For the longest time, the most frequent question I was asked was, “How do we reach millennials with marketing?”
Now, the wheels are turning, and the primary goal of many marketers is to reach a new, content-hungry generation of consumers. And the question is: how do we target our marketing to Gen Z?
Gen Z, or “Zoomers,” is a pretty unique group of young adults and teens.
For one, they have never known life without the internet.
For another, they bring tremendous spending power to the table.
Let’s take a look at how we can use available research, surveys, and data to improve our marketing strategies and campaigns in order to resonate with the next biggest generation: Gen Z.
Is Gen Z Hard To Market?
Typically, businesses want to reach the largest audience for the best return, right?
Well, Millennials might be the current largest group of consumers, and Baby Boomers have the most money to spend, but Gen Z’s power is growing.
A recent Bloomberg report shows that these young students and working professionals have $360 billion in disposable income.
This figure is only going to increase.
Marketers are wrestling with the best ways to market to Gen Z so that they can get them to buy, as traditional marketing methods aren’t working.
However, this is proving tricky, as Gen Z gives attention and spends money differently from previous generations.
What Is Generation Z?
Gen Z is the collective of people born between 1997 to 2012. That makes the oldest in this generation in their mid-twenties and the youngest about to become a tween this year.
The next generation after Gen Z is called Generation Alpha.
Zoomers are truly digitally native. They’ve been online since childhood, using the internet, mobile phones, social networks, and even shopping from a young age.
Super comfortable with research and data collection, they have no problem switching from online to offline universes.
They are also the most educated generation yet.
How Is Marketing To Gen Z Different Than Other Generations?
Well, they differ quite a bit, actually.
First, we need to understand what matters most to each generation.
This is often formed by the big events that happened in their formative years.
For example, while status is the most important for Gen Xers (born 1960–79), Millennials (born 1980–94) are all about authentic experiences.
So, what matters most for Generation Z?
According to research from McKinsey, the main driver for this generation is the search for truth.
Once marketers understand that Gen Z is very comfortable searching for information and cross-referencing data sources in their quest for truth, they will understand what content to produce to reach them.
A Few Extra Insights Into Gen Z’ers
Zoomers Are Loyal
That’s right! They are not as fickle and easily swayed as we first thought.
In fact, a report by the IBM Institute for Business Value and the National Retail Federation revealed some interesting trends around Gen Z and brand affinity.
- 59% of respondents say they trust the brands they’ve grown up with.
- 46% of Zoomers cited having “a strong connection or loyalty” to a brand.
- 66% stick to buying from a favorite brand for a long time.
This shows that they want to – and can quite capably – build and keep relationships with the brands they connect with.
For this reason, it is so important for brands to foster their Gen Z customer base.
Zoomers Influence The Whole Family
This is true simply because the majority of Gen Z’ers are not yet fully independent adults and still live with their parents.
However, they do generate an income and influence how the family spends, particularly food and beverages (77%), furniture (76%), household goods (73%), travel (66%), and eating out (63%).
11 Strategies To Market To Gen Z
No matter what generation you are marketing to, you need to understand who your ideal customer is.
You can’t simply say, “We market to Generation Z,” and that is that.
You need to do the work to deeply understand who your target audience is: what their challenges are, what they enjoy doing, what they like, what repulses them, and, more importantly, what they expect of you.
So, this is the first step in marketing to Gen Z: Get to know your audience.
However, that is true for all generations, and not just Gen Z marketing strategies, which is not what this piece is about. We want to explore how brands can reach Gen Z in particular.
The best way to reach them is on social media and to align yourself with their progressive approach to life. Here’s how.
1. Create Channel-Specific Content
By this, I mean there’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to multi-channel marketing.
Marketers often replicate one campaign and burst it across multiple channels.
But there is a better way.
Create content that you share on TikTok with the TikTok audience in mind. The same for LinkedIn, Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, TV, etc.
These audiences are not even remotely the same.
In fact, Generation Z prefers brands that know how to use each social media platform uniquely, just as they do.
- Instagram for aspirational posts.
- Snapchat for everyday moments.
- TikTok for fun and trending challenges.
- Twitter for news.
- LinkedIn for career-focused content.
