It’s the question everyone is asking, and few have confident answers upon which to build marketing strategy. How do you effectively connect with Generation Z consumers to create trust, build relationships, and gain their confidence?
To start, marketers may want to ditch traditional persona-building approaches and accept that Gen Z can’t be bottled up into one or two high level descriptions. It is an accepted practice to create personas; the Soccer Mom, the Road Warrior, and the Young Family are familiar examples. The intent of persona creation is worthy, but the logic is simply flawed in this age of digital marketing.
Gen Z now consists of approximately 68 million 10- to 24-year-olds and influences $150B/year in consumer spending. That’s about one-fifth of all consumer spending. Gen Z holds infinite promise for marketers but defies marketing generalization. They are digital natives and the most diverse generation in terms of sexuality, race, and ethnicity. Nearly half of Gen Z-ers are non-Caucasian; one in four is Hispanic, one in six is Black, and one in five has an immigrant parent. A recent Gallup survey found that 21% of Gen Z-ers identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender -- nearly four times the rate of older U.S. adults.
Raj De Datta, Bloomreach CEO and Founder and author of The Digital Seeker: A Guide for Digital Teams to Build Winning Experiences punched home this finding, telling The Wise Marketer “Gen Z brings a unique challenge to brands looking to build personalized customer experiences. Previously, marketers relied heavily on customer “personas” – generalizations that personify customer groups, including age, location, careers, etc. However, this emerging generation of consumers does not fit into personas nearly as well as their predecessors. Gen Z represents the most diverse generation in terms of nearly every category, from interests to identity.”
Two key learnings are important for marketers to understand as they plan engagement and loyalty strategies:
- Don’t label me
- Improve your CX
Without diving deeper into the quant behind Gen Z, it’s clear that customizing brand interactions with Gen Z and creating meaningful personalization in campaigns is a monumental task. “Don’t label me” may be the most important message marketers should take home from recent research. This article talks about why Gen Z wants marketers to ditch the persona.
The second message from Gen Z to brand marketers is equally clear. According to the latest Broadridge CX and Communications Insights survey, which polled 3,025 consumers in North America, about 66 percent of Gen Z-ers say that most of the companies they do business with need to improve their CX. As digital natives Gen Z is, in many cases, a step ahead of brands in their adoption of technology.
Raj De Datta said “Adding to the challenge of creating stellar CX for Gen Z is their predisposition toward technology. They understand how to use it and can identify how brands are using it to communicate with them. With this increased level of perception, Gen Z expects customized interactions and the ability to modify how brands interact with them. No longer can brands get away with selecting a list of characteristics and building blanket campaigns that speak to individuals that meet specific criteria. To succeed in an increasingly digital world, especially with a digital-native generation, brands need to optimize their marketing campaigns for dynamic, one-to-one personalization that works at scale.”
Gen Z is today and will continue to be the demographic in the spotlight for years to come. To create effective connections and build long term loyalty (if that is even possible) marketers should shed legacy practices towards persona building and become more adept with their data and available technology to build authentic connections with this group. The time to begin the pivoting process is now and you can start with these three tactics if you want to meet Gen Z’s expectations.