It would be easy to assume that Gen Z, all those ‘kids’ who were born somewhere between 1995 and 2015, are an exaggerated version of Millenials, would it not?
After all, aren’t they also tech-savvy, with their eyes on a screen? Don’t they prefer brief interactions and demand instant gratification? While there certainly is an overlap, you should know that the same marketing tactics your company uses to reach Millennials might not prove to be the most effective with Gen Z.
Knowing that Gen Z is coming of age and entering the workforce (as well as your customer base), here are some tips on how your company can reach and resonate with Gen Z online.
1. Be straightforward – Gen Z sniffs out insincerity
Gen Z are digital natives, many of them born with a phone or tablet attached to their crib. They are used to processing information fast, aware of the advantages the digital world brings, and conscious of the 6 degrees of separation.
It should not come as a surprise that with Gen Z, more than any generation before it, honesty is the best policy. Today, due to the proliferation of social platforms and the high internet penetration rate in most countries, reports of your actions spread like wildfire. Doing a good deed will do wonders for your brand. Not practicing what you preach, however, will burn your credibility and leave a lasting mark on your reputation, especially with Gen Z.
Regardless of their bad rep, Gen Z are in fact, willing to listen, but also expect to be taken seriously and given credit where credit’s due. You don’t need to pretend to be the coolest kid on the block when reaching Gen Z; simply be open and brief – 140 characters and under 8 seconds brief.
2. Take a stand – don’t be afraid to lose your customer base
Gen Z has immense buying power. More than that, they have begun to shape the world’s view on certain topics. Take the example of singer Billie Eilish, who recently asked her 38 million Instagram followers to consider becoming vegan. The response has not only been overwhelming, but it has also shown the power that Gen Z holds.
Gen Z is not prone to be loyal to brands, yet they demand to see companies’ integrity. In fact, 89% of Gen Z would purchase goods from companies that support environmental and social issues over those that don’t.
While this may be terrifying to companies today, it also opens many doors. Use your online tools to channel the values your company stands for. Want to support environmental change? Create an initiative directed at improving the issue.
In recent years, Patagonia has done a tremendous job communicating how their company values align with the environmental policies for which Gen Z advocates. In 2017 they donated their tax returns to environmental nonprofit groups. Patagonia also offers repair service for worn clothing and an unlimited return policy on unworn clothing items.
Reuse and reduce policies best describe this generation. With student climate strikes happening around the world, calling for environmental change, it is clear this generation is not afraid to take a stand and ask companies, governments and all citizens to do the same. Think about where your values stand online and offline before you reach out to Gen Z.
3. Grab their attention
Just as it was with Millennials, forget about television and traditional media, since these are not the mediums Gen Z pays much attention to. Instead, turn to online platforms such as YouTube, Snapchat, Instagram to deliver quick, to-the-point messages. Go a step further and create engaging content rather than ads.
Beware of the new app and platform trends Gen Z is following. Keeping up to date will allow you to get ahead with the next big thing such as TikTok, allowing you to test your messaging and spread awareness.
Get in touch with influencers across all platforms, but seek those who are transparent, have an ‘honesty is the best policy’ stance, and can grab Gen Z’s attention in under 8 seconds. This generation loves influencers, as it makes them feel that they are connecting with real people, not giant corporations, and are more in control of the direction in which trends are going.
Turn to influencers in your industry that Gen Z respects and admires. Have them make the first step in bridging the gap between your company and Gen Z, but make sure you are always open for dialogue, actively pursuing their opinions, and capturing their attention with issues that matter to them. Make them a part of the conversation with your brand.
Gen Z might seem unapproachable at first, but they are not rebels for the sake of opposing authority (like some generations before them). They are even more digital-savvy than Millennials. They also shop more online. But, what has proven to be true over the past few years centers on Gen Z’s demand for transparency and sustainability across all industries. With Gen Z controlling and changing the rules of the game, highlighting the areas where you agree can only help you bridge the gap and maybe even win a round.