CHANGING YOUR GAME TO ATTRACT RAVING GEN Z FANS
Understanding the “newest” generation
By F. Scott Addis, CPCU, CRA, ACRA, TRA, ASA
Major League Baseball (MLB) recognized that its fan base—including Generation Z—is demanding a more engaging, fast-paced experience. For that reason, the 2023 version of baseball will look dramatically different. Bigger bases, a pitch clock, limited pick-off attempts, and the elimination of defensive shifts. What is going on? Why so many rule changes?
Despite Major League Baseball’s efforts to speed up the pace of games, the average time of a nine-inning game has increased to an all-time high of 3 hours and 6 minutes as compared to 1 hour and 50 minutes in the early 1900s. Runs per game are sitting at 4.34 with batting averages at the lowest point since the mound was lowered in 1969. The average attendance has dropped 5.9% since the 2019 season. Both the owners’ and players’ unions have listened to the fan base, studied the data, and devised a plan to increase the pace and excitement of the game. Let’s take a closer look:
Larger bases. In the new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), the size of first, second, and third bases will increase from 15 inches squared to 18 inches. The size of home plate will remain the same. Why? Player safety. With slightly shorter base paths, players will not be able to reach full speed, and therefore slides and collisions will not occur at the rates of speed previously seen. A secondary consideration is that the number of stolen bases has decreased steadily over the years. It goes without saying that the players and owners know that fans love to watch stolen base attempts.
Pitch clock. The players union and owners know that fans are demanding quicker pace of play. For that reason, BR Bullpen states, there will be a 15-second timer with bases empty and a 20-second timer with runners on base. The pitcher must begin his motion to deliver the pitch before the expiration of the pitch timer. Pitchers who violate the timer will be charged with an automatic ball. MLB projects that this rule will reduce the average time of an MLB game by about 26 minutes. It is also interesting to note that there will be a 30-second timer between batters. Batters who violate the timer will be charged with an automatic strike.
Limited pick-off attempts. A pitcher will only be able to step off the mound for a pick-off or for any other reason a maximum of twice per plate appearance. This MLB limit resets if the runner advances via steal, wild pitch, or passed ball. A pitcher can attempt a third pick-off but if it does not result in an out, it is an automatic balk.
Defensive shift rule. According to The Athletic, the new rule states that a team must have two fielders stationed completely on either side of second base when a pitch is thrown. A team must also have a minimum of four players with their feet on the outer boundary of the infield dirt. The defensive shift has become commonplace in MLB. It is based on analytics and typically involves moving the third baseman to his left where the shortstop plays; the shortstop plays to the right of second base; with the second baseman in shallow right field. Jayson Stark, writer for The Philadelphia Inquirer, calculated that there were nine times as many shifts in 2022 as compared to 2013. He projects that 4,802 hits were taken away by this shift in 2021 alone.
Mound visits. Limited to 30 seconds from the time the manager or pitching coach leaves the dugout.
In a January 12, 2022 article, The New York Times reported that only 23% of Gen Zers said that they were passionate sports fans compared to 42% of millennials. Chris Marinak, MLB’s chief operations and strategy officer, states, “There is no denying that there is more competition for entertainment, connectivity, and mindshare. It is a complicated ecosystem where, probably more than any other time in history, people across generations are consuming very differently. We need to do a better job of communicating to Gen Z what it means to be a fan.”
[It] will be wise to understand the characteristics, mindset, attitudes, and buying behaviors of Generation Z.
Takeaways from MLB
Like Major League Baseball, it is critical that you understand the characteristics, behaviors, and buying motivations of each generation. In the perfect world, all of your customers are passionate, engaged, loyal, and want to do more business with you. And they cannot wait to refer you. But what if there is a mind shift? What if a portion of your customer base views your business model and brand as outdated and stale? What if they lose trust in your game?
A January 2022 study published by Agentero looks at the trust factor and breaks down findings by generation. “Trust is an important element in consumers’ decisions to use advisors, now and in the future,” the report states, “but there are big generational differences. Young consumers are skeptical that intermediaries have their best interests at heart. … Gen Zs are more likely to question intermediaries’ motives and older consumers are more likely to trust the professionals.” When asked if they always or usually trust their insurance agents, 79% of baby boomers, 67% of Gen Xers, and 74% of millennials responded in the affirmative. However, only half of Gen Z respondents said they do.
