Marketers have long been wringing their hands over how to talk to millennials -- the generation known for their anti-brand, anti-ad inclinations and their need for instant gratification. The landscape has slowly changed to meet the demand of the aging millennial generation as they begin growing families, yet what about the upcoming generation - Generation Z that is. At approximately 60 million native-born, American members of Generation Z outnumber their endlessly dissected millennial elders according to census data compiled by Susan Weber-Stoger, a demographer at Queens College. With the oldest members of this generation barely out of highschool, they are poised to become the dominant youth influencers of tomorrow when it comes to the market, culture, and digital trends. Generation Z are true digital natives, and as Lucie Greene, worldwide director of the Innovation Group at J. Walter Thompson calls them: “millennials on steroids”. As the next generation of renters enters the market, we’re keeping our eyes on strategies and trends that will resonate with Gen Z, move over millennials!
Facebook is Still #1
Despite all the talk of Snapchat and cultural shunning of Facebook from Gen Z, Facebook still reigns supreme. Technically Snapchat is the most-used platform for just over half of Gen Z, but Facebook is constantly evolving and giving all new reasons to use it. In fact, according to research by Fluent, 67% of Gen Zers regularly use Facebook, and nearly half of respondents said they login multiple times per day. For Gen Z, Facebook is like a modern day directory providing all the information they might need about both brands and people. The new Facebook live feature has been wildly successful among younger users, which could be a huge asset for multifamily communities when it comes to community tours and making authentic connections!
Generation Z has a Nose for BS
A survey conducted by Deep Focus found that 63% of Gen Z prefers to see “real” people in ads, and less than half favor celebrities. They’re also interested in content that seems realistic rather than polished, predictable narratives. What does that mean for the multifamily industry? Find ways to let your authenticity shine through online, whether that’s Facebook ads utilizing Canvas, community videos, social media, or your website -- give future renters something they can relate to. That doesn’t mean you want to get on Snapchat and be perceived as someone’s weird aunt trying to be cool, that sort of pandering simply won’t work on Gen Z. Instead, enlist the help of social influencers as a buffer. Recent research shows about one third of U.S. social media users between 16 and 34 are social influencers, meaning they either have a sizable following online or actively partner with brands. That alone, is an incredible indication for the need to create marketing strategies around social influencers.
Gen Z is Actively Involved
Based on the previous statistic about social influencers, it’s clear that Gen Z is not one to sit back and watch; they want to be actively involved in the conversation whether it be politics, brands, or social issues. Zeno Group believes companies must give Gen Z “a job to do” by allowing them to be brand advocates and content collaborators. Of course, back to the basic characteristic of a nose for BS, Gen Z will not partner with brands they do not believe in. That means being honest about who you are, and communicating that in ways that tie in emotional realism as well as a bit of humor. Always avoid an overbearing approach, and empower users rather than talking at them.
No surprise here, but if Gen Z is the millennial generation on steroids, attention spans are bound to be shorter than the amount of time it takes to hit the send on a text. Brevity and effectiveness are difficult to commingle, but that’s what the current landscape requires. Dan Schawbel, managing partner of Millennial Branding told the New York Times, “we tell our advertising partners that if they don’t communicate in five words and a big picture, they will not reach this generation”. You have 8 seconds to engage otherwise Gen Z will tune out immediately. Succinct is perhaps too long a word to describe the point; microcontent and microinteractions are about to get even smaller to accommodate Gen Z.
In essence, all the trends we’re currently seeing take shape will become even more defined and pivotal for marketers attempting to reach Gen Z. Of course, there will be new ones we could never predict, yet taking these observations about Gen Z to heart will help define marketing strategies with whatever new technology arises. Keep in mind, Generation Z has never lived in a time where the Internet did not exist, so for Gen Zers the barrier to real-time information and communication has always been nearly nonexistent. Generation Z will expect and demand that barrier becomes even more invisible over time, and we're headed that direction with the introduction of Facebook Canvas ads, virtual reality, and more. However, marketers must continue to look towards the future constantly, and find ways to connect authentically and seamlessly with the next influential generation.