Wait, don’t sigh just yet
This is kind of a one-hand, other-hand thing. On the one hand, good news! This isn’t yet another retail maundering on how to engage the oh-so-tricky millennial customer base. Thank goodness, right? I’m tired of millennials. I am a millennial! Still tired of millennials.
Other hand? Gen Z rises.
I wouldn’t blame you for a pre-emptive sigh of frustration. I mean, millennials have been a marketing nightmare – socially networked yet antisocial, brand-loving yet bargain hunting, plus half of us are broke or hamstrung with debt anyway.
I mean, short of Etsy maybe, and Apple because in the mid-80s Steve Jobs signed a midnight deal at a bayou crossroads and now people will never, ever stop buying shiny white iThings, who has even gotten a market foothold on millennials?
Here’s a secret just for you
Want to know a secret? You don’t have to care. Gen Z. 15 to 24. This very Turkey Day Week, your humble narrator enjoyed bird and board games with somebody in that bracket. As of January she’ll be on the right side of $50,000 a year.
Protip: you’re better off selling to her than, to pick an example completely at random, a 30 year old freelance writer. Millennials are great, but Gen Z is getting out of college and into the big, bad world. In the big, bad world, Gen Z? Kind of winning.
So what should you be doing? Three tips:
1. Get real. Millennials may favor digital, but Gen Z shops in the world. “Stuff, not experiences,” in the words of Business Insider. Even if you lack a meatspace presence, you need to get personal, and above all, get concrete. Communicate. Not least because…
2. They’re smarter than you. Smarter than me too, if it makes you feel better. Forget born after the founding of the Internet: Gen Z was born after Netscape. They’re the first no-doubt, no question generation of digital natives. They bring more identity, input and information to their decisions than anyone, ever. Be transparent, be helpful, and remember: when you make a sale, the fastest way to guarantee there won’t be a second one, is to try and sell them on something else. They knew what they were buying before they got up this morning. All you’re doing is taking time out of their day. So where’s the money?
3. Don’t upsell; involve. Check this study at Fitch.com. Shade out of date by now, but that happens when your topic is younger than Pokemon. Still worth reading every word, and the best of the best is the “good enough approach.” Gen Z are the apotheosis of informed shoppers. They know nothing’s perfect. That’s good news. When they bring you Widget X, trying to upsell to Widget X Plus will net you nothing but eyerolls and scornful emojis, because they considered and rejected X Plus last week. Instead, sell input. Sell involvement. Here’s your Widget X. Don’t forget: 99 cents, and an app will track your input and optimize your next update for free. Oh, and there’s a limited beta going for Widget 0.Y. Y comes out this summer, and the spots are going fast. URL and QR code’s on your receipt.
Let Gen Z tell you how to make your product what they want, and not only will you have a whole new set of metrics to optimize your product – for free – for the first time in the history of retail, you can forget “buyer’s remorse.”
Instead, have a generation of “beta happy,” with customers walking out the door scanning their receipts, not doing math and looking disconsolate, but smiling because they’re part of a cool new thing.