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How to connect with generation Z consumers

Demographic views mobile devices as an extension of themselves. 
Gen Z group standing against wall using their cell phones

Gen-Zers differ from millennials, gen-Xers and baby boomers in many ways –– making marketing to them more of a challenge. TextNow conducted a survey of 1,000 consumers between the ages 16 and 24 to reveal how companies and brands can reach this generation and capture their loyalty.

Engaging with Gen Z

There are a few characteristics of gen-Z consumers, who were born between 1996 and 2012, that may help marketers. For example, marketers may have more success reaching gen-Zers through their mobile phones. A whopping 98% of gen-Z consumers own a smartphone and spend an average of more than four hours on mobile apps, not including time spent gaming. In addition, the average attention span of a gen-Zer is just eight seconds, compared to 12 seconds for millennials. For brands, the bar is even higher – they have just 1.2 seconds to gain gen-Zers attention before they move on.

Furthermore, gen Z is more diverse – racially and ethnically – than any other generation, and they are on track to be the most educated. Already, gen-Zers make up 40% of all global consumers, and by 2031 the generation will earn more than millennials, making them an economic force. That means that understanding this generation is critical to retailers and brands that want to gain their loyalty.

“There is now an opportunity for brands to connect with this audience and build affinity in a transformative way. Gen Z prioritizes authenticity,” the report found. “Building genuine connectivity will help drive authentic communication channels and intuitive strategies that bring brands and gen-Z consumers together – creating stories and communities that become part of the brand ecosystem.”

The importance of values

Compared to other generations, gen Z is more vocal when it comes to social justice issues, and they place more importance on a brand’s authenticity and transparency. That means gen Z shoppers care about the ethics of a company in addition to their products. While many retailers have stepped up their diversity and climate change initiatives over the past few years, being transparent and consistent with these efforts and sharing values with gen-Zers will become even more critical over time. 

“Brand marketers need to emphasize authenticity and transparency when engaging with this cohort,” Ken Willner, chief growth officer at TextNow, said in the report. “Companies that can demonstrate purpose when connecting with gen Z will earn true engagement and loyalty, and our study has found that it’s one of the most effective ways to reach this coveted demographic.”

In addition, gen-Zers are more likely to make a purchase from a brand if their ad mentions:

  • Mental health advocacy (71%)
  • Public health and safety (66.2%)
  • Sustainability (65.8%)
  • Racial equality (58.9%) 
  • LGBTQ+ acceptance (53.5%)

Reaching gen Z

When it comes to ads in general, social media is the way to go for this generation, with ads on social media getting the most attention (36.9%) followed by those on YouTube (31%), according to the report. Overall, social media is the second-most important use of mobile usage for gen-Zers, following text messaging and calling. To effectively reach gen-Z consumers, marketers need to use a mix of social and mobile marketing, and view mobile devices as an extension of gen-Zers themselves. 

With so much power on social media, brands should be leveraging influencers to reach gen-Zers. More than 40% of gen-z shoppers are likely to purchase a product from an influencer’s sponsored post, the survey found. Plus, 44% of gen-Zers believe they have some influence themselves, even if it’s within their own social circles (23.9%). These shoppers also want to see real customers using products in social media ads and want influencers to have a real relationship with the brands they work with.

While reaching gen-Z on their mobile phones is the best method for brands to engage, “Gen Z is reluctant to give out their cell phone numbers for low-value rewards or incentives,” the survey found. However, for promotional emails and sweepstakes, gen-Zers are willing to trade their:

  • Email address (61%)
  • First and last name (54.3%)
  • Age (44.3%)
  • Cell number (36%)
  • Date of birth (31.9%)

With only 36% willing to give out their phone number, brands have to work hard to achieve the authenticity and incentives to gen Z.

Originally published at Retail Leader

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