How should you best engage with Gen Z and Millennial customers? This is the eternal question on the minds of marketing and customer relations experts. Approaching younger generations and winning their loyalty requires a slew of new and updated tactics, along with a deep understanding of what makes this audience tick.
At first glance, Gen Z and Millennials may seem remarkably similar. However, if you look closer, you’ll notice some definite differences between the two generations; differences that can make or break a business’s marketing approach. It’s important to understand both generations and their patterns of consumer behavior on an intimate level.
Millennials vs Gen Z: What’s the Difference?
Understanding the subtle differences between these two generations allows you to create nuanced marketing campaigns that address both age groups in a direct, engaging way. Here are the primary differences between them.
- Millennials were born between 1980 and 1996, and grew up during an economic boom.
- They are idealistic and focus on having experiences rather than owning status symbols.
- They grew up with the first mobile technologies and are considered to be ‘mobile pioneers’.
- They choose to support brands that share their personal values.
- They most often frequent Facebook and Instagram.
- Members of Gen Z were born between 1997 and the 2010s, and many grew up during an economic recession.
- They are pragmatic people who prioritize saving money and being frugal.
- They are a generation of mobile natives who have spent their entire lives surrounded by mobile technology.
- They support brands that feel authentic.
- They most often frequent Instagram and Snapchat.
Marketing to New Generations, Explained
Although consumer traits between Gen Z and the Millennial generation differ, the two age groups share many similarities.
When developing a marketing strategy to increase engagement with these generations, there are five golden rules to remember. They are:
- Focus on selling experiences, not products.
- Use video media to engage with them.
- Be cautious when implementing influencer campaigns with major celebrities and personalities.
- Engage meaningfully and authentically with your customers.
- Maintain a clear dedication to prioritizing their privacy.
Understanding New Generations’ Attention Spans
Now you have a clearer picture of how Gen Z and Millennials operate, you need to understand how their relationship with technology affects their ability to engage with your brand.
Some Millennials, who were born from 1980 onward, will remember a time before the internet and mobile devices. Generation Z makes up 32% of the global population and grew up using mobile phones and tablets. They don’t know a world without internet access.
While the average Millennial has an attention span of 12 seconds, the attention span of a Gen Zer clocks in at just eight. As the latter generation grew up surrounded by web-based marketing, their attention spans have adjusted to filter out any information they don’t wish to engage with. Thus, as a marketer, you need to grab their attention within eight seconds, or your brand will be instantly forgotten.
How to Increase Engagement with Modern Customers
1. Sell experiences instead of products
Neither Gen Z nor Millennial customers gravitate towards hard sells. As they’ve grown up with or spent years using the internet, they’re quite adept at ignoring obvious advertising campaigns. They’ve learned how to filter out what they don’t want to see, or use advertisement blocking software that does it for them. They don’t want to be told how incredible your products are; they want to know how your products will benefit them, and what experiences they bring to the table.
As explained by Mention, only 25% of what your business sells is your physical product. The remaining three quarters comes from the abstract emotions and feelings associated with that product. When trying to engage with Millennial and Gen Z customers, this is especially true.
2. Using video content is crucial
The 2020s mark the age of video content and using this medium to your advantage is key when addressing younger generations of customers. Google surveys have revealed that Gen Zers primarily turn to YouTube for entertainment, learning, gaining new skills, and easing the stresses of day-to-day life.
Gen Z is already a core audience on YouTube and IGTV (Instagram’s native video hub), making these platforms the ideal places to engage with them—as long as you do so in the right way.
In the previous point, we mentioned selling experiences rather than products. Don’t focus your video content on the products you offer. Rather, they should offer real value in the form of vlogs, lifestyle videos, podcasts and more. Understanding the various ways viewers engage with your content is critical to measuring this value — both to them and you.
In this media, you can suggest your products will bring customers similar positive experiences to those featured in your content. But if you push too hard, you’ll have the opposite effect.
3. Opt for micro-influencers instead of celebrities
Big brands have spent billions on Instagram influencer campaigns in the past. Sponsored posts were all the rage at one point, setting businesses back anywhere from $50 to $100,000, depending on the influencers they chose to collaborate with.
2019’s top influencers included Selena Gomez, Ariana Grande and Cristiano Ronaldo, who are all instantly recognizable celebs. However, for most businesses, it’s virtually impossible, financially and otherwise, to work alongside an international celebrity.
If you aim to include influencer campaigns in your marketing portfolio, consider opting for micro-influencers instead of major personalities. The definition of Micro-influencers is any account holder who has between 1,000 and 100,000 followers on social media. They may actually be capable of driving more engagement than celebrities are, as Gen Z and Millennial customers find them easier to relate to.
Statistics have shown that once influencers surpass the 100,000 follower mark, their engagement levels decrease. Conversely, micro-influencers boast around 60% higher engagement levels and 22% more weekly conversations with customers than their celebrity counterparts. They’re also drastically more cost effective for businesses per engagement.
While we’re on the topic of influencers, you may wish to reconsider your perfectly staged and curated Instagram image posts. A few years ago, Millennials adored seeing flawlessly positioned products and aesthetic lattes on their timelines. However, both them and the younger Gen Zers are now avoiding brands that post these images in favor of a more realistic and rustic approach.
4. Engage meaningfully with your customers
Reviews are, of course, essential for building trust in your brand. But they’re exponentially more important if you’re targeting Gen Z and Millennial customers.
In past studies, up to 76% of Gen Zers have voiced a preference for brands that respond to their feedback. They view this responsive attitude as a key to gauging the authenticity of a business. 41% of these young customers read a minimum of five online reviews before buying a product or service. On average, they post double the number of positive reviews to negative, which is great for your brand’s reputation.
With that said, getting those good reviews is just a single step in the process. You also need to reply authentically to them, while making sure you tailor your response to their review so they can see it’s not a copy-paste job.
Naturally, you need to respond to negative reviews too. Acknowledge issues and complaints head-on and be willing to work flexibly to resolve them. Never hide or delete negative reviews from your social platforms or your website either—these customers are more likely to trust and support brands that have a mix of good, bad, and tepid reviews on display.
5. Remain dedicated to preserving their privacy
A recent NGen research report discovered that 88% of Gen Z respondents felt that privacy protection was very important to them. Another IBM survey found that less than a third of teenagers are willing to share their personal information online—yet, over 60% of respondents would feel more comfortable doing so if they knew that the brand would protect their data securely.
If you’re targeting Gen Z and Millennials with your offerings, it pays to pay attention to these trends. When you ask for personal details, do so with honesty and transparency. Be open and proactive about your commitment to keeping their information secure and safe and always live up to your promises.
Ready to Enhance Your Future Brand Loyalty?
Increasing engagement with Gen Z and Millennial customers should be a must-have in your business’s marketing plan. By communicating clearly, transparently, and authentically with these younger generations, you can improve brand trust and loyalty, while meeting their unique needs and demands concurrently.
If you plan to target Gen Z and Millennials, you need to develop a comprehensive and customized digital marketing strategy that covers all of their preferred online platforms, including YouTube, Snapchat, Instagram, IGTV, and Facebook.
Meeting them at this level will ensure you develop the B2C relations that make for long-term, repeat customers. And that those customers will put their faith in your brand!
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