How to Engage with Gen Z Customers

Jun 13, 2019

Part of being a marketer means continually innovating your strategy. Particularly in the digital era, when new technology and engagement channels rapidly influence consumption trends, marketers have to ensure that they’re adapting their strategy to better engage customers and build lasting customer-brand relationships.

Of course, it’s not just changes in the digital landscape that marketers have to respond to. Customer preferences are continually changing, too—entire generations have their identity defined by how they interact with technology, their consumption habits, spending power, areas of investment, and so on.

Accounting for 40% of all consumers by 2020 and commanding up to $143 billion in spending power, Generation Z is a force to be reckoned with. Gen Z is the first generation to have grown up with easy access to modern technology, which has vastly shaped how they consume content. For any brand hoping to thrive, understanding the preferences and behaviors of this digitally native generation is essential.

Be relevant

A fact about Gen Z that’s often cited is their supposed particularly short attention span of eight seconds. However, this isn’t necessarily an issue; this short window for capturing their attention is simply a well-honed filter for recognizing relevant and engaging content.

Marketers already know about the importance of personalization, with studies showing that 78% of consumers will only engage with brand messaging that is personalized to reflect their previous interactions with the brand. This statistic is likely even higher for Gen Z consumers. To successfully engage with Gen Z, marketers need to leverage valuable customer data to truly understand what they want and how they prefer to interact with brands, and use these insights to drive customer engagement.

Be authentic

Engaging with Gen Z isn’t just about speaking to their interests. Your messaging also has to be consistent with your brand identity, because Gen Z quickly recognizes inauthenticity and pandering. With much of their time spent on social media, this generation has a highly tuned radar for being marketed to. The challenge for brands trying to reach these customers is to find a voice that is both engaging and authentic, providing value to both sides of the customer-brand relationship.

Stand for something

Speaking of providing value—Gen Z is a socially conscious group, having grown up in a time when social media augments political advocacy. On the one hand, this may mean that in some ways, Gen Z holds brands to a lofty standard: brands have to be socially and politically conscious, authentically so, have to be transparent with their values and practices, and bonus points if the brand gives back to a community. But this willingness of Gen Z to lend their voice to a social cause extends to brands, too—if they believe in your brand, if they’re happy with your product or customer experience, if they admire your business ethos, your Gen Z customers will be your most valuable brand ambassadors.

Don’t be afraid to experiment

Alongside personalization, interactivity and unexpectedness are enticing to Generation Z. Marketers should be excited to innovate with new channels and new means of engaging with these customers. Consider internet radio company Pandora’s interactive campaign that leveraged user-generated content of a #nofilter reaction when someone’s favorite music came on. Or Taco Bell’s Twitter account, which uses a unique voice to address the topics that matter most to its followers.

To get noticed and successfully deliver your brand message to Gen Z, you need to grab their attention (especially given that eight-second window!). The grammar-checking and proofreading tool Grammarly leverages visuals of clever memes to both attract attention and offer a combination of value, humor, and inspiration. Grammarly’s Pinterest page currently has 12,000 followers and the number is increasing all the time.

We live in an ever-evolving digital world. Before long, Generation Z will be at the forefront of these changes. Marketers need to stay ahead of the curve and ensure that they’re leveraging technology to help them better understand their customers and engage them across touchpoints to build valuable customer relationships.

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