generation Z given the widespread data breaches of current times. Less than 33% of Gen Zers feel comfortable sharing personal information with brands outside of purchase history and contact information. If they could feel confident their personal data was securely stored and protected – and not shared – this generation would feel comfortable sharing more.

Since these digital natives have grown up with online marketing, they’re perceptive to how it works. They know when they’re being advertised to, and they’re quick to skip ads and use ad blockers. The most adaptive brands keep pace with Gen Z with short, use messaging that put the customer first, and dovetail with the individuality and personalization craved by the youngest shoppers.

Categories Branding, MarketingTags , , ,

Five Marketing Myths

With the wealth of articles and how-to guides available online, it would seem that almost anyone with a modest budget could run a successful marketing campaign. Unfortunately, many of these resources repeat outdated—and sometimes just plain misguided—information. Familiarize yourself with these five marketing myths to make sure you avoid these common missteps.

  1. “Just make it pretty.”
    Visual aesthetics should enhance your marketing efforts, not define them. After all, you can design the world’s most beautiful advertisement—which may capture the attention of potential clients—but if you do not deliver clear information identifying the value of your products and services, customers will be quick to move on to competitors who can demonstrate these benefits.
  2. “We don’t need a marketing plan.”
    You wouldn’t drive blindfolded, would you? Launching a marketing campaign without a plan can be just as reckless. Too often, companies invest significant sums of money into campaigns that miss the mark. Perhaps they failed to reach their target demographic or did not realize that the competition was offering comparable products at a fraction of the cost. A solid marketing plan contains all the information you need to understand the factors affecting your business’s ability to operate effectively in the marketplace and to maximize ROI.
  3. “Let’s just build the product (or service) first.”
    If you build it, they will come. Or will they? Startups are prone to the misconception that all they need is a great idea and a consumer base will develop all on its own. Once again, we’re back to driving blind. Market research needs to happen before a product hits the production room floor. The alternative—assuming there is a market for your latest goods and that you already have an innate understanding of this market’s desires—can lead to disappointing returns.
  4. “Don’t waste time on messaging.  Let’s just get out there.”
    Your message is the bridge between your product and your customers. Without it, the two will have a hard time reaching each other. In inbound marketing, your message provides an opportunity to appeal to your target market’s particular wants and needs. It helps potential customers answer the question, “What’s in it for me?”
  5. “We have to include every feature and benefit in our materials.”
    Sometimes, less is more. Your customers are busy and already bombarded with a flood of advertisements. If you want to make a lasting impression, you’ll have to be clear and concise. Highlight only the most important features of your product or service. Design your sales pitch so it can be absorbed in a split-second. Chances are, that’s as much time as you’ll have to convince a prospective buyer. You can provide more information after you’ve generated the lead.
Categories Branding, MarketingTags , , , , , , , ,