marketing to gen z

Marketing to Gen Z: what you need to know

The economic power of Generation Z, researchers at Morgan Stanley noting their birth years from 1997–2012, is on the rise. They represent a staggering $360 billion in disposable income, and they’re about to become the highest-paid generation in history.

Despite their purchasing capabilities, this next generation of spenders has fundamental differences that make them a challenge to traditional marketers. Understanding Gen Z, along with their unique online behaviour and brand expectations, is fundamental to future brand growth.

What sets Gen Z consumers apart?

Unlike Millennials, Generation Z (Zoomers) was born with access to advanced digital technology. They’re the first generation to have 24/7 internet and social media access, and they build their connections from online experiences.

Gen Z saves more money than previous generations, relies less on traditional sources of credit and is very entrepreneurial-minded. As consumers, they prefer being part of a brand experience and don’t want to feel like just another customer.

Gen Z marketing strategy

Generation Z customers grew up with access to every type of marketing content you can imagine. It takes something special to grab their attention.

They prefer creative, eye-catching original content that’s short enough to consume rapidly. As the most diverse generation in history, they want content to be tailored specifically to them. In fact, the younger generation spends hours, consciously or not, tailoring algorithms on social channels to align with their preferences. Nearly two-thirds (64%) use social media several times daily, with video and audio media dominating their usage.

The digital ecosystem is perceived as a seamless spectrum of experiences that all blend into each other for entertainment, commerce, and communication. When it comes to marketing, you may need to reimagine your strategy.

Below are some top tips to capture the attention of Gen Z.

Talk about your values

Generation Z wants to support brands that share the same beliefs and values as them. They’re extremely concerned with societal issues such as LGBTQ+ rights and the Black Lives Matter movement. They value activism over passivism and make purchasing decisions based on social responsibility and corporate ethics.

Here are the issues that are important to Gen Z:

  • The environment
  • Mental health advocacy
  • Racial equality
  • LGBTQ+ rights
  • Gender equality

Gen Z is more likely to engage with brands that take an active role in addressing social and environmental issues. However, it’s important to be as authentic as possible, and stay clear of woke-washing.

Avoid woke-washing

Authenticity is key when marketing to Gen Z. They’re tech-savvy consumers, and they can tell when ethically problematic brands are appropriating progressive values to make a profit. 40% of Generation Z are likely to boycott brands that don’t appear to align with their values.

Woke washing and greenwashing will always be interpreted as a deliberate deception by Zoomers. They’ll react negatively towards any brand they suspect of doing this. Despite the obvious hypocrisy, many brands have attempted to leverage social issues to sell their products.

The most recent example is Brewdog’s World Cup ‘anti-sponsor’ stunt which has received a severe backlash. The brewery has cited the ‘corruption, abuse and deaths‘ linked to the host nation Qatar. James Watt, CEO of Brewdog, also claimed that Qatar is the host due to bribing FIFA officials. The backlash came about as it was revealed Brewdog will be showing the World Cup games in their pubs and selling their beer in locations throughout Qatar. Watts has also been accused of trying to intimidate former staff and inappropriate behaviour and abuse of power in the workplace.

Make interactive content

Entertaining, eye-catching, relevant content is quickly outpacing other mediums when it comes to grabbing the attention of Generation Z. They want to feel connected to a brand, which is why they tend to prefer personalised experiences.

Marketing trends suggest interactive content is the perfect way to reach a Gen Z audience. They value content that helps them experience a brand. This is why content such as quizzes, augmented reality and polls encourage their engagement.

JD sports applied this principle to an ad campaign involving AR technology. They partnered with Nike to launch Nike Air VaporMax and asked TikTokers to try on new Nike shoes using augmented reality. They were the first retailer to launch this style of campaign on TikTok.

Use influencer marketing

One of the most effective Gen Z marketing strategies is to use influencers. A large majority of Gen Z suspect major brands to be untrustworthy, which is why influencers are popular, in fact, central to Gen Z social media. Gen z marketing campaigns that involve smaller influencers provide an authentic, independent opinion that they can trust.

IBM Watson is an Artificial Intelligence (AI) platform by IBM to help companies across industries create intelligent workflows. They partnered with Gaurav Gupta, a fashion designer, to create a sari lined with LED lights that changed colour through AI activity. It was programmed to change colour with the winners of Vogue Women of the Year Awards. It was an innovative way to demonstrate how to use their tech.

Create videos

Young people consume content differently than other generations. Gen Z avoids the polished, curated aesthetics favoured by the Millennial generation, instead opting for authentic and unfiltered content.

They prefer video content, choosing to watch Reels, Stories and TikTok videos over anything else. However, they’re unforgiving of content that isn’t attention-grabbing straight away. UnlikeMmillennials, who have a 12-second attention span for online content, Gen Z’s attention span is approximately 8 seconds.

Make user-generated content

Gen Z is more likely to base its purchase decisions on the testimonials of real customers. Taking into account their preference for video content, a user-generated content strategy is a marketing no-brainer.

Buffer is a great example of how to use B2B user-generated content. It has a strong community and the company actively engages with the people who interact with them or mention them. Buffer will repost great community content too.

Choose the right social media platform

Social media usage is seen as a gateway to knowledge and a tool for empowerment and activism. Over 78% of Gen Z say they research brands before they make a purchase. Zoomers prefer bite-sized content and short-form videos that have overlays, music and visual effects.

TikTok, Instagram, YouTube and Snapchat are the best platforms to reach Generation Z. In fact, TikTok has recently surpassed Google as the top search engine.

Vilpe Global is a Finnish construction company that provides building and roofing solutions to improve homes’ air quality. It has found its niche on TikTok, with 80,000 followers to date. Their secret is education about their products and the people who work hard behind the scenes.

Avoid the hard sell

Traditional marketing methods don’t work with Generation Z. They’re digital natives who have been bombarded with ads from a young age. They can instantly tell when they’re being sold something. In fact, 99% of them admit to skipping ads frequently. Instead, Gen Z wants to be part of an authentic, personalised experience built around relatable people.

Are you worried about how your business can appeal to Gen Z in 2023? Contact us for a free, bespoke consultation [email protected].