Kathleen launched a project called We R Gen Z because she saw a lack of information about the newest generation because the marketplace was completely focused on millennials. Her organization conducts original research with a bank of 1,000 teens on a monthly basis to understand Gen Z.
Krista — a member of Gen Z herself — works as the social media coordinator and intern coordinator for We R Gen Z and she believes that her generation will take the world by storm.
Gen Z spends $44 billion a year in the U.S. and influences $600 billion when it comes to household spending.
It’s vital for the marketplace to understand that Gen Z will make up 40 percent of the U.S. population and 37 percent of the global population by the year 2020. [3;47]
Organizations that exclude them will be behind in their sales efforts, and they may never catch up.
Mistakes selling Gen Z
Sellers often talk down to Gen Z and the generation sees it. Gen Z has what Krista calls a “strong BS filter,” and they see right through lack of authenticity.
The generation values authentic, genuine behavior. Gen Z is turned off by fake, flashy marketing, instead choosing brands that are transparent about what they value and believe. [6:50]
Gen Z cares about who is behind the product as well as the product or service itself. They care about what top executives are saying about topics such as politics and the environment.
They include countless outside factors in their decision-making and if a brand doesn’t match what they are looking for, they won’t support it.
Gen Z trends
We R Gen Z hosts a trends panel that evaluates what’s hot and what’s not for the generation.
Organizations should understand that Gen Z are the next creators and innovators. Those companies need the young people of Gen Z more than the young people need their products or services.
They will buy or shun organizations based on their values and their passion. When Nike included Colin Kaepernick in its commercials, one member of We R Gen Z put all his Adidas clothes away and wore only Nike for two weeks to honor the decision made by the company. [10:19]
The founder of Tom’s Shoes gave $5 million to anti-gun-violence in response to a school shooting in California, marking the largest corporate donation ever to this particular issue. The decision resonated with Gen Z.
Business is more than money, especially for Gen Z. Older marketers can miss this if they try throwing more money at the marketing effort.
Instead, marketers should look at the lifetime value of a Gen Z customer, which is a lot higher than the lifetime value of an older customer who has been with the company for a number of years. [12:13]
Managers must remember that Gen Z asks why. Previous generations were taught not to question authority, but Gen Z asks why, not to be disrespectful, but to understand the reasoning behind decisions.
The generation is curious and they want to understand motivations.
Gen Z is also the first generation to be true digital natives. They grew up in a world where the Internet was prolific. When they seek information, their first source is Google and their second is Instagram. [14:29]
They tend to seek a wide range of different perspectives on a topic. If someone tells them one thing, Gen Z tends to seek other voices before making decisions because they are used to this expansive focus.
Gen Z and video
Gen Z responds better to video than past generations. Primarily, the generation watches YouTube and Netflix more than they watch regular television. Many of them learn new things like how to play instruments simply by watching YouTube videos. [16:39]
Companies can’t take traditional routes when selling Gen Z.
We R Gen Z’s research shows that 48 percent of respondents said that social media influences their purchases most. Big sales are next because the generation is more frugal than its predecessors and they are watching their dollars more carefully.
Companies have to be on social media, present it in an awesome way, and be there for the right reasons at the right time.
They’ve seen all kinds of incredible creativity and they expect it cool and different and new each time they interact with a brand. [20:45]
Reaching Gen Z
Brands must actually engage with this generation on social media. Consumers are looking to see that brands are liking comments and responding to comments. They must show that they are authentic and real.
They must also understand that 64 percent of Gen Z will buy things via smartphones. Most of Gen Z will look to reviews before buying and that they will sometimes buy a product because their friends vouch for it. That suggestion will carry more weight than any marketing campaign. [24:41]
Other findings are that 65 percent won’t use voice tech such as Siri and Alexa to buy, though they will use them to accomplish tasks like making lists.
Krista told the story of one of their panelists who loved the idea of the Nintendo Switch so much that it motivated him to get a job. He hadn’t had a job prior to that, but the new system motivated him to save his paychecks to purchase it.
Gen Z is willing to save for a few months to buy a certain product, but if the product is overly expensive, they fear it will be irrelevant by the time they save for it, so they won’t likely purchase it. [27:51]
Gen Z has also learned from millennials that they don’t want to be burdened with hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt. Their frugality is based upon the things they’ve seen. they want a different future for themselves.
As an aside, clothes, gift cards, and tech are the hottest items for Christmas when you’re shopping for Gen Z. They also really appreciate making gifts for the people they care about.
Look at your marketing and your brand. Look at how you’re reaching Gen Z and think outside the box. It’s a creative group of people and you have to stay a step ahead of them to gain their loyalty. [31:36]
Think about accessibility. They want brands to be easily accessible and to make their lives easier and faster. Speed has become their standard, and they want easy.
Brands that don’t make it easy to access products and services don’t stand a chance.
“Selling Gen Z” episode resources
Follow Kathleen and Krista atWe R Gen Z and find them on social media. If you’re a brand seeking custom research, email them at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also find Kathleen on LinkedIn or @kathleenhessert on social media.
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