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Customer engagement strategists have a new challenge on their hands.
Just when everyone thought they’d figured out Millennials, one of the biggest and most influential demographics in the modern world, it turns out there’s a bigger, potentially more influential powerhouse in the making: Generation Z or Gen Z.
This year, the oldest of the Gen-Zers will be 23, which means in just a few short years, this cohort will be graduating college, starting families, and affecting buying trends across industries.
Even though they only make up about 26 percent of the American population, this group will make up close to 40 percent of the entire consumer population by 2020, making them a significant demographic for marketers.
And for marketers and engagement specialists who’d simply like to dump Gen-Zers with Millennials, it’s critical to note that these are two vastly different groups. For starters, Gen-Zers have shorter attention spans and often split their attention on social media across different platforms, making them harder to engage.
They are social activists, thrifty spenders, and easily get wary of brands, thanks to the tough financial times they grew up in.
Consequently, any business that hopes to remain in good standing with Gen-Zers must take note of some of these facts and learn how to engage with them.
Here are a few tips for businesses that want to boost their Gen Z engagement strategies.
The right social media platform for the right message
One of the biggest traits that set Gen-Zers from the rest is their propensity to use different social media platforms for different things. According to a study by Response Media, Gen-Zers will use Twitter and Facebook for news and information, share their lives in real-time via Snapchat, and take to Instagram to share their dreams and aspirations.
And all of this often occurs within seconds, with users jumping from one platform to another frequently throughout the day.
As such, your engagement strategy must include posts that quickly get to the point. Otherwise, your Gen Z consumer will quickly skim through, find nothing of value, and move on to the next post. Messages should also be
Embrace technology to create personalized, authentic experiences
Last year, an Accenture report found that at least 77 percent of Gen-Zers still prefer shopping in-person at physical stores. This means that retailers cannot afford to ignore offline experiences, especially in a digital world ruled by social media, email, ecommerce, shopping apps, and other digital channels.
Consequently, it’s important for both online stores and brick-and-mortar establishments to embrace the best of both worlds.
For physical establishments with an online presence, disruptive technologies such as augmented reality and virtual reality can help to create an enhanced online experience. For instance, real estate managers and marketers can use simple VR or AR platforms and apps to reach out to and interact with potential Gen Z renters.
Make Gen-Zers part of the process
Unlike previous generations, Gen-Zers love being hands on. They don’t just want to read about a new product or service or a new blog post. They want to help create the message, try that new product or service before it hits the market, and recreate the experience a million times over.
Gen-Zers who take an active role in creating your marketing message or trying out a product or service will be more responsive to your brand. For instance, clothing retailer Hollister uses a Snapchat geofilter to get real-time and real-life feedback on their products, connecting the brand directly with the Gen-Zers.
Lego Ideas, another company succeeding at reaching out to Gen-Zers, lets users submit ideas for Lego products, vote and comment on submissions by other users, eventually leading to completed products.
This participatory platform is much better than just placing ads in front of the Gen-Zer, something that other companies can emulate.
Promote Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)
If you’re among the companies that have been running away from CSR-related activities, your time’s up – at least if you hope to link up with Gen-Zers. Studies have indicated that members of this generation value income, gender and racial equality and often involve themselves in environmental issues, including campaigns against global warming.
Many of them also associate good value and fair pricing with social responsibility in the corporate world. Consequently, brands that promote these values via CSR or other strategies stand to reap huge rewards from Gen-Zers, mainly in the form of increased engagement and overall competitiveness in the near future.