Meet your new customers: Gen Z

Many of them would prefer working wifi over a working toilet and they’re set to be 40 percent of your customers within two years: meet Gen Z.

While many small business owners are getting to grips with millennial customers and workers, over the next few years, Gen Z (those born after 1997) will start to hit the market in droves.

According to media agency MNI Targeted Media, Gen Z is coming up so fast that by 2020 they’ll account for 40 percent of all customers in the US.

In Australia and NZ, they’re not far behind.


Those businesses who are prepared are set to reap the windfall of changing expectations – so, what do you need to do to make sure you’re meeting their expectations?

So, what do they want?


They *expect* tailored offers and advertising


If you think about a Gen Z member as being 20 years old, they’ve actively been advertised to as somebody with disposable income for about four years.

In those four years, the huge trend in advertising has been hyper-tailored and hyper-targeted messaging and offers – based on what they’ve searched previously.

On Netflix, they’re being recommended shows based on what they’ve watched previously and what they may like according to the reams of data they have on other customers like them.

So, they now expect a tailored offer. Just giving them a vanilla, generic offer isn’t enough.

You need to make sure what you’re offering them is (or at least seems to be) bespoke.


They are self-aware, and socially conscious


While this has been an underlying trend with millennial customers, half of all Gen Z customers stated that knowing a brand is socially conscious influences a purchasing decision.

The difference is that with millennials, a brand having a social conscience is a nice to have, with Gen Z it’s almost essential that you’re standing up for what you believe in.

Brands, traditionally, have been shy about speaking out on social issues because they risk alienating their customer base – but now the paradigm has shifted.

It means that your brand or business needs to have its heart on its sleeve – the age of fence-sitting is over.

If your demonstrated social values align to that of your customer or potential customer, you will have a greater opportunity for them to connect with you not only on a transactional level but an emotional level.


They’d rather working wifi than a working toilet


If you don’t have any sort of digital presence, you’re dead.

While millennials grew up during the digital revolution, Gen Z simply don’t know a time before everything became digitally connected.

The World Economic Forum (leveraging research from EY) has even suggested 40 percent of Gen Z customers think a working wifi connection is more important than working plumbing – internet access, to them, is a vital utility.

Growing up connected means they’re great at searching information out for themselves – so coming to the customer from a place of inauthenticity will mean that they’re likely to pass you over.

To meet the desire of a digitally native customer you need to be easily searchable on digital platforms and you need to be authentic and transparent in your dealings with them.


They’re shy with their money


The world looks very different to somebody who is 20 years old rather than 30 years old.

Gen Z has grown up in a world of near-constant disruption and headlines about AI and robots taking all their jobs.

The political situation, to them, seems less stable than it’s ever been – and accordingly, they need to be convinced to spend their money.

They are more risk-averse than millennials, so frivolous purchases seem just that – frivolous.

To a business, this simply means that your pitch for their money needs to be absolutely on-point.


They have no brand loyalty


If you want to keep a Gen Z customer, you’re going to have to work hard at every interaction point to make sure they’re getting the best service possible.

EY found that Gen Z customers expected goods to be delivered to them rather than them having to come to you – and that in a world awash with choice those who don’t deliver will find themselves on the outer.

No longer will customers be yours for years out of routine – being digitally connected from birth has made them feel empowered about the choices they’re making.

They also have a curiosity born of having all the information at their fingertips from birth, so are likely to try new things out.

For businesses, it means getting stale is death. However, it also means that if you’re able to switch things up on a regular basis you may have a shot at attracting wandering wallets.