You may not view this statistic as a concern as it is the generation that was born in the late 1990s and early 2010s. Right? Wrong. By 2025, 27% of the workforce and one-third of the Earth’s population will be Gen Z. Like Major League Baseball, the time has come to actively listen, study data, design a plan, and change your game to attract younger customers.
Data and characteristics about Gen Zers
CuriousOwl, a blog for learning concepts of digital marketing and data analytics, and Morning Consult, a decision intelligence provider, shared the following data and characteristics about Gen Zers in late 2022:
- It is a tech-savvy and highly visual generation. Gen Z embraces YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, and Snapchat. They believe that Facebook is mostly used by their parents’ generation.
- They are entrepreneurs; 72% of them aspire to have their own business.
- They are a demanding generation of consumers with an expectation of personalized brands that connect on a human level.
- Gen Zers are always looking for something new. They want to keep up with the latest trends.
- Their purchasing decisions are heavily influenced by social media.
- They are impulsive shoppers and keenly attracted to purchasing/customer experiences. More than 50% of them will post their experiences online.
- They are price sensitive; 72% of Gen Zers say that they always compare prices before purchasing.
- Their peers influence them; 84% say that their friends significantly impact the brands they purchase.
- Gen Zers are likely to be loyal to sustainable and environmentally friendly brands.
- The Shelf, an influencer marketing agency, adds the following characteristics:
- Gen Zers value privacy, as evidenced by the fact that they take extra measures to safeguard their personal information.
- They carefully analyze a brand’s mission, product quality, and service before committing.
- They are in search of authenticity.
Attention span is of importance. While millennials’ 12-second attention span is short, Gen Zers’ eight seconds is astounding.
Generation Z puts their trust and loyalty in brands that demonstrate social responsibility. What you are concerned about matters to them.
Attracting Gen Z fans
Much like Major League Baseball, you will be wise to understand the characteristics, mindset, attitudes, and buying behaviors of Generation Z. Consider the following five action steps:
- Step one. Take the time to understand the characteristics, mindset, attitudes, and buying behaviors of Generation Z. Realize that Gen Zers carry the weight of the world on their shoulders. They continue to experience terrorism, mass shootings, political tension escalating to war, inflation, climate change, pandemic issues, and more. Use your emotional intelligence to its fullest. Your capacity to recognize the feelings of Gen Zers will deepen relationships and establish trust.
- Step two. How socially aware is your brand? Gen Zers are attracted to a brand mission … one that supports social causes, ethics, and corporate responsibility. Consider shaping Generation Z’s perception of you and your firm. Ask questions such as, “What does our brand stand for? Does our brand reflect what matters most to Generation Z?”
- Step three. As Gen Zers are experience seekers, re-evaluate your value proposition, marketing materials, and customer experience journey. Create a personalized experience by integrating technology, visualization, and storytelling. Gen Zers are attracted to short and snappy videos that include humor.
- Step four. Is attracting top talent a key priority? If so, analyze your corporate culture. Gen Zers are searching for values, visions, behaviors, and strategic priorities with which they are aligned.
- Step five. Embrace and advance technology. Gen Zers are the most tech-savvy generation. They live with mobile devices and social media, and it shows in their daily habits. To a large degree, your success in attracting Gen Zers hinges on your tech-savvy brand, online presence, and support for remote working.
Your major league mindset in attracting Generation Z fans will take your game to the next level!
Scott Addis is CEO of Beyond Insurance and an industry leader. His agency was recognized by Rough Notes magazine as a Marketing Agency of the Month, he was a Philadelphia finalist for Inc. magazine’s “Entrepreneur of the Year” award, and was selected as one of the “25 Most Innovative Agents in America.”
Beyond Insurance is a consulting firm that offers leadership training, cultural transformation, and talent and tactical development for enlightened professionals who are looking to take their organization to the next level. Since 2007, the proven and repeatable processes of Beyond Insurance have transformed agencies as measured by enhanced organic growth, productivity, profitability, and value in the marketplace.
To learn more about Beyond Insurance, email email@example.com.