Gen Z Marketing Is Going Retro
Gen Z marketing needs to go as retro as its audience: being value-driven, providing affordable value, involving print in daily life and presenting in-store shopping experiences.
In other words to reach Gen Z, marketers should know that everything old is new again. The generation that will account for 40% of consumers and $4 billion in discretionary spending within the next two years loves print marketing and 98% of them buy products in stores some or most of the time. But most importantly, their values matter more to them than price — despite how heavily having grown up during the Great Recession weighs on them, new research finds.
In a study replete with ’80s graphics, MNI Targeted Media Inc. — a division of the Meredith Corporation — released the white paper “Generation Z: Unique and Powerful” on Monday.
“This generation is always ‘on’ and they expect everything to be available in seconds,” said Vicki Brakl, VP Marketing of MNI Targeted Media Inc., in the research announcement. “Marketers who consistently provide value and relevancy in their messaging, and their corporate actions, will earn Gen Z’s respect and dollars.”
Values Drive Gen Z's Conversions
Gen Z will respond to brands that understand their identities, purpose, and values. Marketers can determine these from Gen Z’s habits, interests and activities. And if marketers don’t get authenticity right, Gen Zers will dismiss any messages that lack the right tone, language and relevancy.
MNI’s research announcement further reads:
“They are a generation driven by values, with 68 percent identifying that doing their part to make the world a better place is important to them, and this directly impacts their buying behavior.”
One way to create messages that are authentic to Gen Z is to weave in customer voices. MNI says user-generated content drives engagement and creates brand identity.
Print Marketing Is an Uninterrupted Customer Experience
Despite, as MNI reports, this generation expecting service within seconds because its never lived without the Internet, technology is also perhaps why Gen Z values print channel experiences. This marketing — and they do value relevant marketing — can be consumed without the kinds of interruptions that plague digital customer experiences.
The MNI research shows 61% of the Gen Z respondents “think their generation would benefit from unplugging more,” but fewer follow through on that belief: “47% intentionally put their phones away at least once a day.”
The MNI research announcement provides this thought about the 83% who “turn to newspapers for trusted information and content, and 34% [who] turn to magazines”:
“Gen Z may breathe new life into print — preferring to use newspapers and magazines [without] interruption and trusting these publications over other media to deliver credible information.”
Their older friends are almost as nuanced, says a survey released on April 26 by FedEx Office, “a leading provider of convenient, state-of-the-art printing, packing and shipping services and a subsidiary of FedEx Corp.”
FedEx Office found 90% of all consumers prefer to read printed materials vs. digital screens and:
“Despite the familiarity with digital, nearly half of Millennial respondents (ages 18-34) reported having something professionally printed at least once a month.”
Price Is the No. 1 Factor to 72% of Gen Z
Values matter to this generation, but they won’t buy if the price isn’t right. The Great Recession and the jobless recovery impacted them greatly — to the point that MNI reports 60% of them have a savings account. So it’s not that they’re buying from the competition — it’s that they’re not buying at all if they don’t get what they want.
“They saw their parents’ net worth fall by over 40%. Gen Z knows how to live in survival mode,” David Stillman, Gen Z expert and founder of GenZGuru.com, told us in an exclusive interview.
They will price-check on their phones in stores, and want to buy quality goods — so affordable products, not cheap ones. MNI says of price and quality: “Effective marketing will weave both into messaging.”
In-Store Experiences Need to Be Omnichannel
While the in-store experience may be Gen Z’s interpretation of “unplugged from technology,” they’re using their phones here, too.
Just as they see identity as fluid, they see bringing digital experiences into the real world as similar things, reads the MNI white paper. What 47% of them are doing on smartphones in the store is price-checking and contacting friends and family for advice.
The Gen Z research finds:
“Digital and physical aren’t separate to Gen Z—they work together. They’ve seen brands that started in e-commerce then moved to brick and mortar, like Warby Parker and Birchbox. And while 60% of Gen Z shoppers prefer to go into a store over shopping online, 75% of them also check a store’s app while they’re shopping there (Source: GenZGuru.com). Crafting your marketing to capture this audience and adding new features like AR to your app can go a long way.”
What do you think, marketers?
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Related story: Best Ways to Message Generations, From Baby Boomers to Gen Z