Generation Z is fast becoming the most coveted of marketing audiences. Unfortunately, it is also one of the hardest to reach. Gen Z is incredibly media savvy, so the challenge for marketers is trying to connect with an audience that already knows every marketing trick in the book. If you aren’t direct with your messaging, you’ll quickly lose Gen Zers’ attention, not to mention their trust.
On the flip side, this also presents a unique opportunity to come up with more strategic ways to reach your audience and grow your company. Gen Zers differ from previous generations in many ways, but there is one audience that can help you connect with them like never before: their teachers.
Speaking to a new kind of consumer
Generation Z breaks the mold many times over — and not always in ways that you’d expect. For instance, it’s no secret that Gen Zers are digital natives, yet the vast majority of them (about 74 percent, according to Business Insider) prefer to communicate with the people they work with face-to-face rather than online.
Digital and media savviness makes Gen Z consumers more wary about commercials and advertisements. An insincere or out-of-touch marketing message is like a repellant, automatically driving their attention away.
But, one thing that doesn’t change through the ages is the vital role that teachers play in young adults’ lives.
Teachers don’t just educate their students; they also influence the way their charges view the world and themselves within it. As role models, teachers are among the most trusted voices in any Gen Zer’s life. Teachers are also a powerful group of consumers. Reach out to them successfully, and you can tap into a valuable resource for reaching Generation Z as well.
According to MDR, a division of Dun & Bradstreet, a teacher’s influence extends beyond the classroom. In MDR’s “Teachers as Consumers” report, managing director Aaron Stibel notes that 47 percent of teachers interact often with their peers on social media. An additional 44 percent admit wanting to purchase something after seeing it online. Their recommendations extend outward to Gen Z students and their parents, making kids more willing to try the products their teachers advocate.
Why does this matter to marketers, and how should it affect their messaging? Gen Zers are a completely different audience from those most marketers are used to. Their values and priorities go against most conventional wisdom about younger generations, and they won’t respond to companies that don’t share those values and priorities. However, an authentic message brought to them via their educators can make a substantial difference, bridging the gap through a trusted intermediary.
Cultivating this bridge requires authenticity, which is the key to any successful marketing campaign today. These three avenues will be the best ways to authentically reach teachers — and by extension, their students:
1. Ease teachers’ financial burdens.
Back-to-school season can be a financially trying time for teachers. While the conventional wisdom states that parents bear the brunt of the costs for supplies, the average teacher spends about $500 of his or her own money on classroom supplies each year — making personal shopping a luxury that’s hard to afford.
Brands can lend a helping hand to these educators through special discounts in exchange for following the company on social media platforms. Not only does this help establish an ongoing relationship with the audience, but it can create openings for word-of-mouth marketing as teachers recommend the best products to administrators, parents and even kids.
2. Leverage teachers’ favored social media connections.
It probably won’t blow your mind to hear that Gen Zers spend a majority of their time on social media. It might surprise you, though, to discover that their teachers do the same. They go on Instagram to show off, create Snapchats to tell quick stories, peruse Twitter for news about current events and scroll through Facebook to get updates about family and friends.
That’s why posting on teachers’ preferred platforms with relevant messaging has strong potential for creating an enthusiastic connection. For example, teachers utilize Pinterest at a much higher rate than the national average. Your messaging can get even more teacher-focused by targeting teaching communities like the “WeAreTeachers” Facebook page, which has over a million active members. Educators often look to these platforms for lesson plan ideas and educational materials, and your brand can be there, providing resources that will go directly toward the teaching of students.
3. Appeal to their social consciousness.
Because Generation Z grew up in a smaller and more connected world, it tends to view the earth more as a single community — and to care for it as such. Gen Zers generally are more concerned about the environment, creating a sustainable future and addressing inequalities and injustices around the world. Much of this care and concern is cultivated in the classroom.
Encourage this behavior by sponsoring socially and environmentally conscious events at schools. These events are valuable for learning, which will endear you to your educator intermediaries. Not only that, but a memorable Earth Day or Women’s History Month event will associate your business with important causes to everyone involved — teachers, parents and students alike.
As they grow, reaching Gen Z consumers is an essential part of many business strategies. Yet actually interacting with this generation requires more than putting your message online. By connecting with teachers, a group that knows the members of Generation Z on a deeper and more authentic level, brands can craft genuine, meaningful messages that will be delivered via one of the most trusted of sources.