Just when you’ve got a handle on marketing to millennials, it’s time to target a new demographic: Generation Z. Variously defined as born after 1996 or after 2000, by 2020, Generation Z will account for one-third of the U.S. population and almost 40% of U.S. consumers.
While many millennials have early childhood memories of the analog age, Gen Z is the first generation to grow up in a totally digital world. What must you know to market to them?
Living life online: 45% of teens are online “almost constantly” and 44% are online multiple times a day, says Pew Research Institute. The most popular platform is YouTube (85% use it), followed by Instagram (72%) and Snapchat (69%). Tap into Gen Z’s passion for video with how-to, behind-the-scenes, or product videos.
Social selves: Gen Z consumers use social media to crowdsource information about products and get opinions from friends. However, they use the various social channels in different ways, according to Response Media: Instagram is for showing off their “aspirational selves,” Snapchat is for sharing “real-life moments,” and Twitter is where they get news.
Attention, please: 30%of Gen Z users abandon content after 5 seconds if it doesn’t deliver something of interest or value. This generation is constantly filtering a barrage of information. Get their attention with“snackable” information using visuals (memes, emojis, GIFs and videos) as the main focus and text as supporting information.
Under the influence: You don’t need to pay thousands of dollars for a celebrity influencer. Generation Z prefers “nano-influencers” (small-scale influencers with just a few thousand deeply engaged followers). Get new products into influencers’ hands and involve them in your marketing and events. Use tools like Audiense and SocialBook to find nano-influencers, or turn a passionate Gen Z customer into a nano-influencer for your brand.
Relationship goals: Engage with Generation Z on their level. Don’t talk down to them or at them. Use social media to ask questions, listen, learn more about them and become part of their world. So Gen Z can see what their peers think about your products, make user-generated content part of your social media presence. Get customers to post photos of themselves wearing or using your products. Ask for input about new products, brands to sell, or promotional ideas.
Honesty is the best policy: While millennials post carefully curated Instagram shots of their perfect avocado toast, Gen Zers are more likely to portray themselves realistically, flaws and all, on social media. They want you to be honest, too. Tell the story of your business and share yourself and your employees as the face of your business to create a personal relationship.
All are welcome here: The most ethnically diverse generation ever (according to Pew, nearly half are racial or ethnic minorities), Gen Z is also more fluid and accepting regarding gender and sexuality (35% know someone who uses gender-neutral pronouns). Show a wide range of people in your marketing messages, make sure your marketing is inclusive, and make all customers feel welcome in your space.
Traditional values: Growing up in the Great Recession, Gen Zers have a conservative attitude toward money that’s reflected in their passion for deals. The number-one reason they sign up for marketing messages is to get discounts and offers (and yes, they actually open their emails.) Provide value so they can feel their hard-earned money is being well spent.
Make it simple: Your digital marketing and sales strategy must be mobile first since that’s where Generation Z is most likely to engage. Make sure your marketing messages, offers, and customer experience are consistent across all your digital channels. Gen Z should be able to do anything, from browsing your products to placing an order, on a smartphone with one hand.
About Rieva Lesonsky
Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.
Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.
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