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How to Reach Generation Z at Trade Shows

February 14, 2020

Generation Z; a generation who most of which have grown up knowing nothing but the rise of technology. They’re used to having multiple screens at their fingertips and having access to an abundance of alternatives should one option become boring. While millennials spend a greater amount of time on a desktop per week, the average Gen Z spends more of their time on a smartphone. This generation is also the least likely to spend time watching television. All of these habits are important to take into consideration when marketing to this rising, young generation. But how does a trade show marketer reach a generation that hates being targeted with ads and who aren’t as motivated to make purchases as Generation Y? 

Lumping Generation Z in with millennials when you’re focusing on your target audience likely won’t cut it, simply because of their many differences, regardless of their closeness in age. Here are some ideas to get you started on your trade show marketing plan if a wide majority of your target audience includes Generation Z: 

Find ways to incorporate their phones 

Smartphones are a main priority in Generation Z’s life, from staying informed to staying entertained. This starts with making sure that your website is mobile-friendly, so when you are able to get this generation to browse your site, it’ll be easy for them to use. This is one thing Generation Z expects from technology. If it’s not user-friendly, they might think your business is behind the times and move on to something else. 

This tech-savvy generation loves social media too, so be sure that your before, during, and after-trade show marketing plan incorporates your business’s social media. Don’t forget that social media is also where millennials and Generation Y get a lot of their information as well, so it’s a good idea to always be utilizing your social media to promote your upcoming trade show, regardless of your main target audience. 

Before the show, get them informed of your attendance by boosting posts to those who fit the right target demographics. Be aware though, a majority of Generation Z and even millennials avoid ads. On one hand, this is slightly in your favor because you’ll know that this generation will appreciate the face-to-face, genuine interaction with your brand at your trade shows. On the other hand, it’s still important to inform this generation that you’ll be attending, so be sure that whatever ads you’re pushing, don’t actually scream ‘ad.’ One way to do this is to make your ad post seem like something viewers can benefit from. Offer them an incentive, a tip or a freebie. When they’re scrolling through their social media, it should take them a moment to realize that the post isn’t actually from one of their followers. Include people who look like them in the graphics and they’ll feel more intrigued to want to read your caption and learn more. Your social media posts should also share something exciting about your booth that your audience won’t want to miss out on. 

While you're promoting your participation before your trade show, don’t forget to promote it during your trade show as well. No doubt, the Generation Z’s in your booth will have their phones at their fingertips. Use this to your advantage by finding ways to keep them engaged by allowing them to use their phones. If you’re giving away a prize, make it an additional entry for your audience to share about it on social media. Whether they share one of your social media posts, a photo of their own in your booth, or a post that includes your hashtag, it’s a great way to spread the word about your business online. 

You can even continue engaging Generation Z online after the trade show is over. Ask for their feedback with a survey that enters them to win something from your business. Get their permission during the show to share photos of them experiencing your brand, and they’ll probably share it! 

There are lots of ways to engage Generation Z on their phones before, during and after your trade show. With the average Gen Z being online over 10 hours a day, there’s no better way to reach them than through their phone! 

Focus on products over experiences 

Generation Z actually prefers a cool product over a cool experience. Millennials and other generations on the other hand, would rather immerse themselves in an amazing experience over spending money on a product. But you heard right, Gen Z is more intrigued by the specs of the products you have to offer. 

You may be thinking…’But trade shows are all about experiences.’ And you’re right! However, it’s going to take a little more thought out planning to really entice the average Gen Z at a trade show for this reason.

We know they prefer products over experiences, so what does that mean for your business? What if you're a company whose sole focus is on providing a great experience through your products? You don’t have to change your marketing objective completely, just take into consideration that Gen Z wants to know more about the product itself. Don’t stop sharing about the amazing experience that your products can provide. Instead, focus a little more on what makes this product or service that you offer great in itself. What about it structurally makes it unique? What went into the design that no other company has thought of? These pieces of information will stand out to Generation Z as they’ll be more intrigued by your physical product than other aspects that might be more of a selling point to other generations. So, while your product may offer an experience that you want buyers to know about, leave some room to focus on the product itself for your Gen Z audience. 


Make technology a large part of your exhibit experience 

Generation Z, who accounts for about 40% of consumers in 2020, can’t and shouldn’t be overlooked from a trade show marketing standpoint. Be sure to find ways to engage with them in your exhibit through their love language - technology. 

A booth that allows them to engage with your brand through technology will help them remember you long after the show, because they’ll feel very in their element. Using touch screens and augmented reality will give you a one-up on your competition at the trade shows you attend. Be mindful that Generation Z is used to having technology at their fingertips! Here are some tips on integrating technology into your future exhibit design. 

 As mentioned, it’s important not to overlook the buying power of Generation Z, especially at trade shows. Provide them with options that matter most to them; incorporate phones as an engagement piece in your booth, put a strong focus on your products’ qualities, and use technology as much as possible in your exhibit. It’s important to meet the needs of your target audience. If you need help getting started with a booth design that’s irresistible, reach out to Skyline Greater LA today! 

social media marketing, marketing to gen z, exhibiting with technology, target audience, exhibits, trade shows
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