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Using Technology to Prepare for Gen Z

on October 04, 2016

Are you sick of hearing about millennials? Then you’ll be glad to hear there’s a new generation on the horizon.

The junior generation, Gen Z, is growing up—and fast. In just a few years, they’ll be in the workforce and major players in the consumer base. If you are just getting a handle on millennial marketing, prepare to pivot again; Gen Z offers a few fundamental differences from its older counterparts. Here’s what you can do to prepare.

Embrace the Digital Narrative

Millennials are the inaugural technology generation because the internet really took off during their childhood and teen years. Everyone in Gen Z, on the other hand, is a digital native. As such, they expect everything to be online, accessible, and on demand. They don’t know a time before high-speed internet, and they consume most media and information via applications and social media outlets. They tend to be very brand conscious, live their lives publicly, and put heavy stock in the user experience.

Prepare for their arrival by making some tweaks to current technology:

  • Turn your mindset to “omnichanneling.” Businesses should focus their energy on every screen—mobile, tablet, computer, TV, and wearables.
  • Focus on user-generated content. Let Gen Z customers engage in authentic experiences rather than sending out the typical email-blasts. A case in point: A Marriott in Charlotte, North Carolina, set out beta boards that allow guests to provide feedback instantaneously on every aspect of their hotel stay. Did you think your check-in process was a hassle? Give it a thumbs down. Did you love your room service? Give it a thumbs up. Businesses can learn from this marketing technique to create unique experiences that engage this newest population of consumers.

Leverage Technology for Recruitment

The statistics about Gen Z are sobering: In a recent survey, 83 percent of respondents reported that three years or less was the optimal time to stay at a first job, while over a quarter said that less than a year was appropriate. This is bad news for employers, who estimate they spend $10,000 to $15,000 to replace employees through recruitment and training. To recruit and retain quality Gen Z employees, businesses should:

  • Allow flexible scheduling and a healthy work environment. Gen Z grew up learning about climate change, the obesity epidemic, and the challenges of recession. Millennials have imbued them with an entrepreneurial spirit. Employers should provide options for telecommuting and flexible work and should demonstrate a commitment to sustainable work practices and employee health.
  • Be more flexible with collaboration methods. Gen Z is used to communicating through a variety of applications. Balance your workplace communications with a variety of real-time messaging tools and email.

Use Big Data and Social Media

Data will continue to be a major player for retailers and recruiters interested in creating customized content. Businesses and retailers should leverage big data to gain insights on Gen Z and tailor their messaging, products, and services accordingly.

Above all, businesses should learn to embrace transparency as an integral part of their social media presence. According to a survey by Marketo, Gen Z is chock-full of do-gooders: A quarter of 16- to 19-year-olds volunteer, while 60 percent want a job that will leave a positive impact on the world. Businesses should use this information to create positive business practices and participate authentically on social media.

Engaging the newest crop of employees and consumers won’t be easy—but since Gen Z will soon represent 40 percent of the consumer base, they’re worth the effort.


Photo Credit: aleksey_mezentsev Flickr via Compfight cc