Marketing has never been the same across multiple generations. What clicks for one generation might absolutely fail for another. And when it comes to Gen Z Marketing, things are totally different here!
It’s a generation that was born with advertising being bombarded around them from Day 1. So they have become so immune to the marketing and advertising efforts that it’s almost impossible to push sales.
In this blog, I’ll walk you through multiple aspects of Gen Z marketing, why it matters, how marketing to Gen Z is different, and what you can do to engage Gen Z more. But before we begin, let me be very clear.
There is no perfect recipe for Gen Z Marketing or for advertising to Gen Z or any generation, for that matter. So take these guidelines as just guidelines and optimize on the go!
So, let’s begin.
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What is Generation Z?
There is no fixed definition of what Generation Z is. But it’s widely believed that anyone born between the late ’90s and 2010 falls into this group. They are a group of individuals who grew up with cell phones and then smartphones around them.
In short, they are the first generation of digital natives. Their life choices, thought process, and decision-making are significantly influenced by the Internet and non-traditional media.
What sets them apart from millennials and other generations is they strongly believe in unique personal identity and ethnic diversity. The hallmark of Gen Z? They are fiercely independent, want to become self-reliant, and do not hesitate to make their dissatisfaction known.
This is a critical aspect that every brand dealing with Gen Z should understand very seriously. But Why? Why does Gen Z Marketing matter? Let’s understand with some numbers and stats.
Why Gen Z Marketing Matters?
Well, this generation is in their 20s; they are rapidly becoming self-reliant and already are big spenders. They constitute a staggering 26% of the global population. They are hyperactive on smartphones and spend at least 4 hours a day on it.
Even before the pandemic, they were spending around $143 Billion on purchases. With the rise in easy payment options, online payments, and easy credit, this number is all set to grow significantly over a decade.
But beyond numbers, Gen Z Marketing is vital for a brand to stay relevant. A staggering 97% of Gen Z Boomers in the United States use Social Media to learn about a product before buying it. These numbers are absolutely bonkers! Imagine you are a skin-care brand but not active on social media.
Can you even comprehend how big of a chunk you would miss out if you don’t market on social media dedicatedly? In short, Gen Z Marketing is critical and must not be overlooked under any circumstances.
How is Gen Z Marketing different?
As I already mentioned, each generation thinks differently and acts differently. The same is the case with Gen Z and hence Gen Z Marketing is unique too. They are intrigued by different forms of content compared to millennials.
So the methods you have to adopt for marketing to Gen Z will be different when compared to how to market to millennials. Their channel preferences, too, are quite different from others. So, it becomes important for the brands to optimize accordingly if they want to connect with these individuals.
Let’s take a deep dive into what matters to this generation and how it’s different from others.
- Focus on Hyper-Personalization: Gen Z was born in the age of advertising. Whether it’s celebrities promoting a brand, brands using UGC (user-generated Content), or brands relying on influencers, Gen Z has seen it all. So, they have become somewhat immune to “carpet bombing” style advertising. So, the key here is Personalization. In fact, 87% of Gen Z agree that they prefer personalized ads over generic ads. So, make Personalization a key to your Gen Z Marketing strategy.
- More Focus on Brand Reputation than Quality Product: This is a very peculiar thing about Gen Z. They seem to prioritize Brand Reputation over Product Quality. By this, I don’t mean at all that you should not focus on your quality or compromise with it. I am just saying quality is a secondary concern for them. Brand Reputation is everything. But what exactly do I mean by Brand Reputation? Well, it’s a way your consumers, peers, and key players view your brand. It’s critical to have a good brand reputation, especially amongst Gen Z, if you want to gain their trust. With more trust comes more customers and hence Gen Z Marketing should include more focus on Brand Reputation.
- Inclusivity above all: As this generation has access to massive amounts of information in the form of data, they know exactly what’s wrong with this world. They understand the discrimination and don’t back down in the fight against it. For them, brands that are inclusive in every form, whether it’s gender, race, or anything else, are always a top choice. That’s why all Gen Z Brands pay attention to inclusivity while crafting Gen Z Marketing.
- More Instagram, TikTok, and Less Facebook and Twitter: Facebook is still popular amongst the boomers, but Gen Z prefers Instagram and TikTok more. But one important thing to note is almost 63% of GenZ individuals want the brands to connect with them via Social Media. This significantly jumps over millennials (47%) and Generation X (35%).
Now that you know what’s different about Gen Z Marketing, let’s jump on to the top strategies for Gen Z Marketing.
