Loosely defined as the children born between 1996 and 2015, Generation Z is the product of its parents, Generation X, and its sibling generation, the Millennials. Generation Z is the most diverse group of babies born in America yet reflective of the declining white majority in the populace. Along with the diversity of racial and ethnic heritage, we also see that Gen Z has an interesting combination of new school digital prowess and old-school fiscal conservatism associated with historic generations. They don’t remember a world without the internet (a startling fact), and they owned mobile phones at much younger ages than the previous generation.
An extension of their coming of age in the era of the internet is their addiction, in common with other generations, for spending their free time online. But more important is how they use the internet. Gen Z’s emerging adults eschew what they see as the exhibitionism and permanence of platforms like Facebook and Twitter, for media like SnapChat, where their most private thoughts and photos disappear after outliving their usefulness.
Whereas others may prize a customer experience, Gen Zers cut straight to the value. If you want to sell to them, you must convey value in every way possible. Value their time and their opinions as buyers by giving them mobile sites that are easy to access, navigate, customize, and personalize to their needs. Furthermore, your products and services must exist authentically to solve problems and meet the challenges they face. It’s not about you–create value, and you’ll breed much greater loyalty than any card program.
So if you’re going to reach this generation effectively, you should stick to the following tactics:
- Mobile first: the mobile experience demands that we develop sites and apps that are simple, fast, and easy to use, and mobile is where Gen Z lives much of their lives.
- Video, video, and more video: The easiest way to communicate value is through speaking directly to your audience and showing them how to use products and services efficiently and effectively. Thus, video is king.
- Sell it online: If you have brick-and-mortar, great (for your other intergenerational customers). Just don’t expect to get Gen Z away from their screens. Create an online store for them to procure your goods, and do it now.
- Value: Sell products and services that actually change the game for Gen Z, and have processes and frameworks for them to give their input along the way to delivery. There’s no easier way to communicate value than by letting your customer be a part of the creation of what they’re buying. If you help Gen Z make solid investments and avoid profligate spending, they will be customers for life.
- Respect their privacy: Everything for the Millennials has been driven by social media, with plug-ins, targeted ads, and crowdsourcing. In contrast, be direct with Gen Z without being invasive.
I have to say that as a business leader, I like what I’m seeing from Generation Z. This group is plainly communicating what they want, through their habits and preferences in the marketplace. While some of these traits are inherent (other generations weren’t born into a digital world), others have developed through living their lives, based on their own values and their reactions to the Millennial experience with many of the same tools and platforms. In fact, they have abandoned many of the platforms they believe have been abused by Millennials, leaving, in some ways, a less complicated engagement landscape.
I’ll watch with interest as this group of teens and young adults continues to develop and hit milestones like marriage, home ownership, and raising children, seeing how these seasons of their lives shape this new generation.