6 Effective Strategies for Marketing to Gen Z

Tricia Abney
Published: Jul 01, 2020
Last Updated:
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Now that your brand has put in the effort to figure out how to market to millennials, it’s time to start reaching out to the next generation — Gen Z.

Defined as the group born between 1996 and 2014, this is the first generation that has had lifelong and ready access to the internet. But that doesn't mean they’ll be easier to reach than millennials or Gen X. However, brands should still make the effort because Gen Z comes to the table with significant buying power.

As of 2018, Generation Z accounted for over 27% of the U.S. population, the largest percentage of any group. These young people are a mix of teens and young adults who are either in college or who have just graduated. This is a key point for businesses because it means that this generation is entering the workforce and will have an increase in their buying power.

Fast Company predicted that Gen Z would account for 40% of all consumer markets by 2020. What’s more, even though this group has a reported $44 billion in buying power, Google indicates that their real spending power is closer to $200 billion. In other words, pay close attention to Gen Z.

How to Market to Gen Z — 6 Winning Strategies

So, you know that Gen Z is important to your business, but how do you reach them? Marketing to young consumers has always been tricky. If you want to be successful with marketing to Generation Z, consider the following approaches:

1. Be Authentic

Not much gets past this demographic. You aren’t going to be too successful with sales-y gimmicks, overly eager retargeting, or thinly-veiled branded content. The best-performing marketing strategies for this group are ones that are open, honest, and to the point.

One commonly quoted survey by the firm Altitude found that members of Gen Z have a shockingly short attention span — just eight seconds. The truth is that they’ve really just developed a strong filter that allows them to get past unrealistic and inauthentic content.

You’ll need to create quick and effective content to market to Gen Z. Some examples are Instagram Stories and Snapchat Stories that allow you to share ideas, whether it's an image or video, that will remain on your profile for 24 hours.

2. Sell Experiences

Because they’ve grown up with the internet and its ads, members of Gen Z aren’t impacted by most traditional marketing campaigns. You won’t sway them with messages about how your product or service is “the best;” they want to know how it’s going to benefit them.

Many consumers now value experiences over products and services. One Harris Group study found that 72% of millennials prefer to spend money on experiences than on material items. You can bet that Gen Z has similar values.

Consider the popular action camera GoPro. The company fills its Instagram page with videos of amazing experiences taken around the world, showing its 17.1 million followers the benefits of its product without saying a word about it.

3. Leverage Micro-Influencers

A few years ago, brands began pouring money into social media influencer campaigns. On Instagram alone, there were more than 14.5 million sponsored posts in 2018 and over $1.7 billion spent on influencer marketing in 2019.

But celebrity influencers like Ariana Grande and Cristiano Ronaldo are expensive, and the effectiveness of some of these campaigns on young consumers is questionable. According to research by Takumi, 72% of consumers would “unfollow” someone over a disingenuous endorsement.

Brands can get better results — and a higher ROI —  by opting for micro-influencers instead. These are non-celebrities who have social media followings ranging from 1,000 to 100,000. Statistics show that micro-influencers drive over 22% more conversions and 60% higher engagement than their influencer counterparts.

4. Connect With Users

Most consumers today expect a higher level of engagement with brands, but this is particularly the case with Gen Z. Research suggests that one of the things that makes social media so attractive to younger audiences is its combination of interactivity and creativity.

When this group lands on your content, you can keep their attention by giving them something to engage with. Click. Swipe. Tap. Pose questions via a poll. Show them a short video. Post infographics with your content.

Reviews are vitally important for building trust in your brand and improving the customer experience. They also provide an effective way to connect with consumers. 76% of Gen Z members surveyed indicate that they want brands to respond to online feedback, good or bad.

5. Have a Purpose

One of the most important things a brand can do to reach Gen Z is to stand for something. A vast majority of today’s young consumers want the companies that they support to be socially and environmentally responsible.

Millennials loved TOMS shoes because the company stands for a great cause. It’s not much different with Gen Z.

From raising awareness of social issues to championing diversity, more brands are choosing to wear their values and beliefs on their sleeves, and this helps them reach younger consumers.

According to McKinsey, 70% of Gen Z consumers prefer to buy from ethical brands, and 65% will research the origins of the products they buy.


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6. Optimize for Mobile

Even though Generation Z are digital natives and comfortable using a variety of devices, they are mobile first. Popsugar reports that Gen Z members are twice as likely as millennials to shop on mobile devices.

According to a study by ContentSquare, Gen Z views 62% more pages than other generations and bounces 51% less, meaning they’re more likely to engage with content.

However, Gen Z doesn’t do all of its shopping online. According to a study by IBM, 98% of young consumers still shop in physical stores. Brands can deliver digitally connected experiences through mobile devices that include mobile payment options and interactive product displays.

The Takeaway

Marketing to Gen Z will be different in a lot of ways from marketing to other generations. Reaching this group will require hard work and a commitment to authenticity. The brands that are willing to devote the time to understand their customers and engage with them will be handsomely rewarded with new and repeat business.

Since some in this demographic are still in their teens, the preferences and purchasing patterns of this group will continue to evolve. Brands that are nimble and ready to adjust will remain competitive and relevant.

Reaching Gen Z consumers isn’t easy, but their willingness to engage makes it more than worth the effort. In the end, this new generation is similar to many others in that they want to build strong relationships with companies that bring value to their lives — you just need to engage them first.

This article was written by Compose.ly writer Tricia Abney.


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