You need to fit in with the online social community you are posting on if you want your paid or organic content to be a success.
2. Keep It Short
Tailor content that caters to a brief attention span.
Generation Z enjoys platforms like Snapchat, TikTok, and Instagram that favor short videos.
Also, remember to make content that is mobile-optimized.
3. Use Video – A Lot
This point follows from the previous one.
This mobile-first generation devours video on their smartphones.
While this is no secret, it is tremendously effective for reaching this generation that grew up on YouTube and now TikTok.
4. Champion Authenticity
It is of vital importance that your brand tone, voice, and personality exude authenticity and credibility.
Show the people and values behind the brand.
Invest in building long-lasting relationships.
Why? Generation Z prefers brands that are authentic. Also fun.
Use bloopers, behind-the-scenes videos, interviews with staff, and anything that can help foster a human connection.
Consider how most TikTok videos are filmed on personal devices rather than expensive gear or carefully produced videos.
Even if your budget is huge, you still need to keep it real.
5. Be Transparent And Accountable
This is because Zoomers are after the truth, remember?
So, your brand’s credibility is really important to this generation of consumers.
The great news is that if you do make a mistake, they have open arms for you when you take responsibility, are transparent, and are accountable to change.
6. Go To The Influencer
I know you know this.
But I want to suggest a slightly different approach.
Rather than just paying the influencer as a distributor of your goods, position the influencer as the center of a strategy all on its own.
The influencer still holds sway in this generation.
A recent report shows that 24% of Gen-Z women and 16% of men are guided by influencers when it comes to purchasing decisions.
This is done commercially with great success with live-stream shopping, particularly in China.
Influencers are a must-have in your marketing budget. They bring the community you want to reach.
No scripts, just authentic, transparent, and fun.
7. Invite Gen Z To Participate In Your Marketing
Novel, right? Just don’t send your PR team to ask.
As long as it’s genuine, real, and fun, you can ask if they will be interviewed on camera.
You can ask if you can share their tweets or comments about your product.
Get your best Gen-Z customers or Gen-Z employees to reach out to them for this.
Whether good or bad, this kind of transparency creates real and lasting bonds.
8. Get Everyone To Create
Take advantage of platforms like TikTok that encourage content creation, engagement, and interaction.
If you can start a hashtag, a trend, or a challenge, like the Coca-Cola challenge, you get incredible exposure.
Or, join an existing hashtag and ride the wave.
9. Be Fun And Adventurous
Keep it fun.
I know that Zoomers are very in touch with socioeconomic and environmental challenges, but the escape afforded by social platforms means they are drawn to fun content.
Don’t avoid creating content that is adventurous and fun-spirited.
10. Leverage User-Generated Content
Given their quest for truth, I find that user-generated content (UGC) often gets the best results with a Generation Z target audience.
What does this look like in your campaign?
Use pictures of real people and real customers rather than a photoshopped stock image.
Why is this good for business? Well, a recent survey shows that close to 80% of people cite UGC as a reason to buy.
When prompted to pick between a user-generated travel photo vs. stock travel, 70% of Gen Z say they’re most likely to trust a company more when it uses photos of real customers in its advertising.
11. Don’t Abandon Omni-Channel Marketing
Yes, we know that Gen Z loves their phones.
However, they also love brick-and-mortar stores.
In fact, three times as many Gen Z’ers say they shop in a real retail store compared to online.
So, you need to reach Zoomers at all their watering holes: social media, YouTube, email, streaming, etc.
Need more proof?
According to a report from Pitney Bowes and the CMO Council, 88% of Zoomers actually prefer a blend of digital and physical marketing.
The most important takeaway from all of this data is that Generation Z is not some secretive entity. There is a vast amount of data that reveals what they prefer when it comes to marketing and spending.
The best way to reach them is to use platforms and tools wisely, with thought, and with clear intent
Regardless of how you do it, you need to consider your strategy for marketing to Gen Z consumers.
Their number, influence, and spending power is growing by the day.
Members of Generation Z are loyal and want to build relationships with authentic brands that stand for something.
Here’s to successfully marketing to Gen Z when you make use of the insights that are readily available to you to guide your strategies.
Featured Image: Nadia Snopek/Shutterstock