Here’s how to communicate with Gen Z effectively

For years businesses have focused on Millennials, making business decisions based on individuals labeled the “Me Generation.” While this demographic is still very worthwhile to target, you now need to turn attention to the next most influential generation – Gen Z.

With a share of 32 percent of the population, Bloomberg analysis found the Z generation has surpassed Millennials as the largest group of consumers. Although many businesses assume Gen Z operates similarly to Millennials, a recent study from Ooma highlights that this is not the case. To achieve success for your small business, you need to understand how the Z generation communication preferences differ from those of Millennials.

Digital Pioneers vs. Digital Natives

As digital pioneers, Millennials immediately adopted social media as it emerged on the scene. However, Gen Z grew up with social media and this digital-native viewpoint means they look at social platforms through a different lens. While Millennials are keen to broadcast their professional and personal lives across countless channels including Instagram and Facebook, the Z generation is far more cautious about how they use social media. While they are still constantly using it, rather than seeking ways to broadcast their every move to everyone, they are opting for more private and time-limited social platforms such as Instagram Stories and Snapchat.

So, how best to communicate with Gen Z?

Gen Z has an estimated purchasing power of $153 billion a year, making them a highly influential generation. Knowing how to best to communicate and engage with Gen Z will be your first step in tapping into their buying power for your company.

Due to their prioritization of speed and efficiency, Gen Z prefers to handle both urgent and everyday communications via phone call – specifically mobile. They want their questions answered as soon as possible, from actual people. The Ooma study showed that over half (57%) of Gen Z respondents said that they preferred phone calls over electronic communications, with a third (35%) saying this is due to the speed and efficiency of phone conversations.

Email has a bad reputation among the Z generation, with this generation preferring it the least among all communication methods. Social media is also one of the least preferred ways for the Z generation to communicate with small businesses. The study found that only 17% of Gen Zers like to communicate with local businesses over social media. Why? 30% said because they found it to be impersonal and a further 35% claimed it was due to slow responses to inquiries.

To reach this latest generation, remember this:

  1. Text is not best. Gen Z wants to quickly solve problems and prefer phone calls for important interactions. For example, you should pick up the phone and call to let Gen Z know when an order is arriving. You should also make sure you have the resources in place to respond in-person and on the phone to inquiries about your products, stock and more.
  2. Invest in Customer Service. Gen Z values efficiency and accuracy. Keeping your customer service up to par ensures that Gen Z’s questions and needs will be addressed and answered, building loyalty with existing customers and gaining new ones.
  3. Minimize Social Spend when Targeting Locally. Social media is less favored by Gen Z so while it’s important to keep this going for driving awareness, look to invest in direct forms of engagement too such as in-person presence at local events.

Gen Z is going to grow in importance as your customer so now is the time to reassess your strategy for acquisition and engagement. Getting it right with the Z generation by taking into account their preferences and personal style – and remembering how they differ from Millennials – will help build you a relationship with them early.

Ken Narita’s marketing career spans over two decades helping businesses large and small grow. Whether it’s been advising emerging startups, guiding clients from the agency side, or currently, leading business marketing at Ooma, Ken has always taken an empathetic approach to addressing goals, gaps, and opportunities.

Young worker stock image by SeventyFour/Shutterstock