Generation Z are the first true digital natives, meaning they have only ever known the world with Internet Access, social media, and smart phones. Born between late 1990’s and mid-2000’s, this tech-savvy and pragmatic generation is redefining the way we consume media and there are some invaluable lessons businesses and marketers can learn from them when it comes to building better customer relations.
Like, follow, read, repeat
In an era of massive information (and advertising) overload, the brand-consumer relationship has become like a waltz. One misstep and a disgruntled customer will gladly find a new supplier (and post about their experience online for the rest of the world to see). Thanks to a mobile-first, visually rich, social and digital world, people expect flexibility, authenticity, and consistency in every single interaction with a brand.
In an ever-growing mobile-first, visually rich, social and digital world, customers (and prospective customers) expect flexibility, authenticity, and consistency in every single interaction with a brand. This requires of marketers to be deliberate in ALL their interactions, both in the real world and the online world. Here are some valuable things learned from Gen Z that every marketer should remember:
The customer experience is a complex network of platforms, apps, social media and other media, meaning that only the brands that stand out will be seen and heard above the noise. What this means is that aesthetics count!
There should be a seamless, uniform and recognisable ‘theme’ and experience between all a business’s media platforms. For example, if your website and your Facebook page have a completely different look, feel and sound from one another it’s going to make the viewer confused and likely to click-off. Nearly a quarter of Gen Z’s say the top reason for disowning a brand or product is a poorly designed experience.
Your best customers are those who will advocate your brand and influence others to use your product or service. These people are gold and probably know your business better than you do in some ways. Consider them your most expert consultants and use their enthusiasm to your advantage. Growing up in a constantly connected world, many Gen Z’s create branded content and write genuine reviews as a matter of course. If you offer guidance or avenues for them to do this (e.g. contests, giveaways, partnerships, and reviewers) they will spread your message and you will still have some degree of control. It’s like trying to chase a horse or ride one – they’re going to run anyway but at least you can control the direction they go!
Whilst more traditional forms of marketing are not going anywhere anytime soon, a more free-form and collaborative approach to marketing featuring “user-generated content” (UGC) is certainly on the rise. This could otherwise be referred to as ‘earned content’ and is likely to have a much greater ROI than getting likes and follows. In fact, 53% of consumers say they are more likely to buy a product after seeing it featured in an image provided by a real customer. Written reviews are also highly invaluable, and are the second most trusted source to recommendations from friends or family.
Establishing a presence in messaging apps allows you to reach your customers in an increasingly personalized, and relevant way and become a part of the conversations they’re already having. It is estimated that 1 million teens are leaving Facebook each year in favour of messaging apps, and in terms of size and active monthly users they are the fastest growing online space. Messaging apps, unlike other forms of marketing offer two-way communication so think of it less like a megaphone to broadcast information but a means of a hyper-personal and relevant outreach that people can interact with.
No this doesn’t mean be creepy, but businesses can no longer use a one-size-fits-all approach to marketing. 77% of Gen Z’s state it is important for brands to reach out with relevant offers, promotions and messaging, and honestly, with the amount of customer data available on almost every online platform, there is no excuse not to be. This also means continually measuring, evaluating and readjusting, recognising that customers are on a journey and they should be met where they are at. You can’t treat a new customer like the one you’ve had for years and visa versa. The most successful brands will be those who are flexible and can constantly reconfigure and adapt to their customers’ shifting needs.
The bottom line
So what does this all mean for businesses, and even those who don’t have Gen Z’s as part of their target audience? Don’t treat your customers as a name or number, see them as interactive and integral components to seeing your business grow. Use their knowledge to help shape your brand by being authentic and consistent. And if all of this sounds too overwhelming then give us call so we can help you do it.