generation z

Move over, millennials: Generation Z is taking center stage.

By Rieva Lesonsky

Born between 1995 and 2012, Generation Z makes up one-fourth of the U.S. population, or nearly 73 million people. By 2020 (that’s less than 18 months away), Generation Z will account for 40% of all US consumers. Are you ready to market to these important customers?

Generation Z: Unique and Powerful, a new report by MNI, has some useful insights into the up-and-coming generation. Here’s what you need to know.

  1. What to know: They’re easily influenced by their peers. Generation Z checks social media as much as 100 times a day. More than half of survey respondents have given someone their social media handle instead of a phone number as a way to keep in touch. This reliance on social media means that rather than celebrities or advertisements, they turn to real people for input on what to buy. Whether that’s a YouTube influencer, or their friends in real life, they care more about the opinions of their peers than what the “experts” have to say.

What to do: No matter what you sell, if you want to attract Generation Z, you absolutely must have a robust social media presence. Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook are all important social media channels for Generation Z. As a business owner, you must tailor your content to each specific social network. Don’t share the same content on Facebook that you do on Instagram —Generation Z consumers use different social channels for different purposes.

  1. What to know: Generation Z consumers aren’t shy about using their mobile wallets to show their support for businesses that share their values and views. More than half of survey respondents say knowing that a brand is socially conscious has an influence on what they decide to buy.

What to do: Contributing to charities that Generation Z cares about, giving back to the community, being environmentally responsible or taking a stand on important social issues are all ways build clout with this generation. However, it’s vital that your socially responsible actions also be authentic. Don’t try to fake it—Generation Z can smell that a mile away.

  1. What to know: Generation Z is very cost-conscious. Almost three-fourths (72%) of Generation Z consumers say that cost is the most important factor when making a purchase. There are several reasons for this: First, they’re just starting out in life, and not yet at peak earning power. Second, many have sizeable student loans to repay. Third, they saw parents lose jobs, homes or savings during the Great Recession. All of this has sharpened their sense of the value of a dollar.

What to do: Accept that your Generation Z consumers will always look for a lower price, unless you show them why your products and services are worth a higher one. Do you sell something unique? Is it ethically made? Is it an “affordable luxury” that will last for a long time, or a once-in-a-lifetime experience?  Because “fear of missing out” (or FOMO) is a motivator for many Generation Z shoppers, limited-time offers can be extremely effective with these customers.

  1. What to know: Gen Z consumers like to be part of your marketing. They rely on content shared by their peers when deciding what to buy—and they think of themselves, too, as having important opinions to add to the discussion.

What to do: Provide plenty of opportunities for Generation Z customers to share their thoughts. Engage them on social media by asking for photos, videos or other content. Do quick informal customer surveys to see what they think. Last, but not least, encourage them to review your business online. The more user-generated content your Gen Z customers create around your brand, the more Generation Z prospects you’ll attract.

They may be young, but Generation Z consumers already control almost $44 billion in discretionary spending. Follow the tips above, and some of that spending could come your way.

Photo by Alexis Brown on Unsplash