Gen Z is filling your campus bookstores and will account for 40 percent of all your customers by the year 2020. Although millennials and Gen Z have many similarities, they respond differently to marketing tactics. We put together a comprehensive guide for college stores on how to market to Gen Z students to help your campus bookstore reach them.
Who is Gen Z?
Members of Generation Z were born between 1996 and 2010 according to Pew Research. They are the children of the Information Age. They adapt quickly to new technologies and methods of communication. Not only are they the most tech savvy generation, they are on track to be the most diverse and well-educated.
The average time someone will spend looking at advertising is about 8 seconds, so your campus bookstore has very little time to reach Gen Zs online. You’ll be competing with the daily barrage of ads that users receive on a day-to-day basis. Because of this, Gen Zs are less generous with their attention. That’s why it’s important that your campus bookstore is easily accessible online.
What to do for Gen Z?
When making a purchase, Gen Z is most concerned with the item’s necessity to them and its cost. Is the item something they really need? Does the cost outweigh the necessity? These are questions that they ask themselves. They are more specific about what they purchase and who they purchase from. For a campus bookstore, that means having all their required textbooks and materials each year at reasonable prices.
Online research narrows down who they will purchase from using positive or negative reviews from other customers. Your reputation online can affect their decision making so stay up to date with comments and reviews on the platforms that represent you. Issues with customer service are a very common response you will find from customers who felt they weren’t given the respect or priority they deserved. If you received negative comments online, it is important that you respond. Addressing customer issues online shows that you not only take responsibility for what happened, but you want to rectify the issue. This could not only save you a returning customer but also motivate other students who read the comments and reviews to go to your store.
Availability is also a large concern. Online stores have made ordering from home easy and ideal. Making a trip to the store is becoming less convenient, and even more so if the store they go to doesn’t have the item they need in stock. If a student comes to your expecting a title, they need and find it’s out of stock or you don’t carry it, then they are more apt to go looking elsewhere for it instead of waiting until it is back in stock. Be mindful of the materials sell out quickly, especially during rush periods. If a situation arises in which you run out of stock, let the customer know when it should arrive. Providing students with a date that they can expect it to be available will give them the security of knowing whether they will get what they need on time. It could also persuade them from shopping elsewhere in the meantime.
How to reach Gen Z
Technology is king. Leverage distribution methods such as email, social media, mobile ads, and social influencers to ensure your message reaches the most people in the shortest amount of time.
To Generation Z, social media is like a curated food platter brought to them each day through instant notifications. Information moves quickly as sharing between applications is easier than ever. According to an interview conducted by Adweek, Gen Z uses Snapchat as their “go-to” method to stay in touch. Creating a Snapchat account is easy and free to set up. Once you’ve created one, you can share photos of the store, your employees (with their permission), and current sales that the store is having. Put these on your My Story and everyone who has added you can see it.
For many Gen Z students, Reddit has become a premiere news source. Reddit is an open forum with curated groups called subreddits in which users share different interests publicly. Chances are that your university already has its own subreddit. Be sure to create an account and share different deals and events at your store on these subreddits.
Instagram is another powerful tool for connecting with Gen Z. Over a billion people use Instagram daily, of which 71 percent are under the age of 35. It’s an effective way of marketing your campus bookstore through photos you post on your profile and it offers a variety of options for advertising.
No doubt you’ve at least heard about Twitter. Twitter is for quickly sending and consuming content in small blurbs called tweets. Having a Twitter account allows you to spread news of events and sales to all your followers quickly. Be sure to post often on Twitter, around 3-times a day if you can manage. Since Twitter is an ever-moving machine, you must be consistent with your posts for anyone to see it.
Although social media is an advertising powerhouse, emails are still a viable option. Choosing to email Gen Zs will cut through the noise of online advertising and will increase the potential for students to see your message. It’s important that with this more direct route your message is fine-tuned for your audience. Using misleading tactics is a sure-fire way to get your email chains unsubscribed or blocked. Be honest, sincere and personable with your messages. Make them feel you’re not just a business but a resource for students during their time in college. For more information about how you can improve your emails, check out this expert advice about bookstore marketing.
Influencers are people with a relatively large following who can communicate a message to their followers. This can be anyone from group leaders with a few followers to politicians with a global audience. For your campus bookstore, you’ll want to work with someone closer to home though. Look for leaders of extra-curricular activities, professors and even student-aids. Anyone who can spread the benefits of shopping at your store and has a working relationship with students.
Influencers provide a warm introduction of your campus bookstore to your audience. They build greater trust with your brand as they act like a friend, suggesting your brand or service through word of mouth. Finding the right influencer will depend on your situation. Suggest that they speak to the students they work with about the benefits of shopping through your campus store. Once you’ve found someone who would help, give them the material to work with such as a sale or event you plan on having soon. Let them know what they should relay to their followers, having leaflets or coupons for them to hand out would be a good idea. Once they’ve completed this task, offer your influencers things like an influencer discount on select items. This would ensure that you repay them for their efforts, and it gives them an incentive to continue doing it.
To reach Gen Z, you must align your store brand with their preferences and expectations. Transparency and sincerity are key.