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Reaching Gen Z and Zillennials Requires a Different Approach — Text Marketing

Most brands have well-established strategies for reaching Gen Xers, millennials, and baby boomers through social media. Reaching Generation Z requires a different approach — text marketing.

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, Gen Z started abandoning traditional social media for what branding expert Sara Wilson calls “digital campfires.” These intimate online destinations offer an opportunity to make connections in relatively microcommunities to share larger experiences.

During the pandemic, participation in digital campfires by Gen Zers and the gap generation marketers identified as zillennials (born between 1993 and 1998) exploded. In October 2020, 400,000 Twitch users watched New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez playing the video game Among Us. In November of that year, a two-day performance by rapper Lil Nas X was watched by over 33 million people on Roblox, eclipsing the 27 million viewers of a series of five shows by hip-hop artist Travis Scott on Fortnight the previous April.

Generation Z has established itself as a formidable online presence. Unlike its elders, Gen Z demonstrates a mobile-first mentality. These digital natives spend, on average, eight hours a day on their connected devices, five hours a day on their phones. The first place they look for products and services is on their phones, whether inside gaming apps, on social media platforms, or inside the brand itself.

And when Gen Z hears from their brands, they look for conversational messaging, two-way communication, preferably by text. As a result, savvy brands have learned to sell to Gen Z through text marketing.

What’s Text Marketing?

Text marketing is just what it sounds like. It’s a marketing campaign that uses SMS to deliver promotions and advertisements to the users of apps, gaming platforms, and mobile devices in general. Just about any kind of ad falls under the rubric of text marketing, from simple brand and product promotion to the delivery of digital coupons and notifications of sales and discounts for select market segments. Most advertisers incorporate images (and sometimes video) into their texts.

Why Gen Z and Zillennials Prefer Text Marketing

Gen Zers and zillennials prefer text marketing because it gives them a sense of intimate connection. After all, it’s your friends who send you texts. This is the reason for the popularity of Discord, whose “servers” typically reach about 200 members.

Gen Zers and zillennials also prefer text marketing because it delivers immediate satisfaction. Many, if not most, Gen Zers and zillennials will abandon a purchase requiring bank authorization if they don’t immediately receive a two-factor authentication on their phones. Text marketing gives brands the tools to close the deal in real time. After the sale, brands can leverage SMS for simple click-to-buy links.

Mitto, a leading provider of global omnichannel communications solutions, ran a Pollfish survey of 1,000 Americans in May 2022 that found that two-thirds of Gen Z and zillennial respondents preferred text marketing over other forms of advertising — and 90% of consumers of all ages say it’s vital for brands to interact with them over their preferred modes of communication.

What are the secrets to successful text marketing? Mitto found that speed is critical. In the survey, 58% of Gen Z and zillennial respondents reported that they expect two-factor authentication to come up on their phones immediately, and 41% will abandon their purchase if it doesn’t.

Mitto also found that 86% of respondents wanted brands to confirm their identities during purchases, while 41% say that $200 qualifies as a “large” purchase.

And a majority of respondents of all ages reported that SMS is the best way to secure two-factor authorization during a purchase.

Text Marketing and Conversational Messaging Aren’t Enough

It’s not enough to emulate the intimacy of digital campfires with conversational messaging. Nor is it enough to rely on text marketing to reach younger consumers.

This generation that first became aware of family finances during the downturn of 2008 is notoriously frugal. Price is especially influential to the decision to buy.

Gen Zers and zillennials are also imbued with a social conscience. They expect their brands to make their statements in support of good causes — and to put money into the social causes they support.

But the critical tool for marketing to America’s youngest adults is maintaining just the right social distance while respecting their time. Text marketing is the most productive sales tool for reaching Gen Z.

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