How to Win Over Generation Z

March 08, 2018

As the spending power of Generation Z increases, businesses can no longer ignore the preferences of this growing demographic of young consumers. 

The influence of millennials over the current corporate environment is powerful, but a new generation will soon take over: Generation Z.

Generation Z is the generation born between 1996 and present day - and they are already beginning to emerge from the shadow of their much-discussed millennial predecessors.

Even though many of them aren’t yet independent enough to buy their own meals, the oldest of Gen Zers have begun to demonstrate indicative spending habits. Generation Z makes up a quarter of the U.S. population and will account for 40% of all consumers by 2020.

After providing restaurants with mobile loyalty and digital ordering solutions for 6 years, we at LoyaltyPlant know about the end-user behavior and in-app journey based on our automated mass data analytics. Most of our partners, such as KFC, Pizza Hut, Burger King, and Balance Grille, are quick-service and fast-casual restaurants whose target audience is mainly the younger generation.

Businesses that want to be at the forefront of trends in a changing market over the next decade need to factor in the group who is responsible for modern youth culture.

To grab their attention and eventually earn their loyalty, businesses need to understand and cater to Generation Z’s needs, wants, and values.

Generation Z’s Defining Characteristics

Let’s take a look at some defining characteristics we’ve learned about Generation Z.

Changing Character

Gen Zers have different expectations and values than their older counterparts.

Even though both millennials and Generation Z value brands that offer unique experiences, the younger generation’s expectations differ: 60% of Gen Z prefers a cool product over a cool experience, while millennials prefer the opposite.

Generational IQ: Gen Y vs. Gen Z

Image source: Deep Focus

More Gen Zers prefer a cool product over a cool experience, the opposite of millennials’ preferences, which means brands need to eventually refocus their marketing strategies to focus on this preference.

Rapid Consumers

Gen Z consumes and processes content rapidly. This is, in part, due to the generation’s full embrace of apps such as Snapchat, with its 10-second story limit and permanent disappearance thereafter.

They have developed a talent for sorting information quickly and often simultaneously, using smartphones, laptops, desktops, and tablets.

Generation Zers also have an average attention span of eight seconds as compared to 12 seconds for millennials. This shows that they are consuming information even more quickly than older generations.

Growing Up Plugged-In

Gen Z is a mobile-first generation. Many got their first phones in elementary or middle school, whereas most millennials and older generations did not receive their first mobile phone until high school or later.

Technologies are quickly adopted by both millennials and Gen Z, but Gen Z didn’t go through the learning and innovation process millennials did - where their older counterparts were pioneers, they’re natives.

How Can Your Business Grab Gen Z’s Attention?

Because Gen Zers have grown up in a different atmosphere, they are different from millennials and must be treated as such.

As their market influence grows, more and more brands are focusing on how to reach these young influencers.

Keep It Simple

Most millennials remember waiting for dial-up internet, while Generation Z does not. They have little to no patience for inconvenience. If something is faulty or too slow, they will move on to the next, faster thing.

To turn your Gen Z customers into devoted clients, provide them with an interactive and engaging mobile app solution that makes ample use of perks, such as reward programs, exciting UX, gamification features, and more.

For example, Balance Grille, an Ohio-based fast-casual restaurant chain, is focused on attracting Gen Z customers, which is shown on its app.

Balance Grille app

Balance Grille’s app has online ordering and rewards features, which appeal to Gen Zers.

Skip the “Salesy” Advertisements

Gen Zers often simply ignore sponsored content, especially if they see it as empty and contrived, with no particular value. Post-millennials are practical and see straight through all the bells and whistles of advertising.

Gen Zers look for brands that listen to them and cater to their needs and wants. Content should avoid a “sales-y” tone. Instead, it should clearly communicate the problems your business can solve and the benefits of doing so.

For example, the Sampler mobile app from Converse give users a chance to digitally try a on pair of shoes with the help of in-app augmented reality.

The app helps Gen Zers make a quick decision when buying shoes, thus meeting one of their principal requirements — a top-notch, quick, and comfortable solution.

Create an Easy Communication Process

To Generation Zers, a reliable product is more important than a good experience, and they want to be engaged with your business in a convenient and enjoyable manner.

To effectively communicate with Gen Z customers, brands need to ensure that the communication process is productive and painless; after all, Gen Zers don’t have long enough attention span for anything but an easy communication process.

Companies that implement mobile data collection through mobile solutions can use collected information to personalize and optimize communication with their clients.

For example, a restaurant collecting and segmenting data through mobile can identify which ice cream flavor is most popular with females under 18 and decide on how to personalize promotional campaigns aimed at that group in order to get more profits.

Include Social Media in Your Strategy

For Generation Z, social media isn’t just a digital hub where they can unwind and connect with friends - it’s a lifestyle. They want to use it to discover new products and alluring brands.

Customers can be encouraged to share recommendations and feedback on various social networks through incentives.

For example, Gen Zers can share through a mobile app their individual promo codes to invite friends to get an extra discount or bonus from the brand. These campaigns can be effective in earning new customers and keeping current ones and is free of charge for business.

With a mobile app, companies can simply integrate other social platforms into it in order to gather more reviews from satisfied customers. This can lend authority and authenticity to the social attitude toward a brand and earn some free word-of-mouth marketing as well.

The mobile app integration with social networks causes credibility because of both positive and negative feedback coming directly from customers.

If you get a bad review, it’s important to show commitment and desire to solve the problem quickly. Doing so will allow your business to become more customer-centric.

Prioritize Mobile

If you want to truly capture this generation, you need to ensure that mobile communication with your brand is easy to use and readily available.

If you don’t provide a good mobile experience, it is unlikely this generation will care about your brand.

“To ensure a high customer retention rate, reward techniques are becoming more and more popular,” said Vas Diachenko, CEO of LoyaltyPlant. “And when we speak about Gen Zers, we should always focus on mobile devices. The brands that have a good size of Gen Z customers today must definitely focus on building strong and longstanding relationships with the help of mobile loyalty apps.”

For example, Hank and Harry’s deli in Florida has an app appeals that to Gen Zers.

Hank and Harry's deli app

Everything a customer needs is on the Hank and Harry’s app: online ordering, rewards, and the menu.

Focus on Generation Z

Although baby boomers and millennials still hold the majority of purchasing power, Gen Z is on the rise.

As their spending power increases, businesses must take into account the preferences of this emerging demographic of young consumers.

In the long run, businesses that tune into the wants and needs of Gen Z will be the leaders of the market.


About the Author

Headshot of Galina GrigorevaGalina Grigoreva is a head of marketing communications at LoyaltyPlant, an NYC-based global provider of mobile apps for brands based on reward programs integrated with powerful CRM systems, an all-in-one sales & marketing tool to engage with customers and build loyalty, brand, and business.

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