Gen Z Marketing Strategies For 2024
Be Concise and Precise
The attention span of Generation Z is quite low compared to other generations. They prefer their quick, engaging content, and it mirrors the fleeting yet impactful nature of TikTok videos. So, it’s a critical factor to consider in content creation. They would often gravitate towards platforms that offer direct and succinct messages.
So, if you are creating content for them, it’s very important to focus on Content’s brevity without compromising on quality. Be concise, be precise, and craft content that matches their desire for content consumption.
Throwing in some very attractive visuals can really help in crafting something that can engage and keep them stuck on their screens. More importantly, make sure your Content is optimized for mobile devices, as most of the Gen Z consume their Content on them.
The challenge lies in delivering meaningful and engaging messages within a limited timeframe or space, making every second and every pixel count. So make sure you do not miss out on this important factor while creating a comprehensive Gen Z Marketing Strategy.
Say a BIG YES to Video Content!
Gen Z loves video content (actually, almost every generation loves it). This is a mobile-first generation, and hence, they are deeply connected to the video content.
Since the day they were born, most of them have been surrounded by videos in the form of Cable TV, DTH TV, CD players, and ultimately the king of them all: YouTube! But their affair with videos did not stop on YouTube.
Instead, it grew with platforms like TikTok. And today, they have become super-embroiled with video content and will prefer it over all other formats. This inclination towards video is not just a passing trend but a fundamental shift in the way this generation consumes media.
Videos, with their dynamic and immersive nature, offer a level of engagement that other mediums struggle to match. Therefore, integrating video content into your marketing strategy is essential for effectively reaching and resonating with this audience.
Overlooking video content in your Gen Z Marketing mix can result in missing out on a significant opportunity to connect with them. And if you can’t connect with them, you can’t influence them. Focus on creating captivating, relatable, and shareable video content that aligns with their interests and viewing habits as a part of your Gen Z Marketing strategy.
Generation Z values authenticity and truthfulness in brand communications like no other trait. They have become so adept with the technology that they can easily identify the brands that are being honest and transparent.
Once they find such brands, they will stick to them, no matter what. For instance, if a brand encounters a setback or makes an error, candidly acknowledging the mistake will make Gen Z respect it more. And if the brand can take good steps to rectify that mistake, it’s an icing on the cake!
Gen Z will fall in love with that brand. The psychology behind this behavior is simple. GenZ understands that mistakes are a part of life and no one is immune to them. What really matters to them is the willingness of a brand to accept that mistake and take steps accordingly.
Let’s take an example of a clothing brand that has faced a supply chain issue recently. The best path for such a brand will be to take to Social Media and accept it. On the top, if that Brand explains the problem, apologizes for any inconvenience, and details the steps being taken to resolve it, Gen Z would become a fan for sure!
Another example could be a food company transparently discussing ingredient sourcing and environmental impact. Generation X might not pay attention to these factors, but Gen Z does.
Such an eco-friendly approach and steps to fix the quality-related issue can build a strong long-term relationship based on trust and reliability with the Gen Z audience. So while crafting a Gen Z Marketing strategy, focus on transparency.
Collab with Influencers
With the rise of platforms like Instagram and TikTok, the culture of Influencers flourished, especially during and post-Covid. Today, Gen Z trusts influencers they like more than celebs. They understand that celebs are paid to promote a certain product.
On the contrary, influencers have become influential after sharing genuine information and reviews. So even though it is a well-known fact that brands compensate influencers in certain ways, Gen Z believes that a lot of these influencers will not push anything irrelevant or not-so-useful to their audience.
This makes influencers a vital part of any Gen Z Marketing strategy. But before you proceed with this step, proceed with caution. Only pick those influencers who are authentic and offer unscripted content to their audience. If you make the mistake, this strategy can backfire and dent your reputation a lot.
The best strategy would be to ask influencers to engage in live-stream shopping sessions where they genuinely use and review products. This approach provides a more relatable and trustworthy experience for viewers.
Another strategy could involve influencers hosting ‘real talk’ sessions, where they discuss relevant topics or products in an honest and transparent manner, without a script, perhaps even addressing audience questions in real-time.
Such tactics leverage the influencer’s credibility and foster a sense of genuine connection and trust. In a nutshell, focus on collaborating with influencers as a part of your Gen Z Marketing.
Build a Community
You might find it hard to believe, but Gen Z is the loneliest generation out there right now! Even though it’s an age of Social Media, connections, and followers, the social structure of society has evolved in a way that makes the Gen Z feel alone.
Here’s where brands can enter and leverage an opportunity to create a strong community. This community can act like an extended family where like-minded individuals come together and share their thoughts and ideas. Such communities facilitate genuine conversations and connections, transcending traditional influencer marketing strategies.
