Gen Z is the future of marketing.
As one of the most prominent consumer groups, this generation is already significantly impacting the market. That influence will only grow in the years to come, so businesses that want to succeed must understand how to market to Gen Z effectively.
Long story short, marketing to Gen Z means engaging with them on their terms. This means creating content relevant to their interests, using authentic and transparent messaging, and being active on any social media platform they use.
In this article, we will explore the do’s and don’ts of marketing to Gen Z. We also compare and contrast Gen Z’s preferences with those of Millennials to gain valuable insights into successful marketing strategies that cater to both groups’ unique purchasing styles.
Understanding Gen Z
Generation Z refers to individuals born between the mid-1990s and early 2010s who have grown up in an era of technological advancements and digital connectivity. They are the largest generation in the United States, making up 27% of the population.
Gen Z consumers are a savvy, skeptical, and social group. They are social media natives who are used to interacting with brands in authentic and transparent ways. They are also more likely to be skeptical of traditional marketing tactics, where most brands fall short today.
Unlike Millennials, who lived through the transition from the analog to the digital world, Gen Z has never known a world without smartphones, social media, and instant access to information. This fundamental difference shapes their attitudes and how to market to a Gen Z audience.
Gen Z at a Glance
According to a study by Shopify, Gen Z is a generation of digital natives who prefer online shopping over traditional brick-and-mortar stores. They are more likely to make purchases online than any other generation. Gen Z is also highly influenced by social media and peer recommendations when purchasing.
Gen Z is known for being socially and environmentally conscious. They prioritize sustainability and ethical practices in their purchasing decisions. A study by Nielsