Yes, this is another generation post but it has little to do with their personalities or things they aren’t doing. If you spent any time over the holiday with Gen Z, you may have noticed a few things about how they communicate using their electronics. If you talked to them about purchasing gifts, you may have learned some additional information about how they shop.
There are two big changes in the way they communicate and shop that will change how they interact with the chamber and your member businesses. We’ll cover those two big changes and a few other ripple effects in this article.
Who the Heck Is Gen Z?
It feels like we just started talking about them and if you’re like me, you envision them in middle school and high school. But the oldest Gen Z will be turning 27 this year. Eeek! That means they could be–and are–chamber members currently. They’re moving into jobs, looking for opportunities, and that means they’re increasing their buying power.
While the youngest of this generation is 12 this year, they’re moving into working age and since many of them want to be entrepreneurs, they should be on your radar now, not in a few years.
But what makes them so different? I’ll save you the talk about personalities and get right to what is the biggest difference for the business world–how they search and how they spend.
The first difference in this generation is that when they want to know something they’re searching on YouTube before Google. When my son wasn’t sure how to fix his TV or his phone was glitchy, he went straight to the popular video channel. Google doesn’t really care about this difference because they own both “properties.” But it’s something you’ll want to think about as a chamber and remind your member businesses of it as well. Without videos, you’re dead to them.
If you’ve been wondering whether you need to be doing Reels and TikTok, think about whether you want to appeal to this generation or not. If you want to add a minimum age for chamber membership of say 30, then forget about it–at least for the time being. But if you see a lot of potential and energy in young people, not to mention the future of your chamber (and you should), then you need to know another big difference in how they operate.
They prefer to get their information and products from social media. I saw this a lot at Christmas as we opened gifts. It was common that when a gift was shared some Gen Zer would inevitably say, “Oh yeah. I saw that on <insert name of a social media site>.” I didn’t hear one remark about seeing it in store or even on the website. Most of it was TikTok and Instagram.
That’s not to say you need to sell on social. But you and your businesses need to be on there, engaging in short video form. Gen Z needs to see you and may buy once they get to know you.
The other big change that is occurring with this generation is that they are migrating to apps for GCs (or for those of us who don’t speak in acronyms–group chats). If you picked up my teenagers’ phones and looked at the numbers they’ve called, you’d likely only see their parents. You might think they don’t have any friends.
Conversely, if you asked them to give you their besties’ phone number, they’d have a hard time pulling it up. And that’s not because they are as slow as I am navigating contacts. Nope. They don’t use phone numbers. They’re on apps like SnapChat and the like that allow them to create group chats, hidden from plain view.
If you don’t have teens or pre-teens you may be wondering why that matters to you. It matters because by moving from text and comments on social, it’s hard for an advertiser or a marketer to get in front of them. At least when kids were on Facebook you could run ads to get in their line of vision. Now, that they’re on community texting and group chat apps, marketing is more difficult.
They’re also watching video online, recording things, or watching live streams. Commercials aren’t getting the attention they once did. However, organizations like Amazon are still trying to insert commercials (with their recent announcement of Prime Video adding ads. Prime members will now have to pay if they want to be ad-free). Gen Z just wants to see video of people using things and talking about them but in an entertaining way (hopefully involving someone getting knocked down).
Fingers Are Fast But…
Additionally, Gen Z relies on voice commands over typing in search. Minds brighter than mine are already looking for ways to optimize content for voice search over typing. For instance, I might type “Best pizza place in Dallas” but my kids would say, “Hey Siri, best pizza.” When you’re creating content and writing video descriptions think of how someone would search for it as a command as well as a topic they’re keying. Plus, 80% of Gen Z’s search is done on a phone versus other devices so it’s critical to optimize your site for the best mobile experience possible.
Need a few additional ideas on how to appeal to Gen Z?
- Since we’re talking about Gen Z’s buying preferences, it’s necessary to note that they’ve identified sustainability as one of the most important things to them. And it’s apparent in their shopping habits. For instance, 80% of Zoomers (hey, I didn’t make that word up) buy second-hand goods and one third of them are now selling them. If you want to get Gen Z interested in your chamber, make sure you are talking about resiliency and sustainability. You may also want to consider how you can appeal to online sellers and freelancers by understanding their needs.
- In a survey by American Express Canada, 45% of Gen Zs polled said they were likely to spend more on a product or service when they knew one of their friends (or someone they knew) shopped there. If you want Gen Z to join the chamber, you need to get other young people involved and vocal about it.
- According to SurveyMonkey, 75% of Gen Z want to buy from brands who share their values. Know, like, and trust is evolving to know, like, and trust brands like me.
Yes, Zoomers are different (isn’t every generation) but it’s how they’re using tech and search and consuming video that has the biggest impact for chambers and businesses. If you’re serious about recruiting twenty-somethings, you need video and an understanding of their values. If you want to help businesses reach them, you have a lot of good information to share. Sounds like the next Lunch & Learn topic.