Is “Generation Z” the most complex consumer to challenge marketers yet?

Marketers and PR folk have long been obsessed with Millennials, those born in the eighties and nineties as supposedly the first generation to adapt to the ‘new age’.

However as this market starts to edge into their mid-thirties, there is a new, younger generation paving their way into the world.

They have grown up completely immersed in the iGeneration, and knows no different.

They are “Generation Z”.

The end of traditional media (like, really this time)

For marketing professionals this presents an interesting demographic to target, as the way they play almost turns traditional consumer behaviour on its head.

Latest research shows that Generation Z are completely turned off by celebrity culture and traditional media, and are more tuned in to peer to peer recommendation and online superstars like Zoe Sugg, Tanya Burr, Jim Chapman and Alfie Deyes.

For female Generation Z-ers, bloggers are actually cited as the fourth most popular “celebrity” influence.

A generation that has always been connected to each other 24/7

Chloe Combi, author of Generation Z, defines this audience as those born between 1995 and 2001 – a subset of Generation Y, really, but a distinct one, whose dates coincide with the spread of home internet connections and mobile phones.

She explains: “Those two things birthed a different world, which is the world this generation was born into.

This iGeneration can’t conceive of a world before everyone owned a mobile phone, and instant gratification is their norm; they have it in the palms of their hands within moments, usually for free.

This ability to find whatever they’re after without the help of intermediaries – such as libraries, shops or teachers – has made them more independent and self-directed than generations before them.”

Looking beyond Facebook

For Generation Z, social media is king, but not as maybe you and I know it.

Unsurprisingly Facebook, as with most demographics, remains the number one platform, however for Generation Z, Snapchat is the second most popular, with 42% of this audience checking Snapchat at least once a day.

For other audiences, Snapchat would barely even appear in the Top 10. With Snapchat increasingly looking to monetise their service, this is a really interesting platform to keep an eye on if you have a product or service that targets this complex group.

Where Generation Z are concerned, you can pretty much also assume that print media is dead.

This is isn’t to say they don’t pick up the odd magazine or newspaper, however for genuine cut through, online sites, bloggers and vloggers are the media that hold the real power of influence.

When asked what influenced their buying decisions, no traditional media apart from TV appeared in the top 10.

These guys shop around, read review sites and blogs, seek out recommendations and refer constantly to social media.

This isn’t an audience to be fobbed off; they are savvy, and seek value for money.

As technology continues to advance at an incredible rate, and what we know from one generation to the next changes rapidly, keeping on the pulse of varying and differing consumer behaviours and applying this knowledge to your creative approach will make all the difference between failure and success.

For any successful marketing or PR campaign, consumer profiling and understanding how your target audience plays is pivotal.

Generation Z are a really interesting demographic, and certainly make for a challenging and exciting audience to engage with.

The New York Times describes them as ‘the next big thing for market researchers, cultural observers and trend forecasters’, and Women’s Wear Daily as ‘the next big retail disrupter’.

Here is a snazzy infographic that pulls all the information together (source:

Generation Z


Preventing buyer’s remorse is the missing (vital) piece of your marketing strategy

For most businesses, customer marketing is based upon the premise their customers are comfortable with a purchase, instantly focusing on areas such as up-selling, cross-selling and engagement.

This is a mistake that increases cancellations and churn.

For businesses that sell expensive or complicated products (or businesses that are new to the market), the period immediately after purchase has the highest danger of cognitive dissonance (aka “buyer’s remorse”) and churn than at any other time.

Post Purchase cognitive dissonance is the phrase we give to the state of unease which exists in the customer’s mind after buying a product or service”


In terms of your approach to marketing, these new customers share more in common with non-customer marketing.

  • Non-customer: The population you want to buy from you but haven’t done so yet. Convert by selling the benefits of your business/product.
  • New customer: Recent buyer, possible cognitive dissonance. Reassure and retain selling the benefits of your business/product.
  • Customer: Established paying customer. Increase LTV upselling and cross-selling.

