5 ways for brands to engage with Generation Z

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Generation Z, born between 1996 and 2015, is fuelled by technology in all areas of their life. As a generation that has never known a world without the internet, their expectations are high – they want it to connect them, entertain them, sell to them and build their digital brand. And that’s just for starters. To Gen Z, there is no “internet” or “online.” Unlike their predecessors, they don’t see the digital world purely as a source for information, but rather as a way to stay connected to everyone, everywhere, all the time. Their connection to the digital world is so ubiquitous and seamless that the digital experience is their human experience, finds a new international study conducted by The Center for Generational Kinetics and WP Engine.

Gen Z is well on its way to becoming the largest generation of consumers by the year 2020. So how do businesses cater successfully to this internet-native generation with online services that meet with their requirements and keep them coming back? What’s needed is a change in mindset, tailoring online services to make them personalised and predictive. By reviewing their existing platforms, experimenting with new forms of communication and focusing on content, brands can forge meaningful relationships with Gen Z consumers – ones that will continue to develop as their purchasing power grows.

Embrace new tech

Gen Z has a powerful tech-centric view of the future. When thinking about how websites will function five years from now, more than three quarters (78%) of Gen Z believe that internet authentication will be done without keyboards via biometrics, 63% believe that everyone will have their own personalised virtual digital assistant (Siri, Alexa, etc.) for all their online needs and 78% believe that all software, websites and digital experiences will have digital learning and AI capabilities. By reviewing their existing platforms at the back end to ensure they are user-friendly and predictive, and regularly experimenting with new forms of technology, brands can make sure they are keeping up with these expectations.

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Don't neglect your website

Despite this generation’s eagerness to access the web using a myriad of different devices, they still show a clear preference for a company’s website over a mobile app when making purchases (69%). Gen Z has grown up in the hyper-personalised world of targeted advertisements and social platforms. 40% of Gen Z said they would stop visiting a website if it didn’t anticipate what they needed, liked, or wanted, and 38% would provide their personal data to enable a more personalised experience over an anonymous one. 

Gen Z is 25% more likely than Boomers and Gen X to choose a digital world where websites or apps can predict and provide what users need at all times. By providing personalised, convenient digital experiences to Gen Z, brands can ensure they remain both attractive and relevant, creating in the process not just one version of their website but as many as there are consumers using it.

Content matters

Close to a third (29%) of Gen Z prefer to be entertained by a company’s online content, in comparison to 94% of Baby Boomers who prefer to be informed. Meanwhile, nearly three quarters (74%) of Gen Z are more likely to purchase from a company that provides consistent and relevant content (videos, blogs, social media posts, magazines). 

Gen Z is also fiercely committed to authenticity when considering the brands they use and buy from. 82% of Gen Z trust a company more if the images they use are not photoshopped and 84% if they use actual customers in their ads. By providing entertaining content in a transparent way, brands can build a trusted connection with Gen Zers, encouraging them to share their experiences, albeit to specific people on specific channels – unlike Millennials who tend to see digital interactions as a communal experience to be shared more broadly.

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Be authentic

Gen Z values online authenticity much more so than previous generations, expecting it not just in the interactions they have with others through social media sites but from retailers as well. 39% of Gen Z want a retailer or shopping website to guarantee that reviews are from real people. And not only do they want these to be vetted and backed with a guarantee of authenticity, but they have a strong sense of scepticism and can spot imposters immediately. 

By giving Gen Zers the honesty and openness they demand, this generation will reward brands by sharing information about themselves, and are more than happy to be served digital ads, as long as they are authentic and personalised to them.

Stand for something

As shoppers, Gen Z demands that brands be both socially accountable and imbued with a sense of authenticity in their interactions. 65% of Gen Z are more likely to buy from a company that contributes to social causes, while nearly a third (30%) have stopped buying from a company that contributes to a social cause with which they disagree. It is no longer enough for brands to just provide a product or service. To form an emotional connection with the latest generation of shoppers, businesses must now identify and support the causes that matter to them too.

The online world represents different things to different generations. To Gen Z, their human experience is their digital experience and they are dependent on it. They believe the future will be personalised across websites, apps and platforms and they want to access those unique experiences in new and interesting ways. By understanding their expectations and connecting with them in the right way, brands can future-proof their businesses and win over a whole new generation of loyal customers.

Fabio Torlini, Managing Director of Europe at WP Engine