During the last couple of years, marketing to millennials, the trendsetting generation, remained the spotlight for ads and promotions. However, times are changing and there is a new sheriff in town – Generation Z. 

Gen-Z is finally taking the limelight from its more well-known and overly studied predecessors.  According to research from Bloomberg, Gen-Z surpassed Millennials in 2019 as the most populous generation, comprising roughly 32% of the population with more than 68 million young people in it while millennials account for 31.5%. That’s 68 million potential customers and this number is only expected to keep growing. 

Read on for marketing strategies to consider to engage Gen Z to be customers for the holiday season… and for life.

What Do We Know?

Generation Z, those born from 1995-2005, is known for being significantly unhappier than other generations. Not only are they anxious about their careers, but they are more concerned about social equality, speaking up for what they believe in, and ensuring individuals of all backgrounds have a voice than they are about what celebrity you have endorsing your product. To reach this audience, you need to think through new techniques and strategies or you risk losing them as a consumer altogether. 

Tech devices, apps, and social media have also been ubiquitous throughout the lives of this generation. A Pew study last year found that nearly half of all Americans aged 13 to 17  said they were online “almost constantly,” and more than 90 percent used social media. The platforms that they expressed they gravitate towards the most include Instagram, TikTok, and Snapchat.

The 2021 holiday season saw some fascinating stats for Gen Z that are expected to continue into 2022’s holiday season.

  • 59% of Gen Z shoppers are concerned that COVID-19 complications and supply chain interruptions will make it harder to shop
  • 49% of Gen Z shoppers say they search the web for gift ideas
  • 41% of Gen Z shoppers say they will use some sort of installment payments to cover the cost of holiday gifts
  • 44% of Gen Z shoppers say they will do most of their shopping online

How to engage the new generation

Given this group’s purchasing power and self-identity, it is critical that you adjust your offerings and marketing tactics to meet this demographics’ wants and needs in a way you may have never marketed to other generations in the past. This holiday season, not only must your product either work or be made well, but it also needs to be appropriately priced, readily available and sustainably made. Let’s dive a bit deeper into why. 

Step away from traditional ways of advertising and get creative

Gen Z customers are used to hearing about and personally experiencing hacking scandals, data leaks, and cyberattacks over their lifetime because they have grown up in a digital bubble. A bubble where communication with their friends and information can be obtained instantaneously. While they understand the pitfalls that come with living in the digital bubble they also understand its potential. With that, they are not looking for a hit and quit product, they are looking to make a connection; which is where your marketing tactics can step in and gain their trust. 

Generation Z is cautious when it comes to traditional advertising from brands some of us might not think twice about purchasing from because this audience values the opinions of their friends and social media influences over brand messaging itself. Therefore, if you want to succeed with Gen Z, you not only have to have a thriving social media page, but you have to be in the conversation, and social media influencers can make that happen. How can you do this? Shy away from using traditional big name celebrity endorsers like LeBron James to humanize your brand (even if you can afford them) and start thinking about employing influencers on social media platforms like YouTube, Snapchat, Instagram, and TikTok. 

According to a 2019 Rakuten marketing study, 65% of consumers follow an influencer on Instagram and many of them discover new brands and products by following them; which is why you should consider dedicating some of your marketing spend to spend on influencers. Depending on your budget you can either target micro-influencers (those with 50,000 or fewer followers) who are relatively less expensive than if you were to hire macro-influencers (think celebrities with mega followers). For more on micro influencers and their rise then click here.

Have an open line of communication

If there’s one thing we know about Generation Z, it’s that they want to be sure they are heard. Not only when it comes to having a stance on issues around social fairness, but also when expressing opinions on products they purchase or are considering buying. An Accenture report revealed that 40 percent of Gen Zers leave feedback on products if the option is available. Therefore, having an open line of communication on every outlet possible, social media, and your website, for your brand is vital to keeping Gen Z engaged. In addition, it is just as important to make sure you are responding to their reviews – especially if they are negative – it gives you the option to make things right and turn their opinions around. If you want to cover all of your bases – cut to the chase and have a FAQ call to action front and center on your website so that Gen Z’s feel comfortable in knowing what to expect when purchasing from you this holiday season.

Stand for something bigger than your brand

If you want to reach this demographic, you will have to dial back the blockchain to the source to ensure that what you offer truly is sustainable. “Eco-friendly,” “good for the planet,” and “carbon neutral” are just a few of the terms younger generations look for when seeking more sustainable options. With this shift, sustainability is quickly becoming the bare minimum for both Millennials and Gen Z when shopping.

If you want your business to prosper in the changing online shopping space, being environmentally friendly is not optional—it’s a necessity when trying to reach this demographic this holiday season. Gen Z is overly conscious of how their shopping impacts the environment. Many are opting to shop online from businesses that provide sustainable packaging, products, and shipping. In fact, 73% are willing to pay more for sustainable products—a marked difference from older generations. Some brands to look at that are currently paving the way for sustainable options include:

  • Aerrem is the stylish, new everyday bag with an environmental mission of helping people establish a new daily habit, do their part to help save the planet and look good at the same time. It is the first tote bag specifically designed to carry two refillable bottles or tumblers, allowing people to refuse single-use plastics while away from home.
  • Brooks Running-The Ghost 14 is Brooks Running’s first carbon-neutral product, as part of the brand’s commitment to achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2040.
  • Caldera + Lab-Caldera + Lab creates sustainable, clean, prestige skincare for men by combining 100% fair trade, wild-harvested, organic ingredients with green technology that reduces the impact on our environment.

Other notable brands include United By Blue, TOMS, Kut from the Kloth, Ikea, and Patagonia

Make it personal

Everyone wants to feel special, this is not a unique characteristic to just Gen Z. However, we know this generation is significantly more dissatisfied than generations before them. Therefore when marketing your products to this generation, you need to take that extra step to make them feel special. Showcasing your product’s customization options will catch their eyes and possibly make them click the check-out button. It can be as simple as offering different color options like S’ip by S’well or more in-depth where they can add-on products to their shipment like FabFitFun.

Convenience, convenience, convenience 

One thing that is certain about Gen Z is that they still love shopping in-store. We’ve all missed out on this experience in the last year and that has left Gen Z craving more of what they’ve lost. But it leaves retailers questioning; what do Gen Z value about shopping in-store? The simple answer – it’s all about the experience.

  • Fitting rooms: having the ability to try clothes on in-store is more convenient than ordering three different sizes of jeans to have to return two. It’s also a win for the retailer as return costs are lower when shopping in-store.
  • Social Interaction: Gen Z aren’t just out to shop, they desire social interaction, whether that’s shopping as part of a day out with family and friends or developing that one-to-one relationship while being helped to find their purchases in-store by an associate.

The convenience of shopping in-store also translates to their online shopping habits. Being able to shop from their couch and having things brought straight to their door is an appealing option to many customers, most importantly Gen Z. Not only because they receive their items fast, but it allows them to quickly connect with their peers and your brand via social media when they have questions or want to give a review. Learn more about connecting your digital and retail experience with these blogs; Building an Apparel & Accessories Webstore That Matches Your Retail Space and A Guide to Offline Marketing Tactics for Online Auto Retailers.

Bringing it all together

The holidays are around the corner, so now is the perfect time to start showing Generation Z why your business stands out from all of the other options at their fingertips. Meeting them where they are, engaging them in the conversation, and gaining their trust in what you stand for is how you can reach them. In return, they will reward you with their loyalty and spending habits. 

Ready to incorporate these strategies to gain Gen Z customers for life?

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