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Engaging the Next Generation: a Gen Z Perspective

In this post, our marketing intern, Harriet, discusses ways brands can better engage with the next generation of empowered consumers – Generation Z.

Centennials – otherwise known as Gen Z – are exceeding Millennials. Research has shown that this generation will account for 32% of the global population this year. So the question is – are you ready to engage with them?

This new generation have a thirst for success. In general, they are known to be conscientious individuals, with research showing that 1 in 2 Centennials will have university degrees (compared to 1 in 3 millennials).

As a Gen Z myself, I can attest to this. My peers are vigilant – always looking for a better deal, but not wanting to sacrifice on quality either. This means earning our loyalty can be challenging – but it doesn’t have to be, if you know the right way to engage.

Below, I’ve highlighted some of the specific problems my generation faces, as well as ways brands can improve their tactics to address these needs and engage with us more effectively.

Stop spamming Gen Z

Now, I am not suggesting that sending an email is bad – but too many emails can start to get rather irritating. It’s a bit like the English idiom to cry wolf: if you are continually sending us emails, it won’t be long until we start to lose interest and place your brand in our junk mail or even unsubscribe. Then, when you do send us vital (or relevant) information, we won’t be paying attention.

Research has shown that Gen Z have an average attention span of 8 seconds. This is why your subject line is so important. As mentioned previously, we are always looking for a better deal. Including incentives for us to click can really make a difference – things like discounts, sales, free delivery, etc.

But what if this is something you can’t always afford?

Personalised emails definitely catch our attention. However, a pet peeve for a lot of Centennials is when brands just put our name and havent seen you for a while… Without any further personalisation, it can feel insincere.

Instead, give us a bit of guidance – show us things that you know we will be interested in based on our previous purchases or other information we’ve given you.

As shown here, Groupon have used my recent purchases to recommend other services on their website. This is so convenient because it saves me time scrolling down their website hoping to find something that interests me. With a simple click of a button, it could be my next purchase.

As already mentioned, these emails don’t have to be constant because let’s be honest most of our time is now spent on social media.

Our phones = our lives

An advantage with targeting Gen Z is we are all on the same platform at the same time. Use this to your advantage!

Mobile marketing should be your main platform. This means that everything you produce needs to be shown perfectly on our mobiles.

A great way of getting us to see your content is through sponsored posts as they will appear on our social media without us having to do anything.

But how do you get your ad to stand out from the rest?

Research has shown that Gen Z watch twice as many videos on their mobile than anywhere else, so making it exciting enough for us to stop scrolling down our feed is really important. From a Centennial standpoint, use plenty of colour, make it aspirational and promote a positive aspect in your marketing. Give us a reason to stay loyal to you by following you on social media and interacting with your posts.

Personalisation in your posts can really help connect with us. This can be so simple – even using a direct pronouns like ‘you’ or ‘we’ or rhetorical questions can make a big difference in how we might perceive your brand.

Timing is key

For us to see what you have posted, it is important to post it at a time when we’ll be mostly active. Understandably this varies around the world, but identifying your target audience and when they are most active online is really important.

Let’s take university students as an example. According to UCAS, a total of 411,860 applicants were on undergraduate courses in the UK in 2018. With this figure increasing, it’s important to tackle this generation to see results within your loyalty programmes.

An important characteristic of university students is that they aren’t typically early risers. Especially when student nights are mid-week and their lectures might not start until midday, there is not a chance of seeing them before at least 10. So when is the best time to engage with them?

Again, this is extremely subjective but from a personal standpoint, our phones are the first thing we think about when we wake up and the last thing we think about before we go to bed. This can be a prime time to get in front of us with engaging content.

Give us a reason to be loyal

After reading this, you are probably thinking… how on earth do loyalty programmes work for Gen Zs? In fact, they can be really effective, if designed well.

Providing an emotional connection is really important and can give us a reason to be loyal. This can be something you know Gen Zs are currently struggling with, hot topics, etc. But how do you go about doing this?

Body positivity is a hot topic that is discussed all over social media – and it makes sense when you consider the number of unrealistic body images consistently on our feed.

The fashion industry has taken a step into moving away from this stigma with the help of brands, such as Asos. They have used body positivity in their campaigns to promote their products – providing clothing for all sizes. Taking a stand on an issue Gen Zs care about creates an emotional connection and is something we can all relate too.

Understandably this concept doesn’t apply to every company, but there are other ways you can engage with us on an emotional level.

Visual campaigns are a great way to engage with us. These have to be short, impactful videos that stir up an emotional . As mentioned previously, we don’t have a long attention span, so the first few seconds of your video is of paramount importance.

Give us a reason to be loyal. Give us more than a deal. Let’s look at Pretty Little Thing as an example. PLT are a fast fashion women’s wear brand that sell their clothing for ridiculously cheap prices, as well as providing ‘free next day delivery’ for £7.99 a year. This ‘buy into’ loyalty scheme has been so beneficial for PLT – it encourages us to continue to purchase through them as we have already paid the delivery fee up front. It also gives us a positive feeling towards the brand, by offering extra value and convenience.

It’s not unlike Amazon Prime, where the member pays up front to get access to services that other shoppers don’t. Prime’s perks cover much more than just free shipping, but the idea is the same across the board – provide continuous value, beyond the product itself.

Something Gen Zs love about free shipping schemes is that as well as offering great value for money, they’re extremely convenient. Your purchase comes the next day with minimal effort – what more could you want?

Adding value through personalisation

You’ll probably have noticed a common thread that runs through all of these recommendations: personalisation.

Personalisation adds extra value to the relationship, beyond just a discount, and keeps us feeling loyal.

Whether it’s personalizing the promotions we see, tailoring the timing of your communications or creating an emotional connection through relevant social engagement… It’s important to give Gen Zs a good reason to be loyal – one that feels tailored to us.

Provided below are a few key points to summarise what has been discussed:

  • Avoid over-interacting, especially with irrelevant messages
  • Make sure your ad stands out with personalized offers
  • Engage with your audience at the right time
  • Find ways to add additional value to the relationship

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