So focus on collaborating with authentic individuals who align with your brand’s values and ethos. These individuals could range from artists and activists to thought leaders and creatives.
Each one of them will bring their unique perspective to the community. Your goal should be to create partnerships that are less about transactions and more about authentic engagement.
Additionally, incorporating Gen Z voices directly into the Brand’s narrative is an effective strategy. This can be achieved by soliciting their feedback during product development or by recognizing and celebrating the loyalty of long-term customers.
Such initiatives in your Gen Z Marketing efforts create a sense of belonging and community around the Brand.
Prioritize User-Generated Content
Inviting Generation Z to actively participate in your brand’s marketing efforts can foster a deeper connection and a sense of belonging with this audience. This strategy goes beyond superficial engagement.
It’s all about integrating their genuine experiences and voices into your brand story. Here’s what you can do as a part of your Gen Z Marketing Strategy:
- Feature User-Generated Content: You can encourage Gen Z customers to share their experiences with your products. For instance, GoPro excels at this by featuring customer videos shot with their cameras, showcasing real adventures and experiences. Such user-generated content is quite popular amongst the Gen Z.
- Include Their Ideas in Marketing Materials: Invite Gen Z to contribute ideas for your campaigns or products. Connect with as many Gen Z people as you can, know their opinions about your brand and products, and integrate their ideas into your marketing. Adobe often does this by encouraging young artists to create artwork using their software, which is then featured in Adobe’s marketing.
- Host Collaborative Events or contests: You can engage them in contests or events where they can showcase their creativity. That’s the best way to understand their thinking about what they like and what they don’t. A notable example is Starbucks’ White Cup Contest, where customers were invited to doodle on Starbucks cups and share their creations.
Fostering Brand Engagement through Co-Creation on Platforms like TikTok
Gen Z thrives on creativity and expression. And what’s better than TikTok for co-creation and collaborative engagement? You can leverage this by initiating or participating in trends that encourage user participation.
- Initiate Hashtag Challenges: Start a brand-specific hashtag challenge that resonates with Gen Z. Chipotle’s #GuacDance challenge is an excellent example, where users were encouraged to show off their best avocado-themed dance moves.
- Collaborate on Trends: Participate in existing TikTok trends or challenges by adding a unique brand twist. For example, E.L.F. Cosmetics capitalized on this with their #eyeslipsface challenge, aligning with a popular song and trend.
- Encourage User Participation in Brand Storytelling: Create opportunities for Gen Z to contribute to your brand’s narrative using brand storytelling. An example is the fashion brand Aerie, which encouraged users to post unedited photos of themselves in Aerie clothes, promoting body positivity and real beauty.
Gen Z loves TikTok, and as a part of your Gen Z Marketing Campaign, you cannot afford to miss it out. So make sure you create Content on TikTok that strikes the cord with Gen Z.
Being Authentic is crucial to connect with Gen Z. They place a lot of importance on brands that are authentic in terms of their inclusivity and diversity. They believe in social responsibility over other things, but that doesn’t mean a brand can create a façade of one!
This demographic values sincerity, and superficial gestures of activism, can lead to negative perceptions or even loss of engagement. As a brand, you must prioritize authentic activism to genuinely connect with Generation Z.
Forrester’s Technographics reports that about a third of Gen Z consumers regularly disengage with brands on social media for perceived inauthenticity in their social activism.
A 2022 Forbes article emphasizes that younger consumers increasingly assess a brand’s real-world societal impact on their purchasing decisions. This scrutiny includes evaluating ethical manufacturing, employee treatment, environmental initiatives, and sustainability.
To avoid alienating Gen Z, brands should steer clear of superficial inclusivity gestures. For e.g., “rainbow-washing” during Pride month, tokenizing employees from diverse backgrounds, or falsely claiming sustainable practices could backfire! Genuine involvement in social causes is essential.
This involves substantial donations to relevant causes, elevating marginalized voices, and actively supporting social movements. Such authentic commitment to societal betterment aligns with Generation Z’s values, fostering a deeper and more trustful relationship with this key demographic.
Create a Fun and Adventurous Brand Persona
Creating a brand persona that exudes fun and adventure is crucial in appealing to Generation Z. This demographic often turns to social media for a sense of escapism and relief. They like content that is vibrant, energetic, and infused with a spirit of adventure.
So, as a brand, you should focus on producing content that entertains and forms a deeper connection with Gen Z by aligning with their preferences for engaging experiences. This could involve integrating interactive elements, humor, and adventurous themes in marketing campaigns.
For example, creating interactive online games as a part of your Gen Z Marketing strategy that reflects the Brand’s adventurous spirit can significantly increase engagement. Such Content not only captures their attention but also helps in building a brand image that is relatable and appealing to this young and dynamic audience.
