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Engaging Gen Z with Relationship Marketing

by Michelle Kratzer
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Which generation is happiest with their eyes glued to a screen, glancing up only long enough to roll their eyes at their Millennial big brothers? Gen Zers, born between 1995-2009, grew up in the “shock and awe” of a post 9/11 world and an economic recession that had their parents whispering and worrying for the majority of their formative years.

Born into the internet age, many owned a smartphone by age 12, putting the entire world in the palm of their tweenage hands. They not only love social media, they can’t comprehend a world without it. They live in an era where electronic communication is the default. They would rather text each other than communicate audibly, even when they are physically next to each other sometimes. No wonder anyone born in any other generation is stumped on how to reach them.

Traditional marketing to Gen Z is about as welcome as a salesman pounding on your door on an otherwise peaceful Sunday morning. Gen Z’s won’t generally open the door to a product peddling stranger who has taken no time to get to know or understand them. They despise traditional marketing even more than their millennial predecessors; 52 percent of them apply ad blockers when browsing the internet.

So, how do you get their attention? Is your only option to break down the door? Not at all. These consumers are not impressed by your brute strength. They want you to invest some time in them. Go to the places they go. Understand the world as they do. Engage them in a 2-way relationship. Then, walk in the door as an invited guest. 

 

Here’s 4 ways to do this:

 

1. Go Where They Are

In his best-seller “Outliers, the Story of Success”, author Malcom Gladwell famously claimed it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert at something. That means that if you devote 3 hours per day it would take approximately 3333 days or a little over 9 years to reach expert level. Considering Gen Z’s use their smartphones about 15.4 hours per week, most are well on their way to expert status on all things internet. This impacts everything from schoolwork to social to shopping. In fact, they will read thousands of reviews before making a purchase.

 

graph of smartphone use

 

2. Be Quick About It

Blame it on electronic overload or all of the chemicals in their food, but Gen Z’s have an astonishingly short 8 second attention span. How do you catch someone’s attention in 8 seconds? Dan Schwabel, managing partner of Millennial Branding gave his answer to The New York Times: “we tell our advertising partners that if they don’t communicate in five words and a big picture, they will not reach this generation.” Use edgy visual images to tell your story in a new way. Videos work particularly well with Gen Z’s. Forsake flowery language for tight text.

Gen Z

 Capture their attention with artistic, edgy visuals and speak their language.

 

3. Demonstrate the Value to Them

Orange may be the new black, but cheap is the new cool. When the people you look to for safety fret nervously about losing a job or losing a house, you realize that this thing called money can sprout wings and fly. You come to understand how volatile your financial situation is, and that it is not necessarily in your control. You start to respect money, stretching it as far as you can, even if it is their parents’ money. A recent Cassandra Report found that “90 percent of Gen Z’s will make sure a purchase is affordable before asking their parents for it."

 

4. Earn their Trust

Generation Z does have something in common with Millennials -- they both care about supporting brands that are ethical, caring and strive to do the right thing. If kind and charitable qualities drive your corporate mission, post about it on your social media. This up-and-coming group wants to trust and believe in you. Let them know how you are changing the world, and invite them to join you. This list of their favorite brands emphasizes fair and equitable practices as well as generosity in the name of a social cause.

 So, don’t just give up on Gen Z because you’ve had the door slammed in your face a few times. Get to know these important consumers and show them the value that you and your product can add to their lives. You may find that before long you are welcomed as an honored guest -- or better still, a valued friend.

Want to learn more about reaching this generation? Contact our Client Experience team by clicking on the image below of our White Glove Experts.

White Glove Service

They'll be happy to answer any questions you might have about this up-and-coming demographic.

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