In this post I will show you why proactive post-purchase validation is so important, and share ideas you can implement quickly and easily.

What is post-purchase validation?

Customer research doesn’t always end once a product/service has been bought. This is especially true if they are buying from someone new, or making a considered purchase.

A considered purchase is one that requires research, and is not done on a whim.

For example, from my perspective, toothpaste is a non-considered purchase (a low cost, low risk product).

A considered purchase would be a new PC, because it would require a lot of research to ensure my personal perceived risk factors are all ticked off.

Perceived risk is one of the cornerstones of consumer psychology. It deals with the psychological barriers that may prevent us from making a purchase:

  • Functional: Will the product work?
  • Psychological: Am I doing the right thing?
  • Social: Will my peers approve?
  • Financial: Can I afford this?
  • Time: Do I have the time to complete this purchase?
  • Physical: Will this product harm me?

A consumer’s level of uncertainty after a complex purchase decision typically sees them attempt to reduce their anxiety.

This is done by collecting more information post-purchase.

People want to be told they made the right choice

Post-purchase validation reassures us that we have not harmed ourselves in one of the ways described above.

The interesting thing here is, after buying a product consumers are not looking for objective content; they want/need it to be positive.

They want to be reassured it was the right choice, and not be told they may have made a mistake.

Renowned psychologist Robert Cialdini highlights our deep-seated psychological desire to stay true to that commitment, because it directly relates to our self-image.

We therefore attempt to rationalise any product problems seen, justify the choice made and protect our self-image.

This gives you a great opportunity to control the message and reassure your customers.

Your challenge is to continue addressing your customer’s’ perceived risk factors, and present content that plays into their desire to be proven correct in choosing you.

If you are not controlling the message, it means you have no influence over where they go looking for this content, or whether your customers are seeing positive or negative post-purchase content.

Combatting cognitive dissonance in your marketing

Purchase confirmation page

Immediately after purchase is a great opportunity to support and celebrate their purchase, especially by addressing social risk. e.g.

Thank you for purchasing

You just joined a community of 100,000 successful professional content marketers

Click here to login

Welcome email

Quite possibly your most important customer marketing tool, your welcome email serves a lot of functions.

One that is often overlooked is continuing to market to the customer, and reassure them they made the right choice.
Some ideas include:

  • Stats about how many people have used your product (functional risk)
  • Testimonials from happy customers (social risk)
  • Remind them about your 30-day money back guarantee (financial risk)
  • Direct them to perform a successful action straight away (functional risk)

First time they log-in to your control panel

Support your customers’ first use of their control panel by wrapping up useful onboarding with social proofing.

For example, lead with a message or pop-up:

Getting started

Find out how 100,000 fellow content marketers successfully use our software

Click here for our quick start guide

You don’t need to keep selling yourself repeatedly, so I would limit this to the first time they log-in to their control panel.

Follow-up communication

Don’t assume that new customers are happily using your product/service, or that dissatisfied customers will let you know.

A typical business hears from 4% of its dissatisfied customers


Send new customers an email 24 hours after purchase, asking them if they need any help and/or if they are satisfied with their purchase. Respond to any questions or dissatisfaction instantly.

Physical purchases

All these examples have dealt with digital products and communications, but the concept still applies to tangible products.

Include a note in your customer’s delivery orders about how other customers loved using your product.

Better social media marketing in 10 easy steps

A 2014 study found that around 90% of brands were active on social media, so nobody really needs convincing to get involved anymore. Now that we’re all online though, are we really making the most of the opportunities that social can offer us?

Here are 10 simple ways to keep your social media strategy fresh and give your fans and followers what they want:

Catch their eye

Grabbing the attention of your audience is key – social media channels constantly display new information, so making sure your content instantly engages a user is vital.

Images should be bold and your titles concise, and if you’re creating video content for a platform like Facebook, then the first three seconds are crucial.

Videos auto play without sound on Facebook timelines, so those first few moments of your video need to draw the viewer in.

