Articles for Retailers


 

How to Connect . . .
with Millennials and Generation Z
by Rich Kizer & Georganne Bender

from June 19, 2019 eNews

Every retailer these days is talking about the importance of attracting younger consumers to their stores. Will they really dramatically change how we do business? In a word: Yes. But it’s not just Millennials that you need to think about, there’s another, younger generation coming of age behind them.

According the U.S. Census Bureau, Millennials have surpassed Baby Boomers as the nation’s largest living generation. Born 1980 to 1995, Millennials have always been a big part of conversation – they have always been asked for their opinion. We’re not so sure we buy the “everyone gets a trophy” theory, but we do know that Millennials have been encouraged by parents, grandparents, coaches, and teachers all of their lives.

Millennials were digital in diapers; their world goes 24/7. Ask a Baby Boomer what WWW means and they’ll say “World Wide Web”. Ask a Millennial the same question and you’ll hear, “Whatever, Whenever, Wherever” – they enjoy an interactive online experience. And why not? Remember sites like Build- a-Bear and Webkinz? Growing up, Millennials spent hours on those sites.



This means that your website must be interactive, not just a boring online brochure. Add project sheets, ideas, testimonials, lots of photos of finished projects, how-to videos, and more. Keep it interactive and fun. And be prepared to develop an app at some point in the very near future. According to eMarketer, American adults spent an average of 3 hours, 35 minutes per day on mobile devices in 2018; by 2019, mobile will surpass TV as the medium attracting the most minutes in the U.S. Makes sense, right? When did you last send a tweet from your desktop computer?

Millennials tell us in focus groups they rely on Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) pages on websites because they would much rather look online for information and answers than call a store and be placed on hold. Or be given the wrong information.

Texting is their favorite form of communication with friends and family, but not with you unless they opt-in first. For communications with their favorite retailers, email does the trick. We recommend that you send an email blast every 10-15 days, and make sure they include more photos and less copy. BIG photos. And customers should be able to make purchase decisions based on your subject line alone. If you include offers or coupons they need to be redeemable via cellphone – asking customers to print coupons in 2019 is a rookie mistake. Be authentic and get to the point. In a recent survey 41 percent of Millennials said the main reason they abandoned content was that it was too long. TMI, dude.

Generation Z: The Zeds

In many ways Millennials and Generation Z (born 1995 to 2010) are similar, but there are also big differences. Gen Z – the Zeds – will enjoy a lifelong use of technology. Millennials had to first explore the Internet using their parent’s desktop or laptop computers, but Zeds have always had the ability to carry the internet around in their pockets Millennials are said to use three “screens” on a regular basis; Zeds use five: a smartphone, television, laptop, desktop, and an iPod/iPad. Both generations are masters of the “second screen”, using another device to augment first screen content. Think watching TV while on Instagram, watching other content on a different screen during commercials, or updating your social medias while doing something else. Zeds are big multi-takers.

They have had technology at their fingertips all of their lives so its second nature to them. They look to the next big thing, which means you will have to come to their terms because they are not interested in yours. Your online content needs to be creative, relevant, and fun or Zeds will simply tune you out.

Texting and using apps like Snapchat have caused Zeds to develop “8 second filters”; they can take in tremendous amounts of information at one time, and lose interest just as fast. Even more so than Millennials, Zeds communicate in sound bites – long blocks of copy send them right to the delete button.

Zeds knew how to swipe before they could stand. Have you seen the YouTube video “A Magazine Is an iPad That Does Not Work”? It shows a toddler trying to open the pages of a magazine the same way she works an iPad. Screens have always been a part of her life, so much so that her father comments, “For my one year old daughter a magazine is an iPad that does not work. It will remain so her entire life. Steve Jobs has coded part of her OS (operating system).”

And you’re still using printed sales materials to sell to younger customers…

Zeds will change everything; these are entitled kids who expect great service. It’s not in your best interest to respond to the parent if the kid asks you a question. And here’s another shocker: by 2020 Zeds will account for 40 percent of all consumers. Currently, their average allowance is $16.90 per week; this translates to $44 billion a year. Lower the ATMs, the kid’s got cash!

Zeds aren’t just consumers, they are curators who catalog their lives online. Social media is where they go to discover stores and brands and products then evaluate them, share them, and rate them.

So, if you want to attract Millennials and Zeds you need to be on Facebook and Instagram, and maybe even Snapchat – its user base is over 100 million people. Share what’s happening at your store, take them behind the scenes, to Art Materials World, and the other trade shows you attend. Ask questions about how they use the product that you sell – be creative! Regardless of age, your job is to build relationships, connect with customers, engage them in conversation, and influence where they shop. Want to build long term relationships with younger consumers? Start now.

KIZER & BENDER | ALL RIGHTS RESERVEDRich Kizer & Georganne Bender are professional speakers, retail strategists, authors and consultants whose client list reads like a “Who’s Who” in business. Companies internationally depend upon them for timely advice on consumers and the changing retail market place. KIZER & BENDER’s observations are widely featured in national newspapers, national and international industry and consumer publications, and on radio and television programs across the U.S. You can learn more at www.KizerandBender.com.


 

Rich Kizer & Georganne Bender are professional speakers, retail strategists, authors and consultants whose client list reads like a “Who’s Who” in business.

KIZER & BENDER’s observations are widely featured in national newspapers, national and international industry and consumer publications, and on radio and television programs across the U.S. You can learn more at www.KizerandBender.com.