Gen Z Renters: What You Need to Know
As millennials transition from renters into homeowners, the multi-family industry needs to prepare for the next generation of renters: Generation Z. Though often bucketed together with millennials, Gen Zers are different. The primary difference between these two generations is their relationship to technology. Gen Z relies more heavily on the internet and social media to make purchasing and lifestyle decisions than millennials. Whether it’s a group chat with family or a sponsored YouTube video, Gen Z knows how to leverage technology to find the information they need.
Along with being digital natives, Gen Zers make up almost one-quarter of the U.S. population. They are graduating college, or skipping it entirely, and hitting the rental scene. With 60% of Gen Z looking to rent, an estimated 44.4 million upcoming renters are on the hunt for their own apartment.
With so many renters hitting the market, start planning your marketing strategies for this demographic sooner rather than later. To give you a head start, here’s what you need to know about Gen Z renters so you can reach them now and keep them engaged as tenants for years to come.
Who are Gen Z Renters?
They’re fluent in tech
Having grown up with the world just clicks away, Gen Zers are incredibly tech-savvy, global, and inclusive. They live in a fast-paced world of social media messaging and on-demand media. This innate connection to technology requires you to provide information about your properties online that’s easily accessible via their smartphones. To do so, make sure your website is informative, loads quickly, and is optimized for mobile use.
They are kids of the Great Recession
Unlike millennials, who entered the workforce during the Great Recession, Gen Z watched their parents struggle to make ends meet. Therefore, they are more frugal than their predecessors. This frugality affects everything from the brands they buy to the homes they choose, so offering units at lower price points will help you to attract more Gen Z renters.
They value individuality
Technology has also shaped Gen Z’s expectations of personalization. They can stream almost any show, movie, or song in seconds. Media platforms allow them to build their own channels and playlists, giving them control over what they see and hear. Show that you’re paying attention to who Gen Z renters are as individuals by including questionnaires on your website. You can stick with basic questions such as: “how do you want to be contacted?” or get more creative with a quiz that locates their ideal property based on the amenities they want most.
Gen Zers are a highly creative group. Almost three-quarters of current high school students want to own their own business, while 76% want to turn current hobbies into full-time careers. To help them accomplish this, properties need to provide communal workspaces to allow for creativity and remote employees.
How are they different from millennials?
It might be tempting to target millennials and Gen Zers with the same tactics, but there are many differences between the two generations. When you start shifting your focus from marketing to millennials to marketing to Gen Z renters, keep the following generational differences in mind.
They expect more from technology
Gen Zers are true tech natives. Their immersion in technology far eclipses that of millennials, with apps and the internet guiding many Gen Zers’ decisions. Because of this, their expectations of technology are high, so make sure your property supports the fastest internet speeds available in your area. While updating your building’s internet, don’t forget to increase your website’s internet speed and step up your social media game to bring in more Gen Z renters.
They seek stability
While millennials are notorious for renting longer than previous generations, they also crave flexibility and are willing to uproot and move for the right job or a new neighborhood. Gen Zers, on the other hand, want stability. Their practicality makes them less willing to relocate than millennials. Rather than moving to their dream jobs, Gen Zers plan to build them right from their living room. To accommodate this, ensure your units have enough living space for a home-office, even if it simply consists of a desk, chair, and a few shelves.
They’ll take affordability over amenities
Though stainless steel appliances and hardwood floors are still in demand, overall Gen Zers are thriftier than millennials and will make do with older appliances if needed. Since this young generation is focused on their goal of someday owning a home, saving money takes priority over luxury finishes. For this generation, affordable rentals that fit their budget and allow them to save for the future will be a big hit.
What Gen Z Renters Look for in Apartment Communities
This generation is used to personalization. From their newsfeeds to their playlists, their world is designed with their tastes and interests in mind. Take it one step further into individualization and Gen Zers are most connected to brands where they can build their own experiences. Taking a granular approach to understanding these renters will let you do more than just personalize your marketing efforts, but also individualize each tenant experience.
Finances are often front and center for Gen Z. They would rather put money into their businesses and savings accounts to buy a home than into rent payments. Rental prices that allow them to save for the future while not feeling house poor are ideal for Gen Z renters. Long-term leases, ranging from 18 to 24 months, are attractive for these renters who will appreciate the stability. They’ll know what their rent will be over a year from signing and can avoid worrying about their next move.
Gen Z renters crave community. An apartment community that helps them build a creative network is ideal. Consider hosting creative resident events and organizing experiential activities such as movie nights, open mics, and pool parties. If your apartment community boasts large, property-wide communal spaces, spend time promoting them. These events and amenities will help bond your community and attract additional Gen Z renters.
The majority of Gen Zers define success as having made the world a better place, while 88% of Gen Zers invest in companies that share their values. To attract these renters, publicize your apartment community’s involvement in the neighborhood. Have you hosted a pet adoption day recently, or sponsored a charity run? Use social media to get the word out and share your positive impact.
