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Blog Image March 04, 2019

Demanding and Digitally-Powered Gen-Z Renters are Shaking Up the Apartment Market

For years, the buzzword in the multifamily housing industry has been “Millennials.” This unique demographic has been responsible for leading the surge in rental housing, as well as pushing it into a more digitized space. They have actively reshaped how we market, deliver services, and interact online. Although Millennials, ranging from ages 22 to 37, are still active in the rental market, there is a new demographic that you should pay close attention to.

Meet Generation-Z, which accounts for nearly 61 million people in the U.S. alone, and is quickly outpacing Millennials in terms of population size. With its oldest members hovering around ages 18 to 22, this group is now beginning to enter the rental and job markets. Although Generation-Z is following in the footsteps of Millennials, the two generations are not one in the same. Both are incredibly smart, pro-tech, and progressive in their personal views, but Gen-Z is the first demographic born completely within “The Digital Age,” knowing only how to lead a life where resources, products, and services are instantaneous.

To capitalize on this emerging demographic, many companies will need to up their technology game, especially when it comes to mobile-friendly digital platforms. Gen-Z spends an average of 26 hours per week on their mobile phones, so they expect all content to be easily accessible and formatted to fit screens across multiple devices. Gen-Z’s are a unique group with clear demands of wanting access to information and services instantaneously. If your community is not delivering this along with a seamless user online experience, you will likely get passed over with the swipe of a finger.

Deliver Information, Not a Pitch

As hard as you may try when it comes to mobilizing your web presence, you cannot try too hard in your marketing campaigns. Gen-Z does not like to be sold to; instead, they want to be informed, so they can formulate their own opinion. In other words, you must be relatable, transparent, and authentic in your marketing. Most notably of all, you need to deliver information – not a pitch – to this unique audience. Think content marketing versus traditional advertising. Additionally, Gen-Z sees no difference between online and offline business transactions and demands the ability to connect with you anywhere and on any device they happen to be using at the moment.

Having grown up in the era of infiltrative pop-up ads, there is nothing Generation-Z dislikes more than being sold to, and because of their aversion to spam, they’ve developed an excellent filter against forced or unrelatable communication. Instead, they prefer to receive personalized information that allows them to formulate their own assessment of businesses before choosing to support them. In fact, recent studies have shown an estimated 70 percent of consumers prefer learning about a company through custom content, and are interested in building relationships with brands that provide the information they seek.

Gen Z-ers love to feel heard and receive personalized incentives as a result. So, use consumer data to learn more about your prospective renter and create appealing offers with them in mind. For example, you could examine your floor plan data to see which plans are most alluring and offer specials on those specific apartment homes. Another great way to appeal to potential residents with personalized attention is with a dedicated content marketing strategy. Publishing regularly-scheduled blogs about local events will establish your property as an authority on all things hyper-local, which will, in turn, attract Gen-Z urbanites to your website and into your sales funnel.

Embrace Their Digitally-Powered Lifestyle

After you’ve perfected your Gen-Z-minded marketing strategy, you’ll want to ensure that your offerings are in line with this generation’s expectations. In other words, don’t even think about attempting to lease an apartment to a member of Generation-Z if your community is not equipped with the digitally-powered amenities your new resident has come to expect in a rental home.

While it’s true that many of today’s renters—despite their age— are attune to the digital lifestyle, this is even more so when it comes to Generation-Z. They have been fully immersed in technology their entire lives, view innovation as an everyday affair, and won’t be impressed by any property who has yet to jump on the smart tech bandwagon. They seek automated climate control to keep their utility bills slim, smart lockers to keep their packages secure, and pick-up and drop-off accommodations that cater to their preference for rideshare services. Failure to provide those tech savvy features could cause your lead-to-lease rates with this particular demographic to suffer.

Don’t overlook digitally-powered transactions, such as payments and service requests, either. An estimated 71 percent of Gen Z-ers make purchases on their smartphones, so they’ll likely frown upon a property manager who tells them to pay rent with a physical check in lieu of paying online. The same goes for service requests, lease renewals, or any typical workflows inherent of the resident lifecycle. This next-generation renter expects your services to be available online and accessible at their leisure. Extend your tech-forward offerings to these everyday aspects of renting, and your efforts are sure to pay off with increased interest from Generation-Z.

Provide Lifestyle-Centric Spaces

One of the more notable Generation-Z characteristics is their focus on lifestyle. Chalk it up to constant social media exposure or the seemingly limitless nature of the Internet, but no matter the cause, they are heavily focused on creating an ideal lifestyle for themselves. As a result, they will appreciate any space that equips them with the features needed to achieve this goal.

Apartment communities would do well to introduce amenities that bolster Gen-Z’s career and health goals without sacrificing a sociable atmosphere. You can appeal to their entrepreneurial mentality with open co-working spaces, and their energetic nature with fitness centers that boast the latest health gadgets to keep them active and engaged. Not to mention, environmentally-friendly green spaces will provide the perfect setting for your next-gen residents to socialize or meditate.

Above all else, Generation-Z is seeking experience-based apartment living. These residents aren’t interested in spending evenings alone in their apartment. Instead, they crave connection. For instance, your resident may be fresh out of college, where they enjoyed mixed-use student housing options that came complete with shared spaces and a full schedule of resident events. To replicate this experience, your property management team might consider hosting resident mixers or movie nights, which will help foster a sense of community and encourage retention across. Again, you should be an ambassador for the local events as well.

With a population that exceeds that of Millennials, Generation-Z are indisputably the ones to watch in the multifamily market. Millions of these tech savvy renters have already begun to infiltrate our industry, and with more graduating college in the coming years, it’s safe to say that we’ve only just begun to witness this demographic’s full impact on the market as we know it. If your team hopes to capitalize on this generation’s immense buying power, you’ll want to make the investments necessary to ensure that your apartment marketing and on-site services are meaningful, accessible, and in line with Gen-Z’s lifestyle preferences.

About The Author

Kerry W. Kirby is a renowned entrepreneur, speaker, and technology innovator. He is the founder and CEO of 365 Connect, the leader in delivering the world's most sophisticated automated marketing, leasing, and resident engagement platform for multifamily communities across the globe.

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