Producing a short 3 second montage of your video to put at the start will entice users to keep watching, more than a dry company logo or introduction will.

Be consistent

Getting users to look at your content is the first step, but keeping them there is the hard part. To keep your followers engaged you should become a reliable source of information.

Post regularly (every day if you can), but check the best practice guidelines for each platform you use, as they do vary in the regularity of posts.

The experts from automated social posting tool, Buffer, published some information on their posting schedule earlier this year, showing that Twitter has a much more active user base, and engagement rates only seem to grow after you post more than three times a day.

The most important thing is to be consistent. Test strategies and timings, see what works, and then establish yourself on the platform.

Follow up

Research has shown that it takes on average 7-13 ‘touches’ from a salesperson to generate a qualified sales lead. That seems like a lot of follow-ups, but it highlights the importance of multi-channel marketing.

The content you share online can help establish your brand and grow your audience but it might not necessarily lead to sales.

Follow up on social content with eye catching adverts – social media sites have some great features, which can let you directly target your audience.

You can drill down into your audience’s age range, location, and even interests and even with limited budgets promote your content so that it appears on their timelines and feeds.

Facebook ads can now take data from users’ Google searches too –  a brand like Prestige Post-boxes might use Facebook ads to follow up on a user’s recent Google searches for wedding favours and decorations.

Create calls to action

Always create a next step for followers, so you don’t lose them as soon as they finish looking at your content.

Your call to action could encourage them to click through and read more information, subscribe to a newsletter or sign up to a service or product.

Charities in particular are very good at providing users with calls to action in their social posts. The British Red Cross Facebook page is a great example of not overselling something.

While they occasionally prompt users to donate, generally their content is interesting and engaging, rather than being solely focussed on conversions.

Not everything has to be a hard sell – if you prove your worth to an audience as a brand, they’ll make their own decisions.

Check who you’re following

While social media provides you with a great platform on which you can engage with your customers, it can also be a valuable tool for you as a business.

Use it to find influencers in your niche and get information about trends in the industry. Many brands recognise the importance of showing their followers they’re engaged by following them back, and replying to tweets and messages.

Although it’s important to engage with your followers, it doesn’t mean you have to follow everyone who follows you.

Check who your followers are before automatically following them back, and though it might be easier to cast a wide net, you’ll be rewarded later if you’re more selective.

Tools like Manage Flitter can help you get an overview of your followers and manage who you’re following across multiple accounts.

Check who’s following you

When  you’re building a social following, it can be tempting to try a range of different tactics, in order to get new followers quickly.

While your follower count can be an initially positive sign to potential followers of your prominence, it really is a false economy.

Buying followers will mean that you have a bigger audience, but not one that’s interested in what you have to say. If your follower list is full of irrelevant or spam accounts, then you need to readjust your strategy.

Spam accounts will generally have few followers, generic looking tweets, and no imagery on their profiles.

Focus on what works

There’s only so much time in the day, so don’t waste your time on what isn’t working. Pick a platform that your audience is most active on and put all of your efforts into that platform.

Look at what your competitors are doing and whether it’s going well. If it is, you can try and learn from it.

Many factors can influence the success of a piece of content: relevancy to the time period and relevancy to the audience’s interests are probably the two most important.

Flooring retailer, Posh Flooring, recently ran a competition to find Britain’s Ugliest Carpet. It encouraged those on social media to offer up pictures of their own carpet for the prize.

Not only was the competition relevant to their own niche and products, but it gave their followers the chance to get involved too.

By finding something their customers were keen to share and focusing on the campaign over a 3-month period, the company saw a great uplift in followers who had all engaged with the competition and were interested in their products.

Make to fit

Once you’ve got your focus, don’t waste the opportunities you have. All platforms have different nuances that make them special, but they all have restrictions too.

When you’re creating images for each of your accounts, you should check the guidelines and create posts which fit into them.

Cover photos and profile pictures can easily cut off important information or parts of an image if not sized correctly.

