We’ve all read numerous statistics, studies, and articles regarding the infamous “Millennials.” Over the last few years, this generation has reshaped the way we do business and even how we interact and communicate with one another.
One major industry that has been significantly impacted by the Millennial generation is commercial real estate, especially the retail sector. Millennials have changed the game with consumer shopping habits and buying preferences—retail real estate is still trying to catch up.
But now, we are seeing the emergence of the new kids on the block: Generation Z. And if preliminary studies are accurate, they too are altering the rules of retail. Here’s a little insight shared by one of Stirling Properties’ summer interns, Kylie. She gives us a real-life perspective on the mindset of Generation Z:
5 Dos and Don’ts of Reaching Generation Z
Generation Z (aka Post-Millennials, iGeneration, Founders, or Plurals) refers to those born roughly between the years 1995 and 2010. They currently make up 25.9% of the United States population and account for $43-44 billion in direct spending. By the year 2020, it is estimated that they will represent one-third of the nation’s population. Though the youngest members are still in first grade, their overall impact is extensive.
Due to the closeness in years between Millennials and Generation Z, it is easy to blur the line between the two. But as anyone who owned a BlackBerry ten years ago can tell you, a lot can change within a short period of time.
One of the biggest mistakes companies could make is treating Generation Z the same as the Baby Boomers, Generation X, or even the Millennials. Each generation is affected by their environment and receptive to different things, and Gen Z is no different. It’s a new time, and new tactics are needed to reach this market.
1. Do Embrace Social Media
Gen Z has never lived in a world without the internet. It is estimated that 73% of Gen Z owns smart phones. We are comfortable with technology and use online platforms and social media for the majority of our communication. We expect to be connected to the virtual and physical world at all times. Your products must also have this dual existence. Euclid Analytics’ CEO Brent Franson says, “online is the efficiency, offline is building the experience…The king or queen of retail will master both online and offline.”
2. Don’t Make Them Wait
“I like my products the way I like my ACT results: quick.” A good friend of mine recently said this while explaining why he loves Amazon. Generation Z is used to instant gratification and impulsive decisions. We are used to having the answers immediately at our fingertips, and something just as simple as a long load time, a difficult to navigate website, or long lines will turn us away.
3. Do Get Influencers
The influencer marketing platform, MuseFind, discovered that 92% of consumers trust an influencer more than an advertisement or traditional celebrity endorsement. This is because influencers are authentic. They are everyday people using Snapchat, YouTube tutorials, or blogs that we have built relationships of trust with. We follow their stories and rely on their opinions as real people just like us. Although, as soon as the authenticity is gone or the content is poor, we will unsubscribe and move on.
4. Don’t Rely On Brands
Brand loyalty is not the same as it once was. With so much information flooding in, we are not blind lambs waiting for directions. If a brand has shoddy workmanship, the name won’t save it. The price should be reflective of the value, and if it is not up to standard, Gen Z is not afraid to switch brands. Also, keep in mind, Gen Z is big into individualism and creating our own personalized brand, we don’t want to be walking advertisements.
5. Do Be Transparent
If your company is hiding skeletons in the closet, be prepared to start cleaning. Through sites such as Yelp, transparency is more relevant today than ever. Prospective customers can learn everything from where products are made, to what a company stands for, and all of this matters to Gen Z. Kyle Andrew, the CMO of American Eagle Outfitters, says, “Gen Z seems to really care about engaging with brands that have values that align with their own…You can’t just make stuff: You have to stand for something.”
Businesses must be prepared now to change their traditional methods to appeal to this next generation, because they may not get a second chance. The online group committed to building a better world, EY, says, “Gen Z’s low threshold for mistakes and ‘system issues’ will make Millennials look like patient saints.”
As the world changed for Millennials, it must change once again. Gen Z is informed, impatient, and fast paced. And they are quickly becoming the largest generation with significant buying power. If companies don’t begin adapting now, they may never be able to catch up.