For years, landlords put all of their efforts into marketing to millennials. The millennial generation has passed the baton over to Generation Z though, and now, landlords have to put much of their focus on this generation.
The generation consists of people who were born after 1995, and while they might be young, they have some money to spend. They contribute $44 billion to the economy in the United States, and you can get a slice of that pie by learning how to market to them.1 Renting to Generation Z requires a tech savvy landlord with the right tools to accept online rent applications, screen applicants, collect rent online, and stay up on the latest news and guidelines about how the rental property industry is evolving.
VerticalRent® is committed to providing landlords, realtors, and property managers with educational information that enhances, maximizes, and grows their rental property portfolios. In this guide, The Generation After Millennials – Your Guide to Generation Z Renters, we give you real-world and researched advice to help fill your vacancies fast. We also provide you with cultural tips in how to communicate with Generation Z Renters if you’re a 50+ landlord looking for more effective ways to leverage modern age communication tools like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, or even SMS Texting to communicate with your applicants or tenants. Every generation has their “norms” when it comes to popular culture. As a landlord, you should always abide by the Fair Housing Act and Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) when offering your rental property to the public. This guide is meant to simply educate and inform you. Enjoy!
Gen Z is more practical than some other generations are. While some generations are happy to rent forever, Generation Z sees it as a stepping stone. In fact, 97 percent of Generation Z wants to buy a home someday.2
Of course, most won’t leave their parents’ homes and buy a house immediately. They will rent for a few years, which means you have a chance to reach them. You have to offer what they want in a rental, though, or they will go with someone else.
First, they want something affordable. Most Gen Z-ers aren’t going to pay more than they think a property is worth, even if they get to enjoy an amazing experience. Since they want to buy at some point, they are willing to sacrifice now for what they can have in the future. They want to save money on their rental property so they can sack away some money for the future.
They also want stability. They want to know they can live in the property for as long as they want while they save their money. They don’t want to worry about getting kicked out if the owner sells it, and they don’t want to worry about the rent going up. You must be able to offer that stability if you’re going to get Gen Z renters.
That means you need to craft marketing messages that talk about affordability and stability. If you put these two concepts at the front of your marketing campaign, you can expect to get good results. However, if your property is expensive and you can only offer a month-to-month lease, don’t expect to fill your rental with a Gen Z tenant. It is unlikely to happen.
Generation Z is the generation of video. This demographic is highly visual and prefers to see videos over text. If you are still relying on the old methods of reaching consumers, you will miss out on this generation entirely.
A recent survey found that 95 percent of Gen Z-ers use YouTube. That’s impressive in itself, but when you peel back the curtain a little further, you will realize just how important YouTube is. Half of users say they can’t live without the social media site.3 It’s like it is as part of them, and if you take it away, they don’t know what they will do with themselves.
That means you need to create a marketing campaign around YouTube. If you really want to knock one out of the park, use a social star in your video. In many cases, Generation Z trusts the social stars more than mainstream celebrities. In fact, 63 percent of the demographic prefers to see real people over celebrities in advertisements.4
Taco Bell used this strategy to outstanding results with its Fiery Doritos Locos Tacos commercial. When marketing to other demographics, the restaurant hasn’t been afraid to use celebrities, including Patrick Duffy. It switched gears to reach Generation Z, though. Instead of using a traditional celebrity, it used Freddie Wong.5 Wong is a YouTube star and someone who speaks directly to Generation Z. By using Wong, Taco Bell was able to speak directly to the demographic. That’s how you hit a home run with your YouTube marketing campaign.
You might not have the pull to get a huge YouTube celebrity like Freddie Wong, but you might be able to get a local celebrity for your rental video. Talk to some real people in the area to get them to be a part of your videos. If you can’t find anyone with star power, you can just go directly to the people who rent your properties and ask them to film a video for you. They might not be social stars, but they are real people, so they will resonate with Generation Z. The best way to go about this is to get people who are a part of Generation Z to market to people who are in Generation Z. This will make it much easier for you connect with people in the generation.
Generation Z is like no other generation when it comes to brand interaction. They grew up with Google and Siri in their back pockets, so they expect fast and easy interactions. They want to ask a question and have it answered immediately. Forget about calling a front office or waiting for an email response. Instant gratification is the name of the game when it comes to Generation Z, and if you can’t deliver, you will have a hard time pleasing this generation.
This has left landlords scratching their heads as they try to figure out what to do. They can’t have 20 conversations at one time, so how do they fill this need of instant gratification so they can reach the Generation Z demographic?
