Four tips for small businesses trying to win over Generation Z

Generation Z, age

Generation Z, defined as those born between 1996 to 2010, are no longer just occupying the classroom. They’re now voting, drinking, working, paying taxes and making informed decisions on what brands and services to engage with.

Despite this, a lot of brands don’t realise that Gen Z’ers are a part of their potential customer base, therefore they’re overlooking them in their marketing and sales strategies. Businesses must be strategic in the way they carefully target this first generation of ‘digital natives.’

Here are my top tips to brands trying to engage with Gen Z:

1. Don’t just be online

Keep in mind that Gen Z has never lived in a non-digital world, so their attitudes towards technology are polarising with older generations like Baby Boomers and Generation X. A global study conducted by The Center for Generational Kinetics and commissioned by WP Engine revealed that 55% of Gen Z cannot comfortably go more than four hours without internet access, meaning online-only stores are no barrier when it comes to earning Gen Z’s trust.

When asked if they thought online-only companies were less trustworthy than solely brick-and-mortar businesses, 62% of Gen Z said no, which was more than any other generation. Gen Z prefers businesses with an online presence and a physical storefront, a clear reflection of the ‘clicks-to-bricks’ opportunities that many small businesses have identified and are capitalising on today.

2. Choose websites over apps

Whether it’s using chatbots for customer service or Siri to answer a question, Gen Z is paving the way when it comes to new ways to interact online. In saying this, research shows that Gen Z prefers using company websites over mobile apps when making purchases. This fact is true across all generations, with Baby Boomers leading the pack (89 per cent), followed by Gen X (87 per cent), Millennials (80 per cent) and Gen Z (75 per cent). This trend is predominantly due to the rise of ‘mobile friendly’ web pages, meaning it’s easier to scroll through websites on your smartphone as opposed to using an app.

3. Be authentic

“Brand authenticity” or “brand with purpose” are buzzwords all marketers are aware of and particularly reign true when determining the best ways to target millennials and Gen Z. As shoppers, Gen Z demands brands to be both socially accountable and imbued with a sense of authenticity in their interactions. Research shows that 63% of Gen Z are more likely to buy from a company that contributes to social causes while, conversely, 54% of Baby Boomers said it wasn’t as important.

4. Social media is everything

If Fyre, “The Greatest Party That Never Happened,” taught us anything, it was the power of social media marketing and selling a dream. This is a prime example of harnessing the “FOMO” attitude through influential marketing to a generation that can’t go more than four hours without the internet. It’s not surprising when you look at the powerful impact digital marketing and social media influencers have on a generation that’s due to be the largest group of consumers by the year 2020.

Generation Z is challenging and changing the rules of marketing, abandoning traditional media while spending hours on the internet and social media. If small businesses do not embrace this new era of social media, they will fall behind.

Mark Randall, Country Manager ANZ, WP Engine