How Best To Connect With The Younger Generation

How Best To Connect With The Younger Generation
Zuko Mdwaba, Salesforce South Africa.

Generation Z values corporate social responsibility and brand advocacy. They are a generation that are sceptical of business and are not hesitant to speak up in order to demand change. As a customer, they want brands to join them in speaking out, and those that do will earn their loyalty and money. Industry experts share their advice on how to best connect with the younger generation.

The purchasing power of Generation Z is growing, and if your company isn’t paying attention, you could be missing out. Engaging with this savvy generation, however, necessitates a different approach than when interacting with their elder peers.

Gen Zers feel they can make a difference, and they expect the companies they support to believe the same. This requires more than just words; it also requires action.

1. Ambassadors for change

For Generation Z, activism is not a recreational pastime. They are who they are because they recognise the value of social justice in their lives. As a result, brands that ignore them will suffer.

‘Generation Z share similar values and interests,’ Zuko Mdwaba, Area Vice President, Salesforce South Africa, said, ‘They understand the concept of a global society and are good at building connection, and communicating with clients where they live, which is online, especially on social media platforms, is critical.’

Giving helps young people cope with the suffering they experience as a result of global disasters. It enables them to connect with one another and with the issues that matter to them. This is a smart audience, said Mdwaba, who can detect insincerity or empty statements. ‘They are hoping for change. Once you’ve built these relationships, they’ll become ambassadors for your message.’

2. Authentic connections

‘Now, more than ever, we need to feel connected to one another. That feeling extends to our brands, and how they define our digital and real experiences. Gen Z has their finger on that pulse, knowing that what a brand does is more important than what they say they do,’ said Glenn Gillis, CEO of Sea Monster.

Glenn Gillis, Sea Monster.

It used to be that customers had to prove their loyalty to companies. Now it’s the other way around. In fact, most loyalty schemes are only reward schemes, where your attention and spend is motivated by short-term, extrinsic motivation. That’s not a bad thing of course; we all love free stuff and, thankfully, these offers are now more data-driven, relevant and contextual.

But true loyalty comes when we are also intrinsically connected to a brand or organisation. Driven by creativity, self expression and a sense of shared purpose, we seek out experiences which make us part of a community. We need to belong.

Our time and attention matters to us (it’s all we have really), and it should matter to our brands – not in a way that leads to exploitation, but one that leads to authentic connections, the kind of connections that Gen Z seem to want and respect from brands.

3. Conscious consumerism

According to Jonathan Hurvitz, CEO of Teljoy, the shift to more conscious consumerism is primarily driven by Generation Z. Hurvitz added that research shows that this cohort of consumers desire a minimalist, low-impact lifestyle. As users rather than owners, they want to enjoy a product without having to worry about its environmental impact.

‘By subscribing to a product for as long (or as little) as it is needed, whether it is office furniture while they are working from home or a seasonal appliance such as a gas heater, they feel as if they are doing their bit to minimise their carbon footprint and reduce waste. ‘Companies that offer this flexible model that meets customers’ specific needs, will satiate Gen Zs’ desire for a more transient, experiential lifestyle while they do their best for the planet,’ added Hurvitz.

4. Environmentally conscious

Gen Z are keenly aware of causes and are hugely environmentally conscious, said Tshepo Matlou, Head of Marketing and Communications at Jurni. ‘As you improve your sustainability practices, get the word out. Share it on social media, using hashtags to appeal to eco-conscious consumers,’ he advised.

Tshepo Matlou, Jurni.

5. Meet the Gen Zs where they are

Head of MiWay Blink, Christiaan Steyn said business needs to meet Gen Zs at the place of their comfort. ‘Gen Zs don’t like barriers. They’ve been exposed to an influx of information more than any other generation before them and their approach to business reflects it.’

Because of the enormous inflow of information coming their way from the moment they opened their eyes, compared to their Millennial sisters and brothers, Gen Zs are used to having their world revolve around access to and processing of information. This generation is active in their quest for authentic services and customer experience when they spend and, as a result, they look up everything online.

‘This is a generation that goes digital everyday. Most of their interactions with brands, and the outside world in general, is digital. To resonate with them, we meet them where they already are – at their place of comfort, digitally. This is a convenient space for us because we are a fully digital insurance provider,’ he explained.

6. Savings savvy

Gen Zs are the most savings-savvy generation, said Tony Mallam, managing director of upnup. ‘Not only are they looking for innovative ways to save, they are more likely to consider non-traditional investment options. In fact, cryptocurrency is the second most common investment for this generation, after stocks and ahead of mutual funds. Having grown up with digital technology, Gen Zs embrace fintech and they are not afraid to engage with platforms that offer varied opportunities to build their investment portfolios.’

A generation with influence

According to a recent Bloomberg survey, Gen Zs have a purchasing power of R560,737,296 ($360 million), and businesses would be foolish not to incorporate this demographic into their marketing efforts. They are a generation with enormous influence, but for a business to reap the benefits, it is crucial to understand what resonates with this audience.