Making a Shop Appealing to the Next Generation
A new generation is starting to enter the “real world” and impact the economy.
Generation Z, or those born between 1997 and 2010, are becoming the new millennials—a generation growing up in the prime of the digital age, and whose lifestyles are, in many ways, misunderstood by older generations.
“Gen Z is unlike any other consumer segment before them,” Mark Beal, Rutgers University professor of public relations, says. “They are the most diverse cohort and have had technology in hand since they were infants.”
Instead of complaining about this new generation, Beal decided to investigate what makes Gen Z tick. He conducted his own research and utilized surveys to see what drives Gen Z in the workplace and beyond, which resulted in writing “Decoding Gen Z.”
Not only does his book dive into Gen Z’s workforce habits, but it also touches on their habits as consumers. As consumers, Gen Z has some major power. From his research, Beal estimates the generation has the combined spending power of about $150 billion.
“This year, Generation Z has become the largest group of consumers—they are not a small piece of the pie,” Beal says.
And because of their spending power, Gen Z can either make or break your business. Below, Beal reveals his findings on the misunderstood generation and provides tips on how to adapt marketing tactics to attract the next generation.
As told to Abby Patterson
What did your findings say about Gen Z?
There’s a quote that the chief marketing officer of MTV said in a conference a couple of months ago that I use all the time: “They are the first generation that learned to swipe before they could wipe.” While that phrase often inspires laughter, the idea is that they have had technology in their hands since the age of 1.
As far as attracting Gen Z, it’s important to bare in mind they don’t consume traditional media virtually at all. Instagram is by far their favorite social media channel—not even close to others—and that is primarily due to the fact that they love Instagram stories. More than 20 percent of Gen Z is tuning in to Instagram Stories every one to two hours. Above all, 60 percent of my participants said their preferred social media channel was Instagram.
They also love YouTube; more importantly, they love DIY videos on YouTube for tutorial videos. About 87 percent of Gen Z is consuming YouTube channels weekly for content.
They don’t use Facebook. They might have an account, but it’s the lowest-ranking social media channel. Of all the Gen Zers I surveyed, less than 5 percent would say that Facebook is their preferred social media channel.
Why is it important to pay attention to consumers of this generation?
The oldest Gen Zers are now making decisions on their own—leasing or buying a car; earning a steady paycheck to go and get that car repaired; and are turning to friends and family for advice on where to go to get the repairs. Over the next 15 years or so, personally, they will make or break a company with their influence.
Those that understand them will succeed and those that refuse to pay attention will be out of business.
What is the best way to attract Gen Z to your shop?
The first thing I tell every company I speak to is to not make the mistake to market to Gen Z. Again, they do not consume traditional media. Actually invite them and engage them into your business to create a Gen Z “incubator.” From a survey I conducted, 61 percent of respondents said, “give me a unique experience that I can immerse myself in, respond to, and share on social media.” Give them hands-on experience, let them try something out. It’s the idea of participating and sharing.
Don’t try to market to them using old media tactics. First, identify Gen Zers in your neighborhood who like cars, invite them in and collaborate. Have them be a part of a social group and pick their brains, asking, “What would you do to market your generation?”
And because Instagram is Gen Z’s platform of choice, brands can even start to sponsor and have content on their Instagram stories. Produce branded video content through social media and YouTube that’s engaging.