Each generation is defined by unique, collective experiences. Researchers and marketers study generational attitudes and behaviors to understand and anticipate each generation’s impact. The direct selling industry is no different. Through the years, generational perspectives have shaped the evolution of multi-level marketing (MLM) companies and the products and services they deliver.
Baby Boomers (born 1946 – 1964) grew up in an era where Tupperware parties and visits from the “Avon lady” were the norm. Gen X (born 1965 – 1980), sometimes called the latchkey generation, was greatly influenced by the increasing number of two-income households with both parents working full-time. Gen X’s “do it yourself” attitude found the entrepreneurial aspects of MLM companies appealing, and party plan-focused direct selling blossomed. The Millennials (born 1981 – 1996) came next, and alongside them, the Internet. Millennials are used to adapting to rapidly evolving technology and appreciate the convenience of interacting with MLM companies via Ecommerce and mobile communication.
Today, Gen Z (born 1997 – 2012) is poised to impact the direct selling industry. Even with most of its members still in their teenage years, Gen Z makes up 40 percent of the global consumer population. As more Gen Z-ers come of age in the years ahead, now is the ideal time to get to know them – and identify ways to shift strategies and marketing messages to align with these already powerful consumers.
5 things to know about Gen Z as customers
Like the Millennials before them, Gen Z grew up with rapidly developing technologies. But Gen Z-ers are true digital natives who can’t remember a world without smartphones, the Internet, and Wi-Fi. The stereotype perception of Gen Z is kids glued to their phones and overly dependent on technology. (And yes, Gen Z-ers average five-plus hours per day on their phones, which serve as a primary communication hub.) However, beneath the surface generalization is a highly connected generation that’s plugged into what’s happening in their communities and around the world. As a result, their consumer behaviors are unique and worth noting.
1. They are omnichannel all the time.
Gen Z seamlessly blends technology into everything they do, and shopping is no different. Gen Z-ers not only expect to choose from online and in-person shopping options, but they also expect the different channel experiences to be well-integrated. For MLM companies, this means delivering Ecommerce shopping that’s focused on ease from browsing through buying. MLM software that offers the ability to facilitate searches with categories and size, style, and color filters is a must. Beyond optimizing Ecommerce search capabilities, the best MLM software solutions also offer the ability to tag products to highlight bestsellers, low-stock quantities, or sale items.
At the same time, Gen Z values connecting with others who share their interests in brands and products, so relationship-building between MLM representatives and their communities – both online and in-person – has never been more important. Look for MLM software and technology tools that make connecting through social media, text, and email easy for reps.
2. Personalization is a priority.
Because of their comfort levels with technology, Gen Z-ers understand how data can tailor marketing and shopping experiences. As a result, they’re more willing than previous generations to share personal data that will drive the customized consumer interactions they expect. Forty-four percent of Gen Z say they’re willing to share personal information in exchange for a more personalized experience – and 75 percent are more willing to purchase a product if it’s personalized for them.
MLM companies, with their unique mix of personalized relationships and technology, are a good fit for Gen Z customers. Tap into MLM software functionality that propels personalization, such as real-time alerts sent to reps for new customer purchases, customer anniversaries, or loyalty program achievements. In addition, MLM software can help companies optimize customer data points to design targeted promotional offers and make personalized “you might also like” recommendations as customers engage online.
3. Purchases are driven by more than price.
Gen Z grew up during the Great Recession, and many saw their parents navigate debt and financial challenges. So, it’s not surprising that Gen Z-ers seek out information before making purchase decisions. But the research-based approach to buying isn’t solely focused on price. While Gen Z appreciates a good deal, they also focus on quality and getting value for what they decide to spend their money on. And, compared to other generational groups, Gen Z-ers place a higher value on service and convenience. In fact, research conducted by IBM found that product choice, availability, convenience, and value are the top drivers behind Gen Z shopping decisions.
To win over Gen Z customers, MLM companies can feed their information appetite with detailed product descriptions that emphasize quality and value. Along with written materials, deliver information through videos, both on the web and through social media. Eighty-five percent of Gen Z search for information and content on YouTube.
On top of seeking information themselves, Gen Z-ers also appreciate third-party endorsements, such as customer reviews and real-life customer stories. As a first step, make customer reviews easily accessible throughout your Ecommerce experience. The best MLM software makes capturing reviews simple and will enable your corporate team to review them before posting. From there, make social sharing easy for customers by inviting them to post about their experiences with your brand and products on social media. Many MLM companies provide customer incentives and rewards to help fuel social posts and post-driven sales.
4. Health and well-being are top-of-mind.
Their Gen X parents instilled the importance of eating healthy and exercising regularly. Gen Z-ers take managing their health to the next level through a holistic approach to well-being that encompasses physical, mental, and emotional wellness. Overall, Gen Z is receptive to all-natural, sustainable, and vitamin-fortified foods. They’re also more likely to try natural remedies as a supplement to traditional healthcare. In addition, they place a premium on mental health, with three in four open to talking about their mental well-being. As a result, Gen Z-ers prioritize self-care by emphasizing work-life balance, actively managing stress and anxiety levels, and tracking steps, heart rates, and sleep.
The focus on holistic wellness translates into a desire for products and services that line up with their quest for well-being. MLM companies are not only well-positioned to meet these needs for Gen Z consumers, but they’re also able to combine them with Gen Z’s desire for convenience and ease. For example, MLM companies are making it easy for customers to always have the products they need on hand with convenient autoship functionality that enables buyers to place customized recurring orders. Then, the company’s MLM software automates the process by handling the shipping, collecting payments, and communicating with the customer.
5. Social responsibility is a plus.
As the most racially and ethnically diverse generation in US history, 56 percent of Gen Z-ers see themselves as socially conscious – and it factors into the brands and products they choose. Most – nearly seven in ten – expect brands to make a positive contribution to society, and six in ten say they’re willing to pay more for products produced in ethical and sustainable ways. At the same time, Gen Z is skeptical by nature and has a low tolerance for companies adopting values solely for marketing purposes.
To connect with Generation Z, showcase your company’s values and how your products and services help to make the world better. When it makes sense, align your MLM brand with relevant social causes and share information and insights about how your company contributes and why the issue is important. Most of all, throughout all of your messaging, strive for a genuine, authentic tone that will resonate with Gen Z.
Just like the generations before them, Gen Z is set to change the consumer landscape. The marketing strategies of the past won’t necessarily work with this diverse and plugged-in generation. Instead, stay ahead of the evolving trends by getting to know what’s unique about Gen Z customers and optimizing your business strategies to align. Plus, there’s another generation on the horizon behind Gen Z – Generation Alpha – who have been immersed in technology since birth and are projected to have the most transformative consumer impact yet. However, the oldest of these potential customers are just turning ten years old, so the next few years will still be all about winning over Gen Z!
ByDesign Technologies partners with MLM companies to address changing marketing needs. Our MLM software solutions – based on 25+ years of industry experience and more than 1,000 clients along the way – are designed to help direct selling companies adapt and grow. To learn more, visit ByDesign.com or contact us to schedule a consultation.