It turns out that chatbots might be the answer. They can market their properties and satisfy Generation Z at the same time with these bots.
Let’s begin with an important statistic. Around 90 percent of teens in the United States communicate via some form of chat.6 This makes it one of the easiest and fastest ways to connect with young people, many of whom are looking for a new apartment or rental home for the first time.
They don’t just chat with people, either. Generation Z is quick to adapt to chatbots offered by brands.
Kik provides a great example of this. This Canadian messaging app launched a brand shop to allow users to interact with chatbots. It opened the brand shop in April of 2016, and by August of that year, media was reporting that users exchanged 1.8 billion messages on the platform. Those messages went out to over 20,000 bots.7
These messages were mainly exchanged by Generation Z users. Sixty-percent of the messages were sent by people between the ages of 13 and 19.
These numbers make it clear that chatbots are on the rise. If you can learn to use the bots, you can increase your reach among Generation Z renters.
Chatbots are still relatively new to the real estate game though, so you might be a little lost. Let’s take a look at how you can use these bots to increase your reach.
First, it’s important to understand that chatbots are programmed to interact with users. They get to know people through a series of questions and are then able to provide them with the information they need during the rental process.
For example, the chatbot can ask people where they want to live, how much they want to spend, and what amenities they want. Then, the chatbot will return information based on those preferences.
Chatbots can also handle basic customer service tasks when Generation Z tenants are already in the property. This will help you retain your renters.
For instance, if a renter has an issue he or she needs addressed, the renter can interact with the chatbot. Let’s say that the renter has a broken A/C unit. He or she can interact with the chatbot, let the bot know what is going on, and schedule the maintenance. The renter can do all of this without picking up the phone or sending an email. This allows Generation Z renters and potential renters to interact in the way they want to interact. This is critical if you want to fill your rental properties and keep those renters happy.
Now, though, you probably want to know how you can get a chatbot. This is actually quite a bit easier than you might think. You can build your own chatbot through Kik. Then, Gen Z-ers can use Kik to interact with the bot.
You also have the option of creating chatbots for Facebook Messenger and other platforms. Do your homework and pick the platform that you want to use. Then, create your bot and start advertising it. Not only will it help you reach Generation Z renters, but it will also help you save time. Your chatbot will handle some of your day-to-day tasks for you, so you will have more free time to take on other duties.
Marketing has always been fast-paced, but you have to speed things up even more if you’re going to reach the coveted Generation Z. You have a mere eight seconds to hook people from this generation. They have the shortest attention spans of all of the generations, so you need to get to work on crafting a compelling marketing message that will make renters want to learn more about your offers. 8
Start with a clear message. Don’t beat around the bush about what you want to say. Put it right out there at the beginning so people know why they are watching a video or reading a social media post.
You also need to tell stories instead of just listing features. Have a person describe what it is like to live in one of your rentals. If you can convey the user experience, you will do much better than you would if you just listed all of the amenities and features your rentals have. You would lose people quickly if you went that route.
You also need to come up with some sort of hook. If you are a funny person, start with a joke. If you get people laughing from the beginning, they will want to stick around. You might even keep them past that eight second mark.
Your website plays an important role when marketing to other generations, but if you rely too heavily on your website with Generation Z, you will lose the generation entirely.
Generation Z is not likely to go directly to a website. Instead, it uses social media to get its content. You just need to look at Buzzfeed’s traffic data to illustrate this point. A mere 23 percent of the site’s traffic is from direct website visits. The rest comes from third-party sites.9 That means that people see posts on Facebook and other social media sites, click on it, and end up on Buzzfeed.
The same is true for other sites. That means if you only have a website, you are going to miss out on a ton of potential renters.
The question becomes, then, which social media channels should you use to reach Generation Z?
You already know that a big part of the generation is on YouTube, but where else will you find them?
Snapchat is extremely popular with Generation Z. It is becoming the go-to app for Generation Z, and with 400 million snaps sent a day, it doesn’t look like it is going to ease up anytime soon.10
Generation Z also loves to use Instagram, and that is becoming a more powerful force for marketers. Now, marketers have access to stories ads. These ads appear right between the stories that users swipe through when they visit Instagram, so you only have a second or two to grab a user’s attention with these ads. That means you need to get right to the point and filter out the noise with these ads.
