Gen Z marketing often brings thoughts of viral social media posts and addictive brands that can get consumers to pay exorbitant prices for desirable products. Companies, such as Supreme, Gucci, Snapchat, and Zara have all risen to prominence with the modern-day youth through unique branding tactics.
After the housing bubble in 2008 and the rise of DIY home design in combination with evolving housing trends, many interior designers, home builders, and home goods companies are struggling to stand-out in an excessively competitive and rapidly changing consumer market. Can you even name the brand of your toilet or kitchen faucet and if you can, how often do you actually think about the brand when using the product?
In order to breakout this fairly stagnant industry needs to differentiate itself and latch onto the new age marketing techniques Gen Z loves. Failure to do so could mean displacement of market share and new entrants out competing existing players.
1. Influencer Marketing
One of the largest developments in marketing for Gen Z is the rise of influencer marketing, where individuals with enormous social following leverage their influence to vouch for and support a brand. People want to be like Kanye, so if Kanye rides and dies by a specific chewing gum, you better believe his fans will start chewing that brand too.
While this principle has been primarily used with fashion and more standard consumer goods, the home goods market has two opportunities to enter into this marketing opportunity.
First, they can identify home goods and design influencers, such as stars from HGTV, design curators, and other influencers that people turn to for advice on aesthetic trends. These people will easily be able to assert a home goods brand to their following and make the endorsement seem natural in order to boost desirability.
Secondly, companies can differentiate their products to add a new edge to the style, functionality, or quality. If you tour a historic home, you’ll notice the home goods from 1800 look relatively similar to the home goods of today, so it is hard to get a trendy influencer such as the Kardashian crew to support these uninventive product lines. However, if you take a page from Nest or Swell Bottle, you will see that even the simplest of goods can be given a facelift and made trendy.
2. Tech-focused Development
Gen Z is a generation of tech-natives. They grew up on Facebook, are constantly on Snapchat, and interact with advanced interfaces and algorithms constantly. This has affected how they look at new products and companies. Even the fashion house, Supreme, which makes hoodies, sweats, and various clothes, also releases a “gadget” with every launch so as to incorporate a technology aspect with the brand.
Home goods need to be more advanced if they want to impress young consumers and a large part of this will be thinking about how they interact with their current devices. Apple rose to prominence because the iPhone had a sophisticated user interface. Similarly, the Nest thermostat brought this type of sleek aesthetic, simple interface, and smart functionality to home thermostats. While companies, such as Delta Faucets, are making steps towards tech-infused products, such as the touch-turnoff kitchen sink, that has more novelty than futuristic technology.
As companies think about how to bring their product lines into the 21st century they need to spend a large amount of time looking at specific user needs and dedicating resources towards product design. Robinhood, the free online stock trading platform, is one of the best examples how successful a well-designed product can be. The company knew young people spend a matter of seconds on their apps and trading a stock needed to be so simple it could be done in that short timeframe. Home goods need to understand how people live in their homes and create tech-oriented products that help users as much as Robinhood does for its userbase.
3. Innovative Living Environments
Between AirBnB and WeWork, the housing and real estate markets have evolved drastically since even the early 2000s. People are not getting married at young ages, moving to the suburbs, and living in single-family homes. As this trend of newer living environments persists, the goods in these environments needs to evolve as well.
Average household sizes are growing, which was one of the factors that contributed to the robust estimates that built the housing bubble, and in turn people are living more communally. Also, the rate of home ownership dropped from near 69% in 2005 to roughly 64%, meaning more people are opting to rent and are delaying home ownership. Finally, the population size of people over 65 will double by 2020, which means there will be a drastic growth in elderly homes and a need for elderly focused products as well.
Overall, Generation Z is rethinking housing environments and forcing home builders to tailor housing options to the desires of their target customers. This means home goods developers also must tailor product offerings for maximum usage, functionality, and enjoyment from customers.
4. Content Marketing
Finally, the most direct impact of Gen Z has been the shift of social media usage. Over 70% of Gen Z consumers 30+ minutes of mobile video a day and more than 20% consumes 2+ hours a day. Gen Z also spends an average of 8 hours a day on their devices and loves social media. They are a generation of content creators and consumers.
The rise of AdBlock and streaming platforms (and in turn decrease of television commercial viewing) has made Gen Z believe they are entitled to not see advertisements. So spammy posts from company social media channels promoting sales is annoying and will likely result in unfollowing the page. Companies need to create content Gen Z wants to consume if they want to capture the youngsters’ attention.
Creating mobile video, writing fun and interesting blog posts, and keeping promotional content off of social media is the best way for companies to engage and develop relationships with Gen Z and in turn, the next time they turn on their faucet or dial down the temperature, they will think about brand of the product and not just let the action be muscle-memory.