Tools like Canva can help make sure your images are the right size across all social media platforms.

Make sure your content and brand is right for each platform too – if you work in a fast paced industry, then Twitter should be your focus, if you’re a tech company, then make the most of Google+.

Keep your details uniform

Your address and contact information should be the same on all platforms. Not only will this give a good impression to users who follow you on multiple platforms, but it will also help search engines recognise and reward you for offering clear information.

There’s  evidence that platforms like Google+ have been used as a ranking factor in the past, and as social becomes more integrated into all of our lives, surely it will play an important role in future.

Just as you should stay consistent with your posts, make sure all your details are consistent too.

Tag it up

Hashtags aren’t just for One Direction fans, they can be a really useful tool when it comes to getting your content in front of an active and potentially new audience.

All of the major networks use some form of tag now to help users find content around particular topics, and people use it more than you might think.

Instagram, Twitter and Tumblr are traditionally the home of the tag, but it’s being used more and more on Facebook and other platforms as well.

Facebook’s trending section in the side bar of its news feed now even analyses the trends of certain phrases without hashtags, so if you use the right keyword you could get your content to an audience looking to find information on something you have the answer to.

Don’t be a marketing dinosaur

As a marketing professional of 10 years, personal development is always at the forefront of my mind. Since starting my first marketing job the landscape has changed dramatically.

The biggest change has been the move from narrow offline channels (local press, Yellow Pages, directories etc.), to a fragmented online media landscape for small businesses.

And with that shift, the ever evolving skills required to manage marketing campaigns has demanded we always have to be learning and developing.

From Google AdWords, to Facebook Ads, to YouTube, to content marketing, to Instagram, to Periscope and beyond.

With this in mind, if you could give one piece of advice to a new marketer looking to stay relevant in an ever-changing industry what would it be?

Here is some useful tips and advice from fellow marketing professionals, put together in a handy infographic by



Looking to start a career in marketing?

Have a read my post with advice on how to get your first job in marketing (as well tips for businesses looking to hire their first marketing employee).

Teach yourself customer marketing

Customer marketing, relationship marketing, loyalty marketing… whatever you call it, it is important!

Attracting new customers will cost your company 5 times more than keeping an existing customer, and a five percent increase in customer retention can increase a company’s profitability by 75 percent.

Additionally, renewing a happy customer on average costs just 11 percent of what it would cost to acquire a new customer.

With stats like that, why are marketers (and I’m as guilty as anyone) so obsessed with putting customer acquisition at the heart of their strategy?

Let’s get started…

This is my favourite post, so I am putting it at the top, and I would strongly recommend you read it. It shows you how you can accurately measure your customer’s share of wallet. A great source for marketing ideas in general, the Harvard Business Review’s ‘The value in wowing your customers’, looks at the benefits in going the extra mile.

Micro-moments are an idea put forward by Google to represent our increasing reliance on mobile devices to get instant information about a problem (e.g. fixing a tap), business or product. With this in mind, businesses supporting their customer’s micro-moments are winning.

Brand loyalty is one of the most difficult assets for a business to attain. Here are 10 tactics for increasing customer lifetime value and loyalty.

User onboarding is a hot topic right now, and Samuel Hick’s breakdown of the best damn onboarding flow I’ve ever seen, has plenty of takeaways for you to use.

A legend in the filed of long-form, ideas packed blog posts, Neil Patel’s  guide to creating an auto responder that subscribers can’t wait to open is jam packed with practical advice.

Vero’s ultimate lifecycle email marketing guide could (and probably should) be turned in to a book. It is big, and it is meaty, but it is worth your time.

Customer acquisition is easy to measure and report on, but how do you measure customer loyalty. Here is some some really useful guidance on how to quantify the value of customer loyalty.

Customer service isn’t a department argues that customer service is not just the responsibility of your support agent, but that it should permeate through the entire business – including marketing.

