Generation Z consumers are different than those in other generations—including millennials—according to a Women’s Executive Leadership Forum on the subject, held in New York City on Oct. 27, sponsored by the Women’s Jewelry Association and Citizen Watch America.
Mark Beal, a Rutgers University professor of practice in public relations who has specialized in Generation Z, defined the cohort as encompassing those born between 1997 and 2012, which means some Zoomers are not yet teenagers.
Even so, “if you don’t invest in [marketing to] Gen Z now, you’ll be out of business in 10 years,” Beal said. “These are your future customers, your future brand advocates. They can’t be ignored.”
Below are 11 insights about Gen Z from the panel.
– You can’t sell to Generation Z without talking to them.
“This is a generation that you can’t casually date, you have to make a commitment to them,” said Carla Wilke, chief marketing officer for Citizen Watch America. “Then, you start to engage in an active dialogue with them and see where you have permission to play. It may not be the place where you think you have permission to play. Once you start to engage with Gen Z, ask them, collaborate, experiment.”
One key entrance point: knowing how many of your customers are members of Generation Z. Citizen always asks its customers for their gender and age range when they register a Citizen watch.
“You can learn a lot by talking to the customer, by asking them,” said Rob Harvath, vice president of consumer insight and data management for Citizen Watch America. “We’re very careful with [their] data, but it does help us to know who our customer is, how many of them are Gen Z, and what we can do to work to grow that business.”
– They like to see brands be “adaptive,” “authentic,” and “creative.”
Generation Zers “pride ourselves on being adaptive,” said David Williamson, a Rutgers graduate student who spoke on the panel. “We want to see that from our brands as well. The perfect example is the COVID-19 pandemic. We were college students, and we had to adapt and learn and live through that.”
Another panelist, Naamah Barbut, a Rutgers undergrad, said she favors brands that are “creative, authentic, that hVoir l’articleave a purpose, and always try to push two steps forward.”
– You have to grab their attention quick.
You must be “able to create advertisements that are visual but also short,” said Williamson. “We consume a lot of media through YouTube, through social platforms. When the ads are very short, I’m more enticed to watch those, compared to a 20-second ad that I can skip after five seconds.”
He said his attention span for most ads was about five seconds.
– They want to feel like they’re “part” of the brand.
“They want to be advocates for your brand, they want to promote the great things the brand is doing,” said Beal. “Loyalty in the past might have been, ‘I’m going to stick with this company, I’m going to continue to purchase their products.’ That is still transactional.”
Gen Zers “want to be part of the brand, part of the family of this brand, that they’re immersed in this brand, that they have a stake in this brand.”