Gen Z is realistic, creative and hyper-connected. This generation has never lived a day without mobile phones, social networking or online video—starting with their Gen X parents who captured everything from their births to first steps to first high school dances. This generation was born digital natives.
And they are worth your time.
Who is Generation Z?
Gen Z, born between 1997 and 2012, is bold, tech-savvy and socially-minded. They have different communication and media consumption values than previous generations but are a valuable generation to take note of.
Gen Z is progressive, more racially and ethnically diverse than generations before them, and on track to be the best-educated generation. They avoid labels, are more inclusive and take their time to evaluate all options before committing to a purchase.
Understanding the traits and values of all generations within your target market is essential to developing messaging and content that provides value to your consumers and engages them — when they want to be engaged and where they want to be engaged. Below is a chart that identifies each generation. Think about what this means for your organization’s outreach. How many generations are truly within your target market? Depending on your answer, your current marketing strategies may need a refresh.
The buying power of Generation Z
With an estimated buying power of $140 billion, brands continue to fight for Gen Z’s attention. This generation also has the most control in the messages they see (or don’t see) online. As digital natives, Gen Z knows exactly how to train social media algorithms — this generation will purposely like, comment on or quickly unfollow content they do or do not want in their newsfeeds. They know precisely how to get to the online content they want (and how to get rid of the content they don’t want). This is an important trait to note about Gen Z’s media consumption habits and strategies. So, while their buying power continues to grow, the challenge remains — how will you create engaging messaging that is top-of-mind and in front of Gen Z in order to tap into that buying power?
6 tips for how to market to Gen Z
1. Be genuine
Much like their Gen X parents, Gen Z is hip to insincere brands and their trust can be difficult to earn. For this generation, the larger the brand, the larger the trust gap. Keeping Gen Z’s trust and loyalty is something brands will need to continue to work at. Develop messaging that is genuine. Showcase the great things you are doing but don’t sugarcoat. Keep authenticity at the forefront of your marketing.
2. Use the channels they use
Half of Gen Z gets its news from social media. If this is a generation you need to sustain your business and you are not active on social media, you are missing the mark. Furthermore, the top channels of choice for Gen Z is Instagram and YouTube (by 81%). Educate your teams on new social media channels, content strategies for those channels and a plan to use them as a way to engage with Gen Z. This generation is also looking for trusted relationships. So, you may not think that an 18-year-old Gen Z consumer is your target audience today, but if you hope to have that individual make a purchase from you 5 years down the road, you will want a plan to engage with them ahead of time — not just at the point of sale. Set your social media channels up for success to engage with all generations throughout the various stages of their buyer journeys.
3. Be succinct and use their vernacular
Everyone’s attention span is short these days, Gen Z included. They live with their devices on them at all times and have some of the best filtering strategies out there. Messaging should be short, succinct and in the language they relate to and understand. Now, there is a fine line between using lingo that Gen Z prefers and being the weird older relative that tries to be “hip” with Gen Z phrasing. Our advice? Learn how they talk and what their phrasing means (e.g., CEO may not be the same in your world as theirs). Here’s a great list to start with of Gen Z slang (again, proceed with caution when it comes to stuffing all these words into your content. Remember, you still need to be authentic).
4. Create interactive, engaging content
Be bold. Be weird. Be creative. This generation is looking for content that entertains and engages them. Make them stop scrolling and watch your Reel, TikTok or Instagram Live. Gen Z also values the opinion of their peers making influencer marketing a very powerful tool. Encourage interaction and conversation on social media; this generation is also apt to share the things they like with their extensive networks and followers which is powerful for brands who interact with Gen Z in a fun, engaging way.
5. Be relatable
Gen Z is not looking for a faceless company. They want relatable brands — to find products that embody their beliefs and reflect their independence. Showcase your brand’s personality and stop focusing on unrealistic messaging that projects perfection. A great example? Parade. This brand has a positive body image focus, are vocal advocates for LGBTQ+ communities and values self-expression.
6. Showcase values
Speaking of values, Gen Z wants to know what your brand stands for. Neutral sentiments no longer apply. Gen Z values brands that take a stand on societal justice issues. This generation also values making a difference in this world. Not only do they want to make an impact, they want to see others make an impact as well. Be up front about your values on your website and your digital channels. Join conversations around social justice. Engage in storytelling and content that is diverse both in who you are as a brand (products, services, values) and what you stand for within the community you serve. This generation has also been called “True Z” for their ability to find sources of truth and fact-check. Don’t try and pull one over on them.
Gen Z. They are our changemakers. Our future managers and decision-makers. They are a generation focused on equality and making a difference in the world. Plan to engage with them early so they remain a part of your consumer base for the long-haul.
Need help? We’ve got your back. Let’s talk about your messaging needs for the future. We’re here to create brand marketing strategies that span all generations, Gen Z included.