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The loyalty world is frantic to get Gen Z signed onto their programs.

Lanndon Lindsay

They're young, filled with disposable income (according to Forbes, Gen Z will impact up to $143 billion in direct spending in the US by 2020), and are highly influential amongst their peers. The only problem? Gen Z consumers appear to be scampering away from loyalty programs. Gen Z is less likely than other generations to join loyalty programs, and perhaps even more intrinsically worrying, the latest Deloitte Millennial Survey describes Gen Z as experiencing a disenfranchisement with contemporary businesses and brands. Loyalty marketers simply can't afford to lose this demographic…but what exactly is going wrong in the first place? Here's a look at three loyalty missteps you might be making in the face of Gen Z.

REASON 1: IN THE AGE OF INSTANT GRATIFICATION, YOU TAKE TOO LONG

The defining characteristic of Gen Z is the technological world they inhabit. From smartphones to social media, their every move is influenced by a digital context that feeds them information immediately, and is ready to interact with them instantaneously. So when your loyalty program makes collecting points or stacking up purchases a longwinded process, there's little chance Gen Z shoppers are going to wait patiently for their reward. The research from Mobile Marketer backs this up: nearly half of Gen Z's agree that programs require too many purchases to earn rewards or redeem points. Offering immediate rewards for signup is a great way to boost initial interaction, but this won't guarantee ongoing engagement. Perhaps it's time to consider a re-analysis of points allocation and reward valuation strategies to better serve Gen Z's needs.

REASON 2: IS YOUR TECH REALLY THAT COOL?

Gen Z lives in a technological wonderland. To them, tech isn’t just a means to an end (such as when checking a bank account or ordering a pizza)…it can be a form of entertainment in its own right, or even a window through which to form deeper connections to the real world. Often times, the omnipresent smartphone is the right tool to facilitate these functions, but tech such as wearable devices, augmented and virtual reality, and on-premise facial recognition systems are becoming more prevalent (and less costly). As marketers, there's just no excuse to leave these tools at the door when trying to engage Gen Z. Forbes reports that sixty-seven percent Gen Z survey participants are interested in discovering, exploring and buying new products with the help of emerging interfaces such as voice-based virtual assistants and virtual reality. Now take a step back and ask yourself how close your own program is to offering this level of innovative technology.

REASON 3: GEN Z'S HAVE A TOUGH TIME TRUSTING YOU

Few would disagree that we're living in a volatile time – especially when it comes to businesses and their ability to maintain consumer trust. Issues such as data misuse and a near constant threat of hacks prevail; politics and business collide; it's an era where a reputation can evaporate in mere moments. The general turbulence has led to an overall disillusionment with brands from the perspective of Gen Z. This also has the side effect of making Gen Z notoriously difficult to market to. As an intelligent, self-aware generation, tapping into their psyche with the loyalty ploys of the past simply won't yield positive results. That's why Gen Z responds best to tactics such as influencer involvement, social engagements, and pop-culture integrations - these are all ways of building genuine authenticity by creating a transparent brand with an understandable voice.

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