Earlier this year, I happened across a report from the CM Group entitled, “Marketing to Gen Z: A Fresh Approach to Reach a New Generation of Consumers”. Whilst aimed at the commercial sector, it’s a free and easy read with insights that leaders of volunteer engagement will find useful.
With that in mind, if you want to engage more young people — Pew Research define Generation Z as those born between 1997 and 2012 — then here are my top four takeaways from the report.
Takeaway one – Act now
If we intend to engage Gen Z, then we must act now.
As the report states:
“Marketers who aren’t evolving their strategies to engage this younger generation are already falling behind.”
The body of research into Gen Z is growing fast. We need to learn from, understand and engage with these young people if we want to effectively engage them in our organisations.
Takeaway two – Understand them
We have to understand Gen Z as a distinct group, rather than assuming they are just younger Millennials. According to the CM Group report, Generation Z:
- are more practical and ambitious than emotional and idealistic
- are less optimistic than millennials when it comes to issues like climate change, and gender & racial equality
- are more cautious than Millennials when it comes to embracing new technology
- are focused on education and success, and they use technology to get what they want
- are most receptive to value-oriented messages and engagement tactics (a boon for non-profits)
- more than any other generation, they expect personalised communications and seamless experiences across all online and in-person channels
Is this news to you? Some of it was to me, and I have Gen Z children!
We have to find ways to genuinely understand how Gen Z are different from other generations — what drives them, scares them and inspires them — if we want to have any success at connecting with them.
Takeaway three – Know how to engage with them
The report points out that Gen Z are more likely to use YouTube, TikTok, Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram and Twitch than Millennials. Unsurprisingly, therefore, video is a key format to reach Gen Z.
Like Millennials, Gen Z prefer engaging via social media and are more likely to trust the information they receive there but, unlike older generations, they are more open to using chatbots.
Unlike Millennials, Gen Z are more likely to seek the recommendations of online influencers they trust. They are, however, turned off by a lack of transparency and authenticity.
Are we embracing the social media Gen Z are using? Are we being truly authentic in how we use social media? Have we started using chatbots as a way to engage with people? If not, we appear to have some work to do if we want to connect with Generation Z online.
Takeaway four – Volunteering gets phygital
Gen Z uses technology to suit their convenience, but they’re comfortable taking what they want and leaving what they don’t need. They like in-person social interaction, and they aren’t afraid to ditch technology for a better experience In Real Life (IRL).
This chimes with the findings of NCVO’s 2019 Time Well Spent reportwhich found that it was young people who most valued volunteering as a way of combating social isolation. In other words, Gen Z might not thrill to doing online volunteering quite as much as we think. They may actually want to volunteer IRL and with others more than on their own through computers and mobile devices.
One word used in the report is phygital, the merger of physical and digital worlds to provide Gen Z with a seamless experience. What would phygital volunteering looking like, allowing Gen Z to get involved online and IRL in a way that suits them (not just us)?
Those are my four top takeaways from the CM Group report. I encourage you to read it and perhaps share your reflections in the comments below.
Similarly, if you’ve done any other reading on Gen Z, or are already working to engage them in your organisation — especially if you have examples of phygital volunteering — then please share your suggested resources, thoughts, experiences, and lessons learnt by leaving a comment below.