In our endless attempts to target Millennials, craft breakthrough and authentic messages for them, and enlist them as brand advocates, marketers might be on a path to neglecting the upcoming generation, already well on its way to becoming the new Millennials: Generation Z.
We can no longer ignore Gen Z. In no time at all, this generation will be one of the largest consumer groups, and if we don’t start preparing now, marketers will be scrambling to understand their wants and needs and identify the messaging that speaks to them.
While many members of Gen Z are still pretty young and absent from direct consumer behavior, the older members of this generation have already started exhibiting behavior we can use to prepare for them.
Preparing for the Next Generation
Figuring out Gen Z — and how to get your brand at the top of their minds — is really no different from any other time you’ve targeted a new demographic or included a new segment in your audience. You’ve been in this position before, but perhaps this new generation is still unfamiliar.
I attribute this to the fact that new generations coming of buying age means we marketers are getting older. We’re typically further removed from each new generation, which is more plugged in and tech-savvy than any before it.
Don’t let these characteristics deter you. You’ve targeted new demographics before; you just need to know who this new generation is. Here are three steps to help you begin forming relationships with members of Generation Z — and targeting them as future consumers:
1. Get to know them.
This should be a given. You have to know who you’re dealing with before you attempt to speak their language. Otherwise, you will end up like this:
Don’t assume that because Generation Z and Millennials are both native to technology that they’re exactly alike.How Gen Z is different from Millennials:
- They have always had the internet.
- The recession played a big part in their lives, making them more money-conscious.
- Eighty-nine percent of them are optimistic about their financial future.
- They’re just as, if not more, tech-savvy.
- They love social media.
- They don’t trust brands and harbor anti-establishment sentiments.
These key behaviors and characteristics should give you a jumping-off point to help you understand the members of this generation, what they’re looking for, how you can target them, and what your brand needs to offer to stand out.
2. Adjust your social media strategy accordingly.
The members of this generation have never lived without the internet, and if pop culture is any indication, they’ve probably used mobile devices since a very young age (which is a bit horrifying). This generation knows a thing or two about social, and this represents a huge opportunity for marketers.
Due to the influx of users, social platforms are changing and adjusting their features to accommodate the needs of users and marketers alike. You already know you should be where your audience members are; if they’re on social, that’s where you need to be, too. While you’re there, you might as well study and test new strategies and platforms that get your brand in front of this new generation.
Determine which platforms Generation Z uses most frequently, and formulate a strategy that includes those platforms. Perhaps you need to devote more time to Instagram. Maybe a game plan for Snapchat will give you the chance to connect with your audience. Or maybe this audience is more trusting of influencers, and an investment in influencer marketing is your best shot. Whatever it is, test and adjust your social strategy accordingly.
3. Send better emails.
As the first mobile-native generation, Gen Z understands and expects mobile-optimized communication — and the right emails could be the way your brand delivers on those expectations. You may be thinking, “OK, that’s easy enough.” But just because most marketers already send emails to their lists doesn’t mean they have this step covered.
You have to constantly ask yourself how you can send more effective emails that Generation Z wants to open, read, and click through to your site. Members of Gen Z want to see your emails because they like technology, and they like communication through that technology. You have their attention; you just have to keep it.
I hope you find these tips useful as you strategize ways to target this up-and-coming generation of buyers. Remember that some members of Generation Z are too young to hold much direct buying power, and as they grow, their behavior and actions may change. But that’s what marketing is all about: finding ways to anticipate, adapt to, and influence behavior.