Generation Z also uses Twitter and Facebook, so you need to have a presence across various social media platforms in order to reach them. Cross-channel marketing is essential if you’re going to reach as many people from the generation as possible.
Most importantly, though, you need to keep an eye out for the next big thing.
Generation Z is quick to adopt new technologies, and they are always looking for the next big thing. If you can get in on a new technology right when it is starting, you can reach people well before other marketers take over. When a network gets saturated with marketers, it can lose its appeal, so this is critical. If you are one of the first, you will be able to reach lots of people and connect with them.
The key is to keep an eye on social media news to find out what sites are new and popular. Also, check the Apple and Google Play stores to see what apps are being downloaded. This will give you some insight into what is becoming popular. Then, learn the ropes and start using the sites before the other marketers catch on.
Marketing often consists of smoke and mirrors. Marketers try to put their best foot forward, so they hide the truth about the brand. That might work for other generations, but Generation Z will see right through your efforts and won’t rent with you because of it.
This generation craves authenticity and personal interactions in all communications, including marketing. If you can’t deliver, they will go with someone who can.
So how do you deliver?
You can borrow some strategies used by marketers from St. Edwards University when it comes to delivering authenticity. According to the university’s marketers, they know that Gen Z easily identifies marketing, so they use a self-effacing tone in marketing materials. This allows them to appear transparent and authentic.
The marketers also use Snapchat takeovers to create authentic marketing materials. During the takeovers, students take the Snapchat channel over and show a day in their lives.11
These are a couple of examples. Now let’s take a closer look at the overall strategy required.
First, you must look at your organization’s beliefs. What do you stand for as a landlord or a rental company? If you don’t know the answer to this question, you will have a hard time creating an authentic marketing message. Take the time to come up with your business’s ideals and values so you can move forward with authenticity. If you know what you stand for, you can base your marketing campaign around your company’s philosophy. This is much more powerful than simply building brand awareness or advertising empty apartments. It lets you build on your philosophy when reaching people. That will allow you to let your authentic self shine through.
After you determine your values, you need to come up with a way to express them transparently in all your marketing endeavors. Use three actionable steps to make this happen.
First, buck tradition. Traditional marketing tactics are not going to work if you are going to be authentic. Instead of going with tradition, stick with what you stand for. Generation Z will pick up on your authenticity if you follow this step.
Next, avoid marketing dogma. You must be willing to take a risk with your marketing efforts if you are going to be authentic. You might fail from time to time, but the risks will pay off in the long run. You will be more vulnerable, and people in Generation Z will respect that.
Finally, examine the processes involved. Make sure they line up with your core values and identity. If they don’t, make some changes so you can allow your authentic self to come through.12
ROI typically stands for return on investment, and it is something that marketers like to analyze. You like to make sure that you are getting a solid return on investment when you spend marketing dollars. If you spend $1,000 to fill an apartment, you want to get at least $1,500 per month on that return. That way, you know you are getting a good return on investment and making a lot of money.
It’s simple math.
Only it’s not really that simple when you are marketing to Generation Z. If you are still thinking of ROI as the return on investment, you are going to miss out on filling apartments with this generation.
Instead of thinking in terms of return on investment, think about return on interaction. That is the best way to gauge your marketing success with Generation Z. It’s also the best way to reach the demographic.13
That means you need to interact with your audience instead of just talking to them. For instance, let’s say you start marketing on Snapchat since you know that’s where a lot of Generation Z members hang out. If you use it like a TV to broadcast to people, you won’t have any interaction. Your message will get lost among the noise, and you won’t fill any rentals.
Boost your return on interaction by engaging with people. Ask questions and listen to what they have to say. Respond in kind. If you can start a real, authentic dialog, you will boost your interaction and your online presence. You will be able to build trust with the generation, and that will help you fill your rentals with this coveted generation.
This is certainly more time-consuming than traditional marketing methods, but it is essential. Think of it this way: if you want to boost your return on investment, you must increase your return on interaction. It is the only way your marketing message will stick with Generation Z. If you don’t have the time for this type of interaction, hire a social media management company to take over the task for you. It is best to hire someone of that generation so he or she can speak directly to potential renters.
Virtual reality is the hot new thing, and Generation Z is taking notice. In fact, 79 percent of Generation Z has an interest in virtual reality, which puts it as the generation most interested in this technology.14
You can benefit from this interest by using virtual reality in your marketing campaigns.
First, it’s important to understand that virtual reality is a great way to reach Generation Z, and not just because they are already interested in the technology.