Gen Z is passionate about environmental causes, so investing in green amenities is worth the upfront cost. Whether you’re expanding with new units or looking to upgrade older ones, there are choices you can make to be more sustainable. Upgrading the windows to energy-efficient panes or installing eco-friendly appliances, for example, are a good start.
How to Reach Gen Z Renters
Knowing what Gen Z renters want is one thing, but reaching them is another. This generation is unique, so make sure you reach them through their most popular platforms and channels. As a general rule, stick with online marketing and advertising strategies. Gen Zers spend up to 10 hours per day online, so reaching them where the already spend the majority of their time is crucial.
Social media marketing
Almost 60% of Gen Zers have purchased something they discovered through social media. That’s not to say that they will sign a lease from one Facebook Ad campaign, but partnering with influencers and creating a strong social media presence will prove valuable when appealing to the next generation of renters. Wondering where to start? The platforms Gen Z spends the most time on are YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat, so start engaging with Gen Z on these platforms first.
Online video content
It’s official. Gen Z spends the least amount of time of any generation watching TV and the most amount of time watching online videos. To reach them, consider sharing video tours of properties and short interviews with residents and employees. To keep viewers engaged, make sure the content is concise, digestible, and most importantly, shareable.
For the most entertaining content, provide value and use your storytelling skills. You may not be the next Spielberg, but we’re certain you can tell an engaging story. You can even include a call to action that inspires viewers to share your video with their network.
If you thought that updating your website was crucial to attract millennials, get ready. For Gen Z renters, you’ll want to go the extra mile and make sure that your website is optimized for mobile devices. It’s not enough just to have an attractive functional website. It also has to be accessible on the go, from any device.
How to Appeal to Gen Z Renters
You might have sensed a digital trend by now in this article, so go with it. Bringing resident interactions online in a digital format will be helpful for both Gen Z and millennial renters. Wondering what to make accessible online? Everything – basic communication, rental applications, credit checks, community-wide news (think maintenance announcements), virtual tours – all of these can be managed online. Keep it simple, mobile, and digital.
Curate a stellar online reputation
Yelp is a valuable tool, but it isn’t the be all and end all of review sites. For Gen Z renters, broaden your scope. Use social media to manage your online reputation by immediately responding to bad reviews and sharing positive reviews from happy tenants. To get the most out of your efforts, focus on your property’s unique benefits. Whether you’re establishing your online reputation or rebranding, be sure to share your reputation for top-notch customer satisfaction, a responsive attitude, and quality properties.
Price units fairly
Natural researchers, Gen Zers know where to look for answers (and a good deal). If you’re listing apartments way above their market value, you simply won’t attract this wave of young renters. Their dedication to their future and frugality will win out over luxury appliances. To capitalize on this group and keep your property full, be sure to price your units appropriately.
Suggest personalized offers for their lifestyles
Partnering with local businesses or online retailers will come in handy here. With a short (online) questionnaire, you can find out some basic information about your Gen Z renters. Do they have any pets? Do they regularly go to yoga? Once you know where their interests lie, you can offer discounts and special offers through exclusive partnerships.
What Gen Z Renters Need from Property Managers
Having grown up in a world of “fake news,” Gen Z craves authenticity. They connect with brands they can trust. Once you have a firm grasp on your community’s brand and core values, you can start building an authentic marketing campaign. Sharing residents’ moving stories, educating renters, and building relationships with your community will all help to establish authenticity both in person and online.
Prompt digital communication
With Gen Z renters, the faster you can solve a problem, the better. Allowing them to submit maintenance requests online or purchase renters insurance with just a few clicks is appealing. This fast-moving generation understands the power of technology, so falling behind and failing to streamline tasks could result in missing out on a valuable demographic of renters.
Gen Zers are used to having their questions answered with a quick Google search or a short YouTube video. Try setting up a chatbot on your website that residents can access any time of day. This 24/7 access to an immediate answering system will bode well for attracting and retaining Gen Z renters.
Online rent payment
Paying by check is a multistep process and it takes time. Between writing the check, searching for envelopes, hunting for stamps, and then waiting days (or weeks) for the money to leave your account, the whole process is unnecessarily complex. For a generation that’s used to instant purchases on Amazon or with Apple Pay, you can make their lives (and yours) easier by letting them pay online through your property’s portal. For the love of time, let residents pay rent online!
Quick turnaround times for approval
Waiting to find out whether you are approved for an apartment can be stressful. If you can speed up the process, Gen Zers will appreciate the quick turnaround. Plus, the quicker you say “yes,” the sooner they can move in and start raving about their new home on social media. Double win!
Now that you know exactly who Gen Z renters are and what they want, you can adjust your marketing plan to reach them. So get online, get social, and start reeling in new residents!
Dawn is a Content Marketing Intern at Updater. When she isn’t writing, researching, or creating content, you can find her cooking dinner with friends, exploring new neighborhoods, or plotting her next adventure.