Move over, millennials. The big focus for today's student and multifamily housing investors should be Generation Z, aka Gen Z.
With the oldest Gen Z-ers set to turn 22 in 2019, they represent a new market for rental properties now and in the years to come. Gen Z is a very large demographic, even bigger, some say, than millennials. Gen Z this year is projected to make up 32 percent of the global population, slightly more than the millennials' 31.5 percent share.
Here are some insights on their lifestyle preferences and tools to reach them:
What Does Gen Z Want?
Like earlier generations, Gen Z-ers have their own values and experiences that inform what they want in a home.
Their wish list, according to a ForRent.com report, includes:
- Community spaces: Picture Starbucks-like areas where Gen Z-ers go to relax, collaborate with others and have conversations with their peers.
- Digital connectivity: For Gen Z-ers, WiFi networks, smart home gadgets and USB charging ports aren't just nice to have—they're a requirement.
- Social and environmental responsibility: Gen Z-ers value diversity and want to make their world—or the entire world—a better place. They like socially responsible brands and environmentally-friendly buildings and amenities.
- Roommate-friendly options: Some eight in 10 Gen Z-ers live with someone else, whether it's a family member, roommate or significant other, according to ForRent.com. Therefore, they may prefer housing that offers both private and shared spaces.
- Fast communications: Forget voicemail and email. Gen Z-ers like to text, and they expect real-time responsiveness. Eight in 10 use social media, so that's one channel to connect with them.
- Bargain prices: Gen Z-ers grew up during the Great Recession, which taught them to be careful with money. They like instant coupons, look for online flash sales and appreciate a good deal.
"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," according to VerticalRent's guide to Gen Z renters. "They want to save money on their rental property, so they can sock away some money for the future."
How to Connect with Gen-Z
The National Apartment Association offers these tips to attract Gen Z renters:
- Use video: Gen Z-ers like visuals (think: infographics, emojis, GIFs). To find them online, skip websites and Google searches, and go to YouTube, Snapchat and Instagram. Authenticity and accuracy are more important to this group than high-quality video production.
- Incorporate personal recommendations: Gen Z-ers trust their friends more than online ratings or reviews, or comments from people they don't know.
- Promote social spaces and local eateries: Gen Z-ers like gathering spots more than fitness centers or swimming pools, and they're the ultimate foodies, always on the hunt for the latest food experience. Highlight socializing and culinary activities to get their attention.
- Go online: Gen Z-ers were born into an age of constant connectivity. They expect convenient online services, such as resident portals, digital documents, e-signatures and credit-card payments.
"For years, landlords put all of their efforts into marketing to millennials," says VerticalRent. "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."