Groove’s blog is a goldmine for anyone interested in improving their customer marketing. I especially like their ‘How we grew our customer exit survey responses by 785%’.

Help Scout’s Creating customers for life: 50 resources on loyalty, churn and retention is a collection of some of my favourite reads on loyalty, churn, and retention, with a bias toward online businesses (particularly SaaS and ecommerce).

You should also have a read of their ‘Improve free trials by getting to know your customers’.

And finally from them, their 75 customer service fast, quotes and statistics is a goldmine.

Baremterics have shared the 17 emails they send to engage customers, reduce churn and increase revenue. Have a read here.

How well do you know your customers? Buyer personas are a great way to get in to the mind of your customers, and help shape your marketing efforts. Shopify have put together a guide on how to build buyer personas.

Read more

This post is part of my series pointing you in the direction of the best sources of information to teach yourself about various aspects of marketing.

Previous posts include teach yourself… Marketing a SaaS product, making and promoting an infographic, social media marketing, starting and writing a blog, paid search advertising, affiliate marketing, and SEO.

Over a third of Brits will do this year’s Christmas shopping online

A survey into Christmas spending habits has revealed that online shopping is now on the brink of being Britain’s favourite way to shop during the festive season.

10,000 people across the UK were asked how they’ll be doing the majority of this year’s Christmas shop, and what they loved most about shopping in-store and online – with Brits sharing the reasons they prefer each of the two retail platforms.

  • In-store and online shopping are neck-and-neck on the countdown to Christmas 2015
  • Brits shop in-store for the hands-on experience, while online shopping is praised for convenience and price comparison options
  • Almost a quarter of men in the UK admit they’ll be delegating Christmas shopping duties to their significant other

Earlier this month, Marketing Magazine revealed that two thirds of British Christmas shoppers find the best bargains by finding products in-store and shopping for better prices online – highlighting the unique benefits offered by each channel.

This new study, conducted by online marketing agency me:ta, saw UK shoppers praise the opportunity to get hands-on with products in-store – while the convenience of e-commerce sites is making online shopping an increasingly popular option.

Other once-popular shopping alternatives appear to be on their way out – with less than 2% of Brits intending to use catalogues, TV or telephone for their Christmas shopping in 2015.

Christmas Shop Chart

Retail unwrapped

This Christmas, it looks like Brits are finding most of their stocking fillers in-store – with 38% of participants planning to do the majority of their seasonal shop in brick-and-mortar stores rather than online.

When it comes to the advantages of shopping in-store, Brits believe it’s the hands-on aspect that makes the difference – along with the easy returns policy and human touch of customer service.

18% of men surveyed were drawn to the instant gratification found with in-store shopping, while 24% of British women like having the opportunity to ask for help.

The Christmas shopping cart

One resounding outcome of the survey saw online shopping edge ever closer to the in-store experience, bringing in a hefty 37% of the overall vote thanks to the unmatched convenience of the online platform.

Last year, Capgemini reported that online retail in the UK had, in 2014, surpassed £100bn for the first time – with 13% growth during the Christmas period versus the previous year.

And it looks like the online retail revolution is taking Britain by storm, with over half of 35-44 year-olds – and a substantial 33% of over-65s – planning to buy most of this year’s Christmas presents online.

In spite of being home to Britain’s biggest and best high street shopping experience, 39% of London’s residents are also turning to e-commerce for their Christmas shop – and 17% of Londoners say pricing is the reason they choose to Google their Christmas gift ideas.

Santa’s little helper

According to the study, Christmas shopping isn’t everyone’s idea of a yuletide treat – with 20% of Brits admitting they’ll be delegating this duty to their other half.

Almost a quarter of British men revealed their partner will be taking control of the Christmas shop – and over 40% of Yorkshire’s male population are planning to outsource shopping to their significant other this season.

With catalogue, TV and telephone shopping bringing in combined support of just 4%, Christmas 2015 looks like a two-horse retail race – with the in-store experience giving way to online shopping, as silver surfers embrace the advantages of logging on.