Millennials often grab the headlines, but the oldest of the Gen Z’ers are 20 years old and are soon to be prime-age renters. “Generation Z is 44 million strong,” said Kate Good during her panel presentation “Gen Z: End of the Alphabet & Beginning a New Era,” at NAA’s Apartmentalize conference in Denver. “It’s going to be great for our industry,” she concluded.
Dubbed the “throwback generation,” Generation Z is heavily influenced by their grandparents, generally tries to avoid debt at all costs, is more likely to work while attending college, and has conservative, yet expressive values. Generation Z was born after 1998, meaning they have no memory of 9/11, but were deeply affected by the Great Recession. “I think this is shaping their approach to their own personal economics,” said Good.
This generation was also born after the smart phone, and was raised in an on-demand culture. “Millennials have two screens in front of them, while Gen Z will have eight,” said Good. Marketing strategies have to adjust for this shorter attention span, and messaging to this generation has to be short and sweet. “We can’t forget about the phone, either,” Good adds, because if you don’t pick up the phone in the first 15 seconds, you will likely miss the opportunity.
Being raised in an on-demand culture has led to the expectation for quick responses. “Gen Z does not understand why we cannot give them instant approval for their leasing applications,” said Good. “This is something I think we really have to improve on.” It’s not all uncommon for a prospect to lease somewhere else if your approval process is taking too long, and some companies are starting to do pre-approvals to keep the prospect engaged and interested while waiting for final approval.
This is also the most diverse generation and they demand inclusivity. Generation Z prefers to engage with companies committed to social good, which, according to Good, is generally more important to them than square footage and fancy amenities. The environment is very important to them, and they are drawn to eco-friendly buildings, so “make sure to show those rooftop panels in your marketing!” Good stressed.
Generation Z is about to flood the apartment market, so it’s important to be aware of the generation’s general attributes and preferences so you can tailor your marketing, and communities, to this group. Knowing what Gen Z’ers look for in their apartments and what they find important allows you to ask yourself, “how can we fine tune our product to meet their expectations?”