Maybe it’s the self-absorbed Millennial in me, but I was astounded to discover that there’s another generation on the rise. Known as “Generation Z”, this demographic is made up of those born between 1997 and 2003 and is defined as being self-aware, persistent, self-reliant, and innovative. Currently, there’s around 1.3 billion of them with a collective spending power of almost 44 billion dollars.
Having this buying power on your side would be very beneficial to your business, but there’s a slight problem: only 30% of these Gen. Z-ers say loyalty programs make a brand special or desirable. While this is a daunting reality, it doesn’t have to stay that way. The following are several key ways you can meet the needs of this up-and-coming generation and secure customer loyalty from Generation Z.
Optimizing Loyalty Programs for Generation Z
1. Omnichannel Experiences
Let’s start with the most obvious one: omnichannel. Much like Millennials, Z-ers are digital natives. This means that each of them are going to be using three to five different devices a day, making it crucial that your program be optimized and accessible on a variety of mobile platforms. With more people choosing to shop from their smartphones, an easy-to-use interface will resonate stronger than a beautiful desktop experience.
Getting your brand on social media is also key. Generation Z loves to share their experiences across mediums like Snapchat, Instagram, and Twitter, and are checking these platforms over 100 times a day. Placing your content where they spend their time will incorporate your brand into their daily routine, making your program both more accessible and more relatable.
2. Provide a Range of Rewards
Unlike many demographics before them, Gen. Z is empowered by their parents and teachers to make decisions. This means that your program has to provide them with the culture of choice they’re accustomed to. You can accomplish this by offering rewards across multiple categories including product, experiential, and charitable.
It’s also important to note that Generation Z appreciates discounts. In response to growing up during the worst recession since the 1930s, 57% of Z-ers would rather save money than spend it, with 77% indicating that loyalty programs should offer sales and discounts, and 80% requesting free shipping. Providing several options for these types of rewards in addition to those mentioned above demonstrates that you understand their preferences and will work to accommodate them, helping to further your relationship with your customers.
3. Create a Dialogue
Remember how I described Gen. Z as innovative? That means they’re looking for more than basic personalization – they want to be truly involved in designing their customer experience. More than ever, customers are demanding more opportunities to interact with brands, and a huge part of this is the creation of User-Generated Content (UGC).
UGC can include things like customer reviews and social media posts, but doesn’t have to stop there. Reach out to your Generation Z customers specifically and ask them what they want to see in your loyalty program. Chances are they’ll have a lot of ideas, and may want to be actively involved in implementing them. By giving your Gen. Z customers control of their own experience, you empower them to increase the attractiveness of your program to others and further strengthen the trust they’ve placed in you as a business.
4. Establish a Sense of Authenticity
Generation Z can smell BS from a mile away, so brand your program with authenticity. A clear explainer page will help you communicate your program’s benefits and will allow your customers to explore the ins and outs of your program without feeling like you’re hiding something. Trust is something you can’t buy, so make sure you’re doing everything in your power to build it.
Remaining active on each of your social media accounts helps with this. If you’re constantly posting relatable content, it becomes clear that you’re invested in not only your program but in your customers’ interests, too. Steering clear of messages that feel crafted or automatically generated will also make your brand feel real, and will establish a clear “voice” for your brand that customers will grow to recognize across different channels.
5. Be Philanthropic
If you take away nothing else about Generation Z, remember this: they demand social responsibility. As an empowered generation, more and more Z-ers are taking the initiative to start campaigns and make changes in their own lives to better the lives of others.
Take Amanda Belzowski, for example, who has been raising money for pediatric cardiac research by selling lemonade since she was two years old. This level of initiative means that a brand’s philanthropic involvement significantly impacts young people’s opinion of them.
You can use your loyalty program to align your business with your customers’ causes. Giving your customers the option to donate their rewards to a charitable cause is an excellent way to diversify your rewards menu. You can also invite customers to participate in an initiative your company contributes to outside of your loyalty program.
Companies like Coca Cola have been doing this for years, giving them an opportunity to appeal to their customers’ values and demonstrate their willingness to give back to the world at large.
Making the Grade with Generation Z
93% of parents say their children influence spending patterns and household purchases, making it vital to appeal to their needs when designing your loyalty program. Developing a program that is transparent, mobile-accessible, active on social media, and actively contributes to charitable causes will create an enticing shopping experience that will secure customer loyalty from Generation Z.
While it’s not the easiest battle to win, Generation Z is a profitable customer group to have in your pocket and is definitely worth fighting for.