To begin with, it is immersive. People put on a virtual reality headset and they are completely immersed in what you are selling. They don’t have to deal with distractions, which helps you make a quick impact and avoid falling victim to their short attention spans.
It is also easy to make an emotional impact. People can walk through one of your rentals and imagine themselves living there. You can’t get that type of impact with traditional marketing. Reading or watching a video isn’t the same thing as experiencing it.
It’s also extremely memorable. The brain links events to locations, so consumers create long-lasting memories with virtual reality. That means people will continue to think about your rental long after they put the VR headset down. Those long-term memories will help you fill your rentals quickly.
Possibly most importantly, it’s novel. It isn’t the road most traveled. The novelty is appealing to Generation Z. They like trying new things, and touring an apartment with virtual reality is definitely something new.
3-D walkthroughs are the perfect use of virtual reality. Consider partnering with a company that can offer these walkthroughs and then advertise them on social media channels. You will look like a trendsetter and someone who can offer Generation Z renters a fun and unique experience. You will also be able to easily show everyone exactly what your rentals have to offer by utilizing this technology. You won’t have to explain the floorplan. You can show them with the technology.
Generation Z has lived through quite a bit in a short period of time. They have seen their fair share of scandals and tragedy, but they also believe they can make a difference in the world. On top of that, they want the brands they choose to make difference as well. If you support a cause, people in Generation Z are more likely to support you. That means they will be more likely to rent a property from you.
So, what causes are important to Gen Z? They are interested in environmental issues as well as social issues. Basically, they are interested in causes that will help them make the world a little bit better.
Don’t pick a cause based on what is important to Generation Z, though. Remember, Gen Z is about authenticity, so if you don’t really believe in the cause, they won’t believe in you. Pick a cause you truly care about and then tell others how you are doing your part to change the world.
TOMS is a great example of a company that aligns its marketing strategy with its overall vision to do good. When people purchase TOMS, they help provide water, shoes, and more to those in need. Anyone who owns a pair of TOMS knows this. In fact, some people likely only buy the shoes because of the positive impact the company makes. They want to make an impact, and they can do just that by purchasing these shoes.
Take a page out of TOMS’ playbook so you can reach Generation Z. For instance, you can donate 10 percent of rent to the local animal shelter or to women’s rights causes. You can also donate to local schools or to environmental causes. The main rule is it must be something that you truly believe in so you a tap into the generation’s desire for authenticity. With that in mind, explain why the cause is so important to you. Get personal so you connect with people and show them your true desire to help.
If you need proof that marketing has changed over the years, you just need to look at the GIF. Digital marketing used to be a static affair. People used text ads and static banners to get their marketing campaigns across.
Now, though, marketers can’t ignore the growing popularity of GIFs. GIPHY passed 100 million daily users in 2016, and those users send a billion GIFs every day.15
Marketers are realizing that GIFs are the perfect way to reach Gen Z. By the time people in Generation Z reach the age of 15, they will have seen 200,000 marketing messages, and the GIF cuts through the noise and reaches them in a meaningful way that is hard to ignore.16
Of course, using GIFs for marketing can be a little confusing, and some brands do it wrong. You have about three seconds to get your marketing message across, so how are you going to do it in a way that will help your fill your rental properties?
You can use the GIF to tell a story about the rental property. Maybe create a short image of someone using a cool feature in the apartment or a quick GIF of someone signing on the dotted line and getting a gift. You want to capture a moment and tell a story that will reach Generation Z.
You can also use a little bit of humor with your GIF. If you can get a marketing message across with humor, it will have a much better chance of going viral. For instance, you can have a GIF of rental fails, with the message being that they can avoid failure by choosing your company. Think of all of the potential failures out there. You have a wealth of options if you go that route.
Once you come up with some ideas, begin making GIFs to share. You can create GIFs with GIPHY. It’s fast and easy, so you will have some great GIFs ready to go in no time at all.
Diversity is the foundation of Generation Z. It is the most diverse generation to date, with ethnic minorities making up 47 percent of the population.17 If you are going to appeal to Generation Z, you need to have a diverse marketing campaign.
If your customers don’t look like the people in the ads, they will feel invisible and unrecognized, and you won’t be able to reach them. However, if they see themselves in your ad campaigns, you will be much more likely to reach them.
You should provide diversity beyond your marketing campaign. If you have employees, use diverse hiring practices. If your company doesn’t have any diversity, your marketing campaign won’t look authentic. It will look like you’re pretending to be something you’re not in order to get customers. That will make it impossible for you to reach Generation Z renters. You will be marked as an inauthentic rental company that doesn’t value diversity.
