Defining a Generation
While you may be just getting a handle on Millennials, Gen Z is coming and you don’t want to be caught unprepared. Some define Gen Z as anyone born between 1998 and 2008, but generally anyone born after 1995 is part of this generation. While Millennials were the first generation raised on the World Wide Web, Gen Z was raised on social media and their marketing preferences showcase this difference. With a shorter attention span and a prioritization of the “now”, companies need to grab their attention fast while making sure their own message has meaning. This generation has passion and purpose, and they expect the brands and companies where they spend their money to be about more than just the bottom line.
The Gen Z Renter
As Gen Z enters the multifamily housing market, they’re looking for properties to meet their needs and catch their attention. At the top of their list of priorities are affordability and stability. Growing up in a post-9/11 world, this generation craves stability, and fears the idea of constant rent increases or property sales leading to a revolving door of property managers or ownership changes. Affordability is always a concern for renters, but Gen Z is willing to sacrifice fancy amenities in the name of saving for their future. An overwhelming majority of the Gen Z population believes in homeownership and sees renting as a stepping stone to that future. In that vein, to develop apartment homes that will seem worth the cost to these renters, consider investing in specific amenities that will appeal to their nature. Among these are fiber internet and connected appliances. As the most wired generation, they value things such as smart thermostats and lighting, keyless locks, and electronic security systems. Gen Z applicants will often check the strength of a wireless signal during an apartment tour, as staying connected to the internet is assumed to be just a crucial as running water.
Another desire of Gen Z renters is instantaneous customer service and turnaround times for issues, especially maintenance concerns. In contrast to the millennial generation who preferred text messaging, Gen Z prefers chat messages, as this allows them to interact quickly and easily while remaining private. Emailing, calling, and office visits are becoming a thing of past, so in order to meet the needs of this rising generation, your property will need to incorporate chats into resident interaction. This may be overwhelming to property managers as they already have so much on their plates. There are a plethora of resources to utilize, for example, this is where a chatbot service may come in handy. With 90% of teens in the United States using a form of chat to communicate, it’s easy to see that is where the future is heading. Integrating chatbots into your renter interactions to handle basic customer service and maintenance issues can help you not only save time but also retain residents by meeting their needs more effectively.
To reach this new renter, it will take new and creative marketing techniques. Generation Z is highly visual with short attention spans. They prefer video to text in advertising and nothing quite highlights this point like their use of YouTube. An astounding 93% of this generation watches YouTube and they log on at least once a week. This is an opportunity for you to move beyond the website toward marketing campaigns that are more in line with the social media platforms that Gen Z tends to connect with, such as YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and even Facebook. Many companies have found success utilizing Instagram Stories or cross channel marketing via Facebook and Twitter. Snapchat is used by 77% of college students daily, so marketing on that platform has been not only successful, but necessary.
The Diversity of Gen Z
Possibly the most significant consideration in marketing to Gen Z is that they are the most ethnically diverse generation to date, with 47% identifying as ethnic minorities. Gen Z wants to see your understanding of this reflected in how they are communicated with, and where they live. It’s not enough to produce a diverse marketing campaign if your staff is not inclusive. This generation wants to make a difference in the world and they want to support companies that do the same. They believe that inclusion is important and these issues are all tied to how you market your property, and therefore how they perceive your brand. If you only have eight seconds to reach them, those eight seconds have to be meaningful and impactful. Thanks to social media and instant communication, this generation connects to real people and social media influencers more than celebrities, so crafting a campaign where they can feel the reality of living on your property and have an authentic experience will resonate more than a slick ad where they’re being sold on your amenities.
Many property management companies have made major investments to attract millennials, and are learning now that Gen Z will want something entirely different. You may have a marketing strategy that is working now, but remember, by 2020, Generation Z will make up 40% of all consumers and they are not like their predecessors. Social media, instant communication, social consciousness are huge parts of their lives and companies will need to understand these mediums in order to petition them successfully in marketing. Without adapting to this generation, you could be perceived as antiquated, out of touch, or unauthentic. Their dollars are tied not to amenities, but to values, and they will expect the same of your property company. By adapting to new forms of social media and communication platforms in your marketing, and committing to a full understanding of the differences of Gen Z, you will build a more effective marketing strategy to reach the next generation of renters.