Steve Shiels, Head of Sales and Marketing
Who are Generation Z?
People born between 1995-2015 are known as Generation Z. They are the first generation who have only known an online world, and their outlook is very different to those that came before them. It means that the value they perceive from professional bodies is changing and if your organisation isn’t considering strategies to target this group of people you need to act now. The first individuals who are identified as Generation Z may have been in the world of work for 4-9 years and the number of ‘Gen Zers’ in the employment market will continue to grow each year. It is predicted that this will bring a huge challenge to the membership sector in the future
Research indicates that the problem is already here, and that Generation Z are not perceiving value from membership propositions, despite the huge improvements in membership engagement in the marketplace in recent years. Whilst strategies being undertaken to enhance membership acquisition are seemingly having a positive effect (on average Protech’s clients have seen 17% of all members having joined membership organisations within the last two years), digging deeper into the numbers shows a worrying pattern. Only 28% of these new members are 30 and under and that drops to just 12% when considering Gen Z alone (all members under the age of 25). If that trend continues, then it suggests that in the coming years the membership acquisition stats will not look so positive!
What matters to Generation Z?
The facts suggest that marketing strategy will play a key role in the overall organisation strategy, with a specific focus on understanding what the generation is looking for within their membership scheme and offering it to them in a place or form that is relevant to them. In order to do that, we must first look at what matters to ‘generation Z’.
Generation Z are very different to previous generations and the sector is going to have to work hard to attract and engage with members of the future. It’s not all bad news though – as research suggests that the generation are more likely to be involved in activism, and working for success, which does present opportunities for membership organisations to get closer to these people by reviewing their membership scheme to reflect what matters to them
To further evidence this, Protech has recently conducted customer research into a large membership organisation and the negative perceptions of that organisations member acquisition and engagement policies reflected the needs of Generation Z. The research showed a consensus that the organisation is not actively ‘where the younger generation hang out’ and this is something that professional bodies need to resolve into order to tap into that activism and work rate.
One possible suggestion to this problem could be a greater utilisation of volunteer networks and special interest groups. This corner of the professional body world is quite often put under immense strain to provide those services, and the cost, time and infrastructure to support such groups can be an issue. In the future technologies deployed by the sector to relieve that burden.
Future trend – The Challenge of Interacting with Generation Z
One of the other trends we expect to see in relation to the challenge is a change in how organisations in the sector interact with the age group. Research suggests that frequent micro interactions are a key way of interacting with generation Z, Gamification and the ability to share experiences are also important. Junpier research (2017) forecasts that Chatbots will redefine interactions in coming years. This suggests a departure from of the traditional methods of engagement that have dominated the sector in the last ten years is required in order to keep the younger generation engaged.
Finally, the generation value likeminded people and organisations that match their belief systems, and organisations in the sector will have to evolve to ensure that they are engaging with the advocates of tomorrow much earlier in the professional career. This should include greater emphasis enhancing brand identity and awareness and ensuring that the younger generation can identify with like-minded people and be provided products and services that serve to support them throughout their career.
An excellent online experience is now not desired but expected, membership organisations need to go further to firstly attract and retain their new generation of members in order to generate long term future revenue.
Protech will be presenting at Digital Excellence 2019 around how membership organisations can engage deeper with Generation Z – find out more
Protech has been providing software for professional membership bodies almost 25 years. Today, some of the country’s most respected organisations rely on the company’s ProConnect™ software to engage, communicate and transact with more than 2.5 million members and learners.
The powerful CRM functionality at the heart of ProConnect effortlessly manages qualifications and membership tasks. It ships with a fully featured CMS making it the perfect tool to construct websites and user portals. ProConnect can also manage events, and operate job boards, forums and blogs. These features allow Protech’s clients to increase the acquisition and retention of members, maximise engagement and enhance member value.