#Growth Roundtable roundup: Marketing to Gen Z and Millennials to create lasting customer relationships

Marketing
Oct 26, 2021
Henry Bewicke
Henry Bewicke
Content Writer
Min to read

We recently hosted industry experts for a special roundtable in Soho House, Berlin, in collaboration with MoEngage. With contributions from Adviqo, Divante, OptioPay, FreeNow and others — including our own CEO Christoph Gerber — it was an in-depth look at the challenges and opportunities in creating lasting customer relationships with Gen Z and Millennial consumers.

The new generation of marketing leaders is becoming younger and more diverse. With this welcome shift in profile comes a variety of new insights and inputs — something that is upending our assumptions about how to run marketing campaigns and retain users.


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What was the aim of our roundtable discussion?

Bringing together marketers, agencies, and strategists, we wanted to facilitate an open exchange of ideas. By seeing what works for our experts across industries, we hoped to spark ideas and find where we could use our common ground to uncover growth opportunities or spot emerging tactics.

Our discussions centered around how best to find the channels that perform for Gen Z audiences, what tactics work for retention and loyalty for young people and how you target the Gen Z demographic.

What channels work best for Gen Z?

It’s a tired observation, but having a data-driven approach is essential in modern marketing. The first step is to decide what your Gen Z persona looks like, either from direct market research or by hiring external consultants who specialize in this area. With this information, it’s time to start fishing in the pools where Gen Z are active. Within your existing channels, be specific in your segmentation but don’t be afraid to try newer channels and experiment with your marketing mix.

Sites like TikTok have a very unique tone and set of norms, but if you can adapt your message so it resonates with the active userbase, there are great results to be found.

Once you’re running campaigns, track your key KPIs or run incrementality campaigns to ensure you’re on the right track in terms of your targeting. 

When deciding on messaging for these channels, try thinking about a sustainability focus — both in terms of tone and channel selection. Gen Z are extremely passionate about climate change and the environment, so make sure your eco-credentials are up to scratch. Some of our experts find that Gen Z are also less likely to go to the bars and socialize. They meet at home or online and discuss topics — meaning that brands should take the opportunity to make themselves part of the conversation.

With Gen Z consumers also having strong passions for hyper local experiences, some experts had excellent results with old school flyering, with good responses from young people when handed promotional material by street teams. 

The challenge with marketing to Gen Z is the competition — not just with other brands but across channels. If you consider the motivations of the growing moves towards metaverse, Gen Z are across gaming, social, streaming and mobile channels with little to no loyalty to any individual channel. And when you’re creating content across a number of channels it can quickly become overwhelming, so creating systems to manage, distribute and optimize each channel is an imperative. 

Actionable advice for Gen Z acquisition channels

  • Keep data at the heart of your decisions
  • Experiment with new audiences on existing channels
  • Try and translate your brand message to new networks and experiences

How to build loyalty with a Gen Z audience and get their trust?

All our participants agreed that Gen Z users are highly active in mobile apps, but they don’t stick to one app, preferring to switch between many different options. Gen Z are characterized by wanting to try new things, but this translated to lower retention. 

How some experts have chosen to tackle this is to build trust with the Gen Z audience. Once that trust is established, it becomes easier to target them. Social proof is also highly important for Gen Z, so you’re not just building trust with the end user — but also their entire social circle.

 For this reason, campaigns are not always just about CLV but the voice volume - how much they talk about the product on their social media. This is sometimes as important as how many new users you acquire, because it builds trust and profile among the demographic. 

Some of our experts have found that Gen Z users are less likely to opt-in for subscriptions, a model that is increasingly the go-to for mobile monetization in other age cohorts. By building trust with the end user and building a buzzworthy brand, you can nudge users towards conversion, even if they’re initially hesitant to open their wallets. 

By considering loyalty and promotions at every level of the funnel, and including promotions across your entire growth framework, you can make Gen Z users feel seen and rewarded — and therefore more likely to choose your brand.

Actionable advice for building Gen Z customer loyalty

  • Build trust with Gen Z by giving them tangible rewards
  • Don’t measure campaign success purely by conversions — getting buzz among Gen Z will eventually translate to results
  • Use promotions and loyalty to nudge users to conversion

What are the challenges when hiring Gen Z?

The Gen Z demographic are growing into their professional lives at an unusual time. With their childhoods defined by the 2008 banking collapse and their adolescence marked by a rampant bull market, they have a very different perspective on careers to previous generations. They are looking for growing opportunities, and are willing to working hard once they find the place where they enjoy the mission and value the work. 

Our experts defined Gen Z as being much more brave than usual early career prospects, and they know what they want — so they go into the interviews with a lot of confidence.

With the post-COVID ‘great resignation’ and labor market forces at place, there a lot more choice in terms of roles, making them more picky and selective. Gen Z get approached for roles and the company needs to sell to them to convince them to join, rather than a habit of applying for jobs with CVs and dealing with rejections. 

This is combined with a proliferation of company review sites, and unprecedented amounts of information about firms — they have instant access to a lot of information and know how to use it. 

People and culture teams are highly important for hiring Gen Z. A lot of our experts agreed that if the team is happy — and this is something that is conveyed to the interviewee — prospects will want to join and more importantly, valued team members will want to stay. It's all about the people in the end.

In terms of remote work, for many people it is becoming non-negotiable. Some people are resigning rather than give up their remote work opportunities. Others will only return to the office for a few days a week. Whatever the new normal ends up being, it looks like the assumption that work equals an ‘office job’ is probably a thing of the past, and more Gen Z will work remotely than any previous generation in history. 

This poses new challenges in terms of maintaining company culture — but also retaining employees. Without the unique culture build in the office, some employees will never feel the same attachment to their place of employment as previous generations, meaning they are more willing to jump ship if the opportunity arises. 

Diversity is also no longer just a buzzword, Gen Z employees expect diversity and inclusion to be a key decision making factor at every level of the organization — including C-level. You should ask yourself if you are doing enough to ensure representation in your leadership team — because your prospects will ask if you don’t!

Actionable advice for hiring Gen Z employees

  • Pitch your company to employees and outline your mission
  • Offer remote work options
  • Ensure your people & culture team has the support it needs to maintain company culture despite increased remote work

Conclusion

Gen Z are now at the age where they comprise a large component of new joiners at every company. This will lead to a shake up as generational changes start to be reflected in both their buying patterns and their attitudes to work. To ensure you are not left behind by the generational shift, make sure to continuously keep your assumptions held loosely, and always go where the data leaves you. And by focusing on sustainability, diversity and an omnichannel presence, you can ensure you win the generational shift.

For more information on how generational factors can influence your marketing, check out our blog Millennials vs. Baby Boomers: Consumer Behavior and How It Influences Promotions.

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