10 Ways to Get Gen Z to Attend Your Next Event IRL

Balancing tech and sustainability

Generation Z has been tech enabled and connected from birth. They are watching YouTube instead of cartoons, have been checking Facebook since middle school, and will use Snapchat any chance they get. But here’s the catch. They value IRL (in real life) experiences just as much, and see little conflict between digital and real world experiences. In fact, they want to connect around unique events IRL.

“They are true digital natives, the first to grow up online, connected to vast amounts of timely, global information and instantly socially connected,” notes a recent Gen Z study by Ernst & Young. “They have never known a world where they couldn’t instantly connect and look up the answer to any question that crossed their mind.”

And understanding that is key to knowing how to get them psyched to attend live events. For instance, the Boy Scouts of America’s 2017 National Jamboree, the quadrennial event that will bring together more than 50,000 participants and visitors for 10 days of action and adventure, will be the most connected ever. Brands that are part of the experience will be taking advantage of the live adrenaline rush and how attendees will amplify it digitally and socially.

Here are 10 tips for getting Gen Z to attend events, IRL:

1. Engage online and off…genuinely

Promote social sharing and getting the message out on a grassroots level. Hashtags, geofilters, lenses or other social media strategies are a valuable way to raise awareness in advance, but they have to seem genuine. There is nothing worse than a cheesy hashtag. These kids see right through obvious marketing ploys instantly—after all, they’ve been on the receiving end of it their whole lives. This speaks to Gen Z’s desire for authentic growth while promoting their own brand—and yours.

2. Be wired

The Wi-Fi at the venue had better be top notch—and free—because Gen Z demands the ability to share their real life experience over social. Nobody—least of all their parents—wants them to have to resort to pricey mobile data. Make sure that they know in advance that they will have fast and reliable Wi-Fi and plenty of charging stations.

3. Go green

Gen Z wants to be green and low impact. They’re just as much recycling natives as they are digital natives. Highlight the many easy steps that your venue is taking to reduce waste and embrace sustainability. Stress existing recycling policies and promote awareness of the environment. Low impact, sustainable events are a great way to increase excitement and enthusiasm and make the participants feel good about their choice to attend. That’s why The Summit, home of the BSA’s National Jamboree, puts sustainability front and center.

4. The right partners are everything 

Generation Z cares about merit, not big names. They’re more likely to be following YouTube and social media influencers than movie or music stars. Find influencers with engaged followings—relatable people who they look up to for their talent. Make it easy for them to help spread the message of the event on social platforms. Anything they share will mean more than any celebrity endorsement and will build organic excitement.

5. Get physical

There’s a reason that Gen Zers are so excited about virtual reality and interactive experience. They want to integrate their physical and digital activity. One way to do this is to create activities that they will want to document—and share with their friends. This could be something that takes bravery or courage—like the rope courses and ziplines at the National Jamboree—or something that plays into their desire for shared experience, like a mass yoga session or a group hike.

6. Emphasize values and the greater good

This generation cares about shared values, whether it’s their own or those of their brands. Promote positive, inspirational messages that they can rally around. Embrace a greater sense of purpose. They like having an active role. Give them titles like brand ambassadors or advocates—they will feel involved in the mission while promoting and sharing the message.

7. Allow for discovery

Don’t just hand things to them. Multiple areas and dedicated free time allow Gen Z members to discover their own interests. This promotes a sense of individuality and freedom while providing a setting for an organic participant-to-brand engagement—which will be more valuable to both you and your partner or sponsors.

8. Make it snappy

Remember, Gen Z is used to constant stimulation. Cater to their myriad of interests and shorter attention spans. According to Bloomberg View, this generation has an 8 second attention span—down from 12 seconds in 2000. Take advantage of this and wow them with sheer numbers. Give them lots of variety and a range of physical activity.

9. Think natural

Gen Z doesn’t want processed foods, GMOs or other unnatural food sources. They are willing to pay more for pure food and beverages, and they are very aware of ingredients. They like making things themselves rather than getting things passively handed to them. Let them customize it: Things as simple as DIY trail mix transform a snack into an activity.

10. Include it all

It should be easy and egalitarian. They don’t want different packages and different price points—give them as few choices as possible when it comes to pricing, and make them feel like they are all getting the best experience possible. Add-ons at the event, such as food for purchase, are generally fine but make sure their tickets include everything they will need to think about in advance.

With more than 100 years of experience reaching and positively influencing youth, the Boy Scouts of America is an expert in Gen Z (and Millennial) behavior. Scouting Works offers meaningful, forward-thinking ways for brands to connect with youth and families.