Focus on Omni-Channel Marketing
These youngsters are all about their digital world – they’re practically glued to their smartphones and are always online. But here’s a cool twist: they actually love the feeling of walking into a store and shopping the old-fashioned way. It’s got a personal touch that online shopping just can’t match.
So, what’s the game plan? You need a killer strategy that blends the best of both worlds – digital and real-life. This is where Omni-Channel Marketing comes into play. It’s a fancy term for a pretty straightforward idea: make sure Gen Z folks can interact with your brand wherever they are.
Whether they’re double-tapping on Instagram, binge-watching YouTube videos, sifting through emails, streaming their favorite shows, or just chilling at a physical store, your brand should be right there with them.
A study from Pitney Bowes and the CMO Council dropped some serious numbers on this. They found that 88% of Gen Z actually prefer this mix of digital and physical marketing.
That’s huge! By embracing an omni-channel approach, you’re not just making shopping a breeze for them; you’re also spreading your Brand’s reach across multiple platforms. It’s like casting a wider net.
Keep them engaged, whether they’re online or on the street, and you’re hitting the marketing jackpot. Remember, it’s all about making your brand a seamless part of their everyday lives, both in the digital world and in the real one.
Now let’s talk about some real-life examples of Gen Z Marketing that a lot of brands have deployed over the past couple of years.
Best Gen Z Marketing Examples
Gen Z Marketing is not the toughest nut to crack. Here are a few examples of how the Brands did it in the past and are doing it even today:
- Fenty Beauty’s #TheNextFentyFace Campaign: This innovative campaign by Fenty Beauty involved a model search via a social media contest, inviting followers to post TikToks using the campaign’s hashtag. This strategy not only promoted user engagement but also reinforced the Brand’s commitment to diversity and inclusivity. It effectively combined a marketing campaign with a model search, encouraging widespread participation.
- Patagonia’s Environmental Commitment: Patagonia‘s founder, Yvon Chouinard, announced the donation of the company to a trust and nonprofit organization to combat climate change. This significant act of philanthropy aligned perfectly with Gen Z’s values of environmental responsibility and authenticity, enhancing the Brand’s appeal among this demographic.
- Scrub Daddy’s TikTok Strategy: Scrub Daddy’s social media strategy involved creating bold and humorous TikTok content that distinguished it from typical, sanitized marketing. Their approach of leaning into a ‘villain’ role and using edgy humor resonated with Gen Z’s preference for authentic and entertaining content. Scrub Daddy on TikTok
- Glossier and Olivia Rodrigo Collaboration: Glossier’s collaboration with pop sensation Olivia Rodrigo was a masterstroke in influencer marketing. The partnership was effective due to the alignment of Rodrigo’s natural makeup style with Glossier’s brand ethos, appealing to Gen Z consumers looking for authenticity and relatability in beauty products. Glossier
- Ryanair’s TikTok Presence: Ryanair’s unique approach to TikTok involved creating content that was humorous and relatable, often not directly related to promoting their airline services. This strategy made the Brand appear more approachable and fun, aligning well with the preferences of Gen Z consumers for brands that are genuine and entertaining. Ryanair on TikTok
See how even a simple strategy can work like a charm for Gen z Marketing? While every brand is different and needs a unique approach, you too can take a cue from this and build a rock-solid Gen Z Marketing strategy that can work.
Gen Z isn’t your average crowd; they’re a mixed bag of digital savvy and a surprising love for the old-school, in-person experience. What’s your move? It’s simple: merge the digital with the real world. Make your brand unmissable – popping up on their screens and in their favorite physical hangouts.
Keep it straightforward, engaging, and ubiquitous. It’s all about weaving your brand into the fabric of their daily lives, effortlessly cruising between their online and offline worlds. Dive in, get creative, and let your brand resonate with the vibrant and ever-evolving Gen Z scene.
It’s time to step up your game and craft a strategy that resonates with Gen Z!
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Why is omni-channel marketing important for Gen Z?
Gen Z loves both digital and physical shopping experiences. Omni-channel marketing meets them everywhere they are, online and offline, creating a seamless brand experience.
Can Gen Z be engaged with traditional marketing?
Yes, but it’s more effective when blended with digital strategies. They appreciate a mix of modern digital engagement and traditional methods.
What’s the key to marketing to Gen Z?
Authenticity and engagement. Gen Z values real, relatable content and brands that engage them across various platforms.
Does Gen Z prefer online or physical stores?
They enjoy both. Gen Z likes the convenience of online shopping and the experience of physical stores, making a balanced approach effective.