The next generation of renters, known as Gen-Z, are predicted to become a powerful renter demographic within the next few years. Consisting of those born between 1995 and the present, the birthrate of Gen-Z has outpaced Millennials by 3 million, and the first wave of Gen-Z is already well into their 20s.
While Gen-Z is commonly grouped in with Millennials, there is a vital difference between the two demographics. Millennials grew up with access to emerging technology and the latest trends in their formative years while Gen-Z was born with it readily available. They came of age in the well-established digital era, viewing the rapid advancements of technology as an everyday affair. To target the newest generation of Americans, an effective marketing strategy requires fresh ideas and campaigns that cater to their sensibilities.
For this new group of consumers, one-on-one engagement via social media is essential. Radio jingles, TV commercials, and advertisements do not have the same impact on Gen-Z as they do on previous generations. Here are some fundamental concepts to remember when formulating an effective marketing strategy for Gen-Z.
Recognize the Power of Reviews
More than any other demographic, Gen-Z is linked with the online community. They like, comment, and share their experiences, placing trust in the opinions of their peers to find products and services. This is the key to understanding why Gen-Z is immune to the traditional marketing models. Instead of being told what to buy, they want to make a well-informed informed decision for themselves.
Online reviews about your rental property are more authentic to Gen-Z than anything you could say in a potential sales pitch. In fact, Gen-Z views your social media presence as an accurate representation of your business. Therefore, your most important promotional tools are customer ratings and reviews.
That’s right! A handful of 5-star ratings has become more powerful than a Super Bowl ad when it comes to reaching Gen-Z. They crave the whole story from a variety of sources before making their final decision.
Transparency Make All the Difference
While you cannot make every resident who reviews your property happy, the act of simply addressing an issue can go a long way in connecting with the next generation.
Gen-Z is all about authenticity. Companies that cover up or shy away from mistakes or slip-ups rarely gain their trust. They are much more likely to forgive, or even respect a business, who admits shortcomings rather than brushing them under the rug.
Consider Target as an example. In 2013, the company suffered one of the biggest data breach hacks in history. It was a scandal that affected a large number of customers, but Target reacted in the right way: they confronted the issue, made changes, and did it all with transparency.
The company offered financial services to all shoppers affected by the hack, revamped its security and technology departments, and made sure customers were not liable for any fraudulent charges. Target also posted a list of safe shopping tips on its website. They took responsibility, making an effort to address each and every issue – and they did it all publicly.
Gen-Z appreciated this, and by 2015 Target’s online sales had increased by 40 percent— a strong reflection of how Gen-Z, the most digital-savvy generation yet, can forgive and forget.
When confronted by a negative comment or review, the worst response is none at all. Don’t ignore it because Gen-Z won’t! A personal, constructive reply is your golden ticket – even something as simple as a “thank you for the input” can win over potential renters. Gen-Z wants their voice to be heard, and your willingness to engage with negative reviews and comments can outweigh the negative feedback.
Engage on Multiple Levels
When Gen-Z spends money, they are looking to support a brand and become a part of something – they want an experience. Your brand image needs be more than just a one-dimensional, money-making business.
The success of brands such as Toms and Warby Parker are clear examples of the younger generation’s investment in what a brand stands for. These companies utilize a one-for-one business model, making a product donation to those in need for every one of their products sold. Their strategy of conscious capitalism combines promoting products with advocating for a cause—a win-win marketing tactic to entice Gen-Z.
Nike is another example of a company giving Gen-Z the brand experience they want. By responding and engaging with customers on Instagram and other social media channels, Nike strives to be as accessible as possible, creating a collaborative space where customers feel empowered. They feature ads that everyone can identify with, promoting people who look and feel real instead of exclusively using celebrities or sports stars in their campaigns. With a relatable, inclusive brand image, it’s no wonder that Nike has risen to be one of the top three followed accounts on Instagram.
Are you active in the community? How are you making a difference? Gen-Z is paying attention to the impact of your apartment community, or the lack thereof.
Believe it or not, you don’t need a massive marketing budget to boost capacity. It’s as simple as pushing content to your social platforms: inform residents about special community events or happenings, write a lifestyle blog to encourage residents to take advantage of their new living space, or suggest local hot spots close to the property, which heightens the appeal of your community while boosting the notoriety of other local businesses. Gen-Z is aware of their power to socially steer the economy; therefore, emphasizing your brand’s commitment to engage can help you stand above the rest.
For this new generation, it’s not enough to merely have a presence online. Gen-Z is active on social media and expects you to do the same. Online engagement is key as this demographic occupies the rental market. By building your brand image now, you can ensure that your community continues to lease at a high capacity as Gen-Z becomes one of the largest renter demographics in the United States.