Move over millennials. There is a new, younger, more conscientious generation in town.
Generation Z, or those who were born between 1997 to about 2016, are the new “it” generation on multifamily executives’ radars these days. Just like there were key differences between their predecessors, the baby boomers, Generation X, and the millennials, there are characteristics you must understand about “Gen Z” before you can successfully market to them as a multifamily professional.
1. Gen Z felt the impact of a recession
Millennials were raised during economic prosperity (the 80s and 90s), while Gen Z grew up during the Great Recession of the late 2000s. Having watched family members and friends encounter unemployment and financial strife, this group is wary of the way they spend money.
Tip: When marketing to Gen Z, stress value and quality of your properties and be sure to offer plenty of deals and leasing specials.
2. Gen Z prefers to shop in store
Millennials might have killed the mall, but Gen Z is bringing it back. Gen Z likes to feel and see products in person as a type of quality check. They also like the idea of an in-store experience to augment their shopping.
Tip: Transform your marketing with events that bring your multifamily community together and spaces that encourage collaboration. And don’t forget to make it social media shareable.
3. Gen Z prefers authenticity
Whereas millennials prefer to rally around brands with a cause, Gen Z is more interested in authenticity. There’s no more getting by with heavily edited, staged, and photoshopped content. Furthermore, Gen Z has a nose for corporate fakery. Because they’re spending more time researching their decisions, Gen Z keeps up with what’s being said about your community online, and they have a discerning eye for when they are being sold to.
Tip: When marketing to Gen Z, advertise your property management company in a way that is real and attainable. Rethink photoshopped images, corporate jargon, and ideas that don’t reflect who they are as individuals.
4. Gen Z is marked by individuality and fluidity
For millennials, owning brand name products is what made them feel part of a larger group. Gen Z is the opposite. Independence is their hustle and social media is their community. And don’t loop them into racial or gender groups. They prefer to exist on a scale that is more representative of their diverse backgrounds.
Tip: When marketing to Gen Z, celebrate them as individuals while allowing them to be whatever and whoever they want without a focus on a narrow image. For example, on resident-facing marketing materials, highlight people of various life stages, backgrounds and walks of life.
5. Gen Z is entrepreneurial
Speaking of hustles, Gen Z has become more creative in how they earn a buck or two. According to a study by the Harvard Business Review, 70% of teens are self-employed, choosing to teach piano, monetize their social media activity, or something similar.
Tip: Your next marketing campaign could exist within your apartment community. Tap into influential community members with incentives, reuse user–generated content on social media, and encourage online reviews.
6. Gen Z is socially conscientious
Sure, millennials helped elect the first black president and legalize gay marriage, but experts are saying Gen Z is the one leading the movement. For Gen Z, these social advances are the norm, but fighting to sustain them is not.
Tip: If your property management company has not found its voice in the growing trend of corporate social responsibility; the time is now. Determine the goals for your company and find philanthropy efforts that match that. For example, if you’re company’s goal is to provide quality living, perhaps working with homeless shelters aligns with your vision.
7. Gen Z is more calculated on social media
By way of misuse and exploitation, millennials — the world’s digital pioneers — have paved the way for Gen Z — digital natives — to use social media responsibly. With safety and security at the top of their minds, Gen Z is more selective with the information they share online. They are even particular on which social channels to express themselves or connect with others.
Tip: You might have just mastered Facebook ads, but for your property management company to remain competitive, get ready to try advertising on other social channels like Instagram and Snapchat.
8. Gen Z is more global
Millennials were considered the first global generation because they shared similar characteristics and values across borders, and they were able to view significant global events in real time. However, Gen Z interacts with their global peers with greater fluidity, thanks to social media.
Tip: When marketing to Gen Z, highlight messages that represent a universal truth.
9. Gen Z has an even shorter attention span
Having never known a world without social media, smart devices, and high-speed internet, Gen Z is by nature multitaskers. The average attention span of an American today is eight seconds, making it even more challenging for marketers.
Tip: Be prepared to abbreviate marketing messages even more. And think more about how to use entertainment-like interactions to your advantage.
Generation Z may be young, but don’t dismiss the impact they’ll have on the multifamily industry. As the newest generation of renters, property management companies who act quickly and creatively to speak to this demographic have an opportunity to see payoffs.