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Marketing to Gen Z, party of one

by Joni Sweet
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    Generalized marketing is out. Gen Z demands an individualized experience that leverages technology to predict their needs and wants—and they’re willing to trade their personal data for it.


    It’s time to kiss blanket marketing goodbye. If you want to appeal to Gen Z, you have to target them as individuals. This is a generation that has had technology at their fingertips since birth. Only the brands that leverage technology to learn about Gen Zers as individuals and respond with marketing strategies that create a one-on-one relationship will succeed in attracting this “famously fractured” group.  

    Pull the plug out from the generalized marketing strategies of previous decades and start getting personal. Here’s what Gen Z expects from technology and personalized marketing.

    Gen Z will trade data for personalized digital experiences

    The Internet has disrupted privacy standards. Whereas older generations feel an intense need to protect their own data (a reasonable concern, considering the recent Facebook and Cambridge Analytica scandal), Gen Z is less phased by brands getting to know them. A recent survey of more than 1,200 people found that 44 percent of Gen Zs are willing to trade their personal data to turn an anonymous interaction with a website or social platform into a highly personalized experience.  

    If your brand isn’t using each customer’s data to market to them as individuals, you risk alienating a large portion of Gen Zers. In fact, 44 percent of Gen Zs say they’ll stop visiting websites that don’t predict what they need, like or want. Zs have a sophisticated understanding of your ability to use back-end data to glean insights about what they are shopping for, tapping on and engaging with. So if they accept your cookies, opt in to your emails and let you track their browsing behavior, they’re expecting you to give them something in return. It’s up to you to make sure you get to the heart of what each of your Gen Z shoppers really wants and needs, and to serve them up experiences that map accordingly.  

    Most importantly, if you don’t have a trove of behavioral data and you’re not sure what Gen Zers want, ask! They’ll be more than happy to tell you through surveys and other research methods if it means a more personalized experience.  

    Gen Zs want personalized marketing to feel human

    It’s a fact: The cool factor of technology hasn’t worn off for Gen Z, even though they’ve never known a world before the Internet. But they also know that real people are behind every digital engagement they have, whether that’s an online shopping experience or checking out a brand’s social media presence. Polished marketing efforts that let the human side of your brand shine through will make the experience feel more personal and engaging to Gen Zs.

    Just take a look at how Gen Z feels about online reviews. Almost half of Gen Zers want a guarantee that reviews on a brand’s website were written by actual people (not bots or compensated reviewers), while just 23 percent of Baby Boomers express the same concern. An overwhelming majority of Gen Zers also say they expect connected processes, like seamless handoffs between departments and engagements that take into account previous interactions. Canned responses just don’t cut it anymore.

    Projecting authenticity and humanity through your marketing efforts will help create that one-on-one connection Gen Z customers crave. Don’t be afraid to greet them by name in your emails and use each customer’s preferred gender pronoun, but that’s just the starting point. It’s even more important demonstrate your brand’s humanity through personalized service: give them tailored recommendations, remember their preferences, introduce them to causes you think they’ll care about and help them find exactly what they need.

    Gen Zs expect tech will only get even more personal

    When it comes to Gen Z’s expectations of personalized technology, the sky’s the limit. More than three-quarters of Gen Zs believe that all software and websites will eventually integrate artificial intelligence and learning capabilities, and that the Internet will constantly influence our view of the world through augmented reality experiences in the future. Biometrics, like facial and speech recognition, will trump traditional keyboard-based authentication, according to 80 percent of Gen Zers. And 72 percent predict that everyone will use a personalized virtual assistant (hey, Siri!) to help them take care of their to-do lists.

    Want to keep your brand fresh in the minds of Gen Zers? Start playing with experimental new technology to create personalized experiences to fit their wants and needs. Remember: Gen Z is a party of one, and proud of it.

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