What You Need to Know About Engaging Gen Z
Ahhhh… Gen Z. Poised to become the most populous generation by the end of 2019, the purpose-driven and ultra-discerning younger sister of the millennial demographic is the event marketer’s new go-to target—and it’s unlike any generation that has come before it. Members of Gen Z are digitally native, cord-cutting consumers who would rather become part of a brand narrative than have it advertised to them. And, even more so than millennials, Gen Z wants to know what a company stands for, and more importantly, what action it takes to support those beliefs.
Perhaps most noteworthy is the value the generation places on peer-to-peer marketing, making influencer strategies paramount for brands hoping to make genuine connections with the demo. Navigating the generation can be complex, but the following tips will give you the jumpstart you need to start crafting an effective strategy.
Embrace New Technology
Seemingly beginning to text before even learning how to walk? Sounds like Gen Z! Technology is in their DNA. For brands, that makes embracing “new and now” tech a key component of engaging the demo, particularly when it comes to demonstrating a company’s vision for the future. The stats: More than three-quarters of Gen Z believe internet authentication will eventually happen via biometrics, 63 percent believe individuals will have their own, personal digital AI assistant (think: Alexa and Siri), and 78 percent think all digital experiences will have artificial intelligence capabilities. And if the demo believes this is where the future is going, you can bet your bottom dollar they not only desire tech-forward experiences from brands, but will come to expect them.
By regularly experimenting with new forms of technology, brands can ensure they’re able to live up to those expectations.(Bonus tip: As much as Gen Z loves its tech, the demo also craves periodic opportunities to unplug, so keep a healthy balance in mind.)
Align with a Cause
Millennials may have been the ones to help usher in the next era of cause marketing by favoring socially active brands, but Gen Z continues to up the ante, all but requiring that the companies they purchase from align with a cause (or five) that they care about. In fact, 56 percent of Gen Z-ers consider themselves to be socially conscious and more than 50 percent report that knowing a brand is socially conscious influences their purchasing decisions. From climate change to human rights, members of Gen Z are opinionated, and prefer brands that support their views.
Implement Storyliving Tactics
As an event marketer, you know all about storytelling. But when it comes to connecting with Gen Z, the name of the game is storyliving. The concept entails a modern version of storytelling in which a company allows consumers to experience their brand narrative, rather than simply learn about why a brand embraces a particular ethos. To make it happen, brands need to have a dialogue with consumers, rather than talk at them, finding out what drives the demo and how it connects to their own brand story, then bringing it to life through live experiences. Offering Gen Z value-driven experiences while showcasing your company’s narrative is the sweet spot.
Incorporate Inclusive Messaging
Gen Z is a diverse demographic in every way imaginable, making inclusivity absolutely paramount to connecting with the demo on an emotional level. Supporting, (or better yet, advocating for,) minority groups like the LGBTQ community and immigrants through brand messaging will go a long way with this group. Sixty-one percent of Gen Z-ers, for example, are more likely to buy from brands that have representatives who are diverse rather than ones who look like them. But they are also 62% more likely to buy from brands that have representatives they aspire to be like, rather than spokespeople their own age. As Inc. puts it, “What this boils down to is that marketing to this generation needs to be genuine, honest, and aspirational without being exclusionary or pretentious.”
When you boil it down, members of Gen Z want one thing out of every experience they have with a brand: authenticity. Even more than millennials, this audience automatically tunes out marketing ploys and sees right through brand gimmicks. To succeed with Gen Z, brand engagement strategies need to be perceptive, subdued and real.