Now that you have a better idea of what it takes to reach Generation Z renters, it is time to get started. Craft your marketing message and prepare your campaign so you can reach as many Generation Z renters as possible. Soon, you will be able to open up a dialogue with people from Generation Z. That dialogue will make it much easier for you to fill your rental properties with young people. You will be able to swoop renters up as soon as they leave their parents’ homes. That way, you won’t have to worry about your property going unoccupied. You will always have a fresh supply of renters just waiting to move into one of your apartments or rental homes.
1Sylvan Lane. “Beyond Millennials: How to Reach Generation Z,” Mashable.com, August 20, 2014, http://mashable.com/2014/08/20/generation-z-marketing/#Sm1Osllkv8qP.
2Steve Schwetz. “How the Real Estate Market is Shifting as Gen Z Starts Renting,” MesaProperties.net, May 4, 2016, http://www.mesaproperties.net/real-estate-market-shifting-gen-z-starts-renting/.
3Emma Brazilian. “Infographic: 50% of Gen Z ‘Can’t Live Without YouTube’ and Other Stats that Will Make You Feel Old,” Adweek.com, May 21, 2017, http://www.adweek.com/digital/infographic-50-of-gen-z-cant-live-without-youtube-and-other-stats-that-will-make-you-feel-old/.
4Tessa Wegert. “5 Things Marketers Need to Know About Gen Z,” Contently.com, June 30, 2016, https://contently.com/strategist/2016/06/30/5-things-marketers-need-to-know-gen-z/.
5Pete Borum. “3 Tips to Reach Generation Z on YouTube,” ConvinceandConvert.com, http://www.convinceandconvert.com/digital-marketing/3-tips-to-reach-generation-z-on-youtube/.
6Francois Jobin. “Brands Bet Gi on Chatbots to Reach Millennials and Gen Z,” LinkedIn.com, July 21, 2016, https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/brands-bet-big-chatbots-reach-millennials-gen-z-francois-jobin.
7Marty Swant. “Kik Users Have Now Sent Branded Chatbots Nearly 2 Billion Messages,” Adweek.com, August 4, 2016, http://www.adweek.com/digital/kik-users-have-now-sent-branded-chatbots-nearly-2-billion-messages-172803/.
8Leonid Bershidsky. “Here Comes Generation Z,” Bloomberg.com, June 18, 2014, https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2014-06-18/nailing-generation-z.
9Brian Hughes. “Is Content Leaving the Dot-com Era,” HuffingtonPost.com, May 24, 2016, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/brian-hughes/is-content-leaving-the-do_b_10101304.html.
10“Infographic: Do You Know Where Gen Z is Online,” InflexionInteractive.com, https://inflexioninteractive.com/infographic-gen-z-social-media-apps/.
11Andy Friedman. “Effective Marketing to Generation Z,” AMA.org, https://www.ama.org/events-training/Conferences/Pages/marketing-to-generation-z.aspx.
12Matt Ackerson. “How to Embrace the Power of Authentic Marketing,” Forbes.com, August 10, 2012, https://www.forbes.com/sites/theyec/2012/08/10/how-to-embrace-the-power-of-authentic-marketing/2/#93813589b92a.
13John Rampton. “7 Ways Marketers Can Reach Gen Z,” Entrepreneur.com, https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/290387.
14“Virtual Reality Interest Highest Among Gen Z,” Emarketer.com, December 3, 2015, https://www.emarketer.com/Article/Virtual-Reality-Interest-Highest-Among-Gen-Z/1013295.
15Alex Konrad. “Giphy Passes 100 Million Daily Users Who Send 1 Billion GIFs Each Day, Reveals GV As Investor,” Forbes.com, October 26, 2016, https://www.forbes.com/sites/alexkonrad/2016/10/26/giphy-passes-100-million-users-reveals-gv-as-investor/#1ca94f454d64.
16Deep Patel. “5 Tips for Marketing to Generation Z,” HuffingtonPost.com, July 28, 2016, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/deep-patel/5-tips-for-marketing-to-g_b_11228510.html.
17Rachel Arthur, “Generation Z: 10 Stats From SXSW You Need to Know,” Forbes.com, March 16, 2016, https://www.forbes.com/sites/rachelarthur/2016/03/16/generation-z/#5f1016242909.