Identifying new, innovative ways to attract millennials likely is priority No. 1 in various company marketing departments. But while millennials are — and will continue to be — a key sales demographic, some companies are already looking past this cohort in the hopes of reaching America’s next generation of consumers: Gen Z.

This is the first generation of digital natives — people who never knew a world before the Internet, social media and mobile devices — and their buying and spending habits will be heavily influenced by how you appeal to them. Pro tip: Don’t group millennials and Gen Zers together as “young people.” These are two very different groups with different desires.

Here’s what you need to know about marketing to Gen Z.

Facts About Gen Z

Last year, a special panel at SXSW shared some interesting facts about Gen Z, which has been identified as the most ethnically diverse generation in U.S. history. Additionally, this cohort of young people whose attention span is said to last just eight seconds are:

  • More likely to watch content on YouTube compared to traditional television
  • Less likely to use Facebook compared to millennials
  • More influenced by an “online star” like Kylie Jenner than a traditional celebrity
  • More defined by fluid personal identities, meaning it will be difficult to develop marketing personas to attract them

So, given these statistics, what does Gen Z really care about from companies?

Customer Service

Shopping habits have changed, and many once-popular brick-and-mortar department stores are now closing their doors for good. Of course, this trend has nothing to do with the products and services these companies sell. More to the point, neither millennials nor Gen Z are keen on going to a giant shopping mall to buy something. Instead, they would rather go online and make a purchase in a matter of minutes.

Just look at something as simple as selling a mattress. Retailers like Mattress Firm are losing a big market share to specialty retailers like Casper and Tuft & Needle, who not only sell mattresses at a cheaper price point, but also dominate in delivering exceptional customer service.

Companies that develop new, engaging customer service tools are seeing this trend, too. Cloud contact centers, like those sold by Aspect, now include texting and social media engagement tools that companies can adopt to more easily communicate with younger customers. In fact, companies are more likely to receive a customer service complaint from a Gen Zer via Twitter versus a traditional phone call.

Scarcity and Exclusivity

We all want what we can’t have — and marketers can easily pick up on those cases of FOMO. Take Chick-fil-A, for example. The fast-food restaurant, which is famously known for being closed on Sundays, will sell its chicken sandwiches and more out of a rented concession stand at the brand new Mercedes-Benz Stadium, home to the Atlanta Falcons.

Wait, the Atlanta-based chain will rent space where a sport is played almost exclusively on Sundays? How does that make any business sense? For a company that was named the highest-grossing fast-food franchise in the U.S., according to QSR magazine, it makes perfect sense. For the few Monday or Thursday night games the Falcons host, Chick-fil-A will have lines out the door. Case in point: Leave your customers, especially younger ones, always wanting more.

The Sharing Economy

Using a ride-sharing service like Lyft or Uber can save you money — and provide better peace of mind when indulging in the nightlife scene — but that’s not the only reason people enjoy this mode of transportation. Companies part of the “sharing economy,” including Uber and AirBnb, give customers a real sense of ownership when they use these services.

Companies or industries that provide a service or product allowing consumers to both earn and spend money equals big business for the future of Gen Z. And if it’s a business that treats and pays employees well, then that’s all the more reason to market to a younger generation.

Debbie Miller
Debbie is the Founder and President of Social Hospitality where she assists clients with social media and content marketing. When she's not online, Debbie enjoys spending time with her spoiled dogs; watching movies; reading; and drinking copious amounts of coffee.
Debbie Miller