It’s an increasingly relevant question, which all businesses must ask themselves: “How do we build loyalty with Gen Z customers?”
As a Millennial, I didn’t have a smartphone in my teens. I grew up in an era where you would rush home from school, log into MSN Messenger on the household desktop and chat to your friends until dinner time. After dinner, the family would sit down to watch one episode of a TV show, which would air at a designated time slot.
My point is, there is a stark contrast between Millennials and their successors – a generation that grew up with things like social media, streaming services and access to global news in their very own pocket, real-time.
As such, the way in which Gen Z engages with the brands it shops with is very different too.
Businesses that wish to stay afloat must pay close attention to this up-and-coming generation’s spending habits and shopping preferences.
At Stamp Me, we’ve identified these eight key characteristics that anyone hoping to build brand loyalty with Gen Z customers should keep in mind.
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Contrary to popular belief, Gen Z isn’t all about digital. In fact, there is plenty of research to suggest that Gen Z consumers like to browse and research products online, and then make purchases in person at brick-and-mortar shops.
While COVID-19 has certainly inspired a surge in ecommerce, the brick-and-mortar shopping experience is still very important to Gen Z.
By providing customers with a seamless brand experience from the website, to the mobile app (if you have one), to the social media pages and in-store shopping, businesses can rapidly build brand loyalty via numerous channels at once.
A good rewards platform makes this process very straightforward, as the customer leaves a trail of breadcrumbs whenever they interact with your brand. The platform will store these breadcrumbs in such a way that the customer can “pick up where they left off” from one channel to another.
2. Social Media Engagement
Regardless of what generation we’re talking about, a brand’s social media presence is more important now than ever before. Consumers turn to a business’s social media pages for information like opening hours, contact information, reviews and customer support.
This is particularly true of Gen Z consumers, who are much more accustomed to round-the-clock access to customer service via Facebook/Instagram Messenger, WhatsApp and other direct communication channels.
Of course, that’s just the nitty gritty stuff… the businesses that have fun with their social media engagement are the ones that enjoy the most success with it. Social media can be a highly effective tool for building brand loyalty; especially when you reward customers for sharing images and videos of themselves using your product or enjoying your service, for example.
When combined, social media marketing and loyalty marketing is extremely powerful. Learn about how to improve customer loyalty with social media.
3. Surprise & Delight
A few years ago, Kleenex pulled off a very clever marketing stunt. The tissue brand’s marketing team scoured Facebook for users who had posted about being sick at home with the flu or a cold within the last few hours.
Once the team had compiled a list of bedridden social media users, Kleenex got in touch with each person’s friends and family in order to arrange for a “Kleenex Kit” full of get well items to arrive on the sick person’s doorstep within hours of their social media post.
This kind of Surprise & Delight strategy is highly effective among Gen Z consumers, because they tend to be such active social media users. By catching a Gen Z customer off-guard with a spontaneous, no-strings-attached gift like this, you are giving them social currency to post about.
Gen Z is far more likely to post about experiential rewards on their social media pages, and this creates hype around your brand.
4. UGC (User-generated Content)
Image Source: YouTube
Take your brand’s social media engagement a step further, by incentivizing your customers to create their own content. For instance, many loyalty programs reward behaviour like writing blogs, leaving product reviews, referring peers, creating YouTube tutorials and so on.
As a generation that has far less trust in traditional advertising than their parents and grandparents have, user-generated content is a very effective tool for building brand trust among Gen Z.
In regards to building a customer profile, UGC also provides businesses with a wealth of data, which you can use to tailor the customer’s experience and accommodate their unique preferences. This is called personalization, and it’s another very valuable asset when trying to win over Gen Z customers!
5. Augmented Reality
Innovative brands like IKEA and Sephora have found ways to incorporate Augmented Reality into their marketing strategies, in a (very successful) effort to enhance the customer experience.
IKEA Place is a nifty little tool that lets users virtually place IKEA furniture in their actual house, to see how it looks. Users can even change the colour of the furniture until they find a shade that complements their existing décor.
Not only does this gamify the customer experience (which we’ll discuss next) by turning furniture shopping into a fun, interactive endeavour not too dissimilar to playing The Sims, but it also encourages UGC and thus social media buzz, tying in some of the points mentioned above.
Similarly, Sephora Virtual Artist allows users to test how various shades of lipstick, eyeshadow and other cosmetics look on their face via a digital app. If features like this don’t win over Gen Z, we don’t know what will!
In recent years, gamification has grown to become a key term in any serious marketer’s vocabulary. By taking the fun, silly and sometimes competitive elements of gaming and applying them to your marketing campaigns, you can hook customers in and keep them engaged.
A good example is DOM the Pizza Bot – Domino’s very own pizza tracking robot, who keeps customers delightfully entertained (and informed) throughout the waiting period between ordering their pizza and eagerly accepting delivery.
In addition to keeping customers in the loop in regards to whether their pizza is being prepared, cooked, packaged or delivered, DOM the Pizza Bot offers various jokes and anecdotes, and responds when you “poke his eye” by touching your smartphone screen.
Not only does DOM the Pizza Bot persuade many customers to order pizza directly through the Dominos app instead of via UberEats, Deliveroo and other third party delivery apps, but it also ignited a lively online debate regarding whether the pizza live tracker is legitimate or simply operates on a timer.
What’s that saying about, “any publicity is good publicity”?
Other brands have used badges and leader boards in conjunction with their rewards programs, and Starbucks throws various menu challenges into the mix to keep things interesting.
7. CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility)
Both Millennials and Gen Z are much more conscious, aware and vocal about societal issues and environmental sustainability. When it comes to the shopping mall, they expect the brands they shop with to do their part in supporting good causes and alleviating global issues.
This isn’t about charging customers a few cents for a plastic shopping bag… it’s about weaving good corporate citizenship into the very fabric of your branding, and loyalty programs are a good tool for communicating this.
Find ways to integrate your CSR initiatives into the customer experience to create an emotional connection between your brand and your Gen Z customers. You can read up on some helpful tips for integrating CSR into your loyalty marketing here.
You might have noticed a common theme in many of these attributes to building loyalty among Gen Z. In order to win the loyalty of Gen Z customers, you’ve gotta go mobile!
A digital loyalty app allows businesses to engage Gen Z customers in a variety of ways, and speak their language.
Not only is a loyalty app more sustainable than handing out paper punch cards, but it’s easily gamified with functions like Scratch & Win, which also achieves Surprise & Delight. To engage your Gen Z customers with a digital loyalty app, get in touch with Stamp Me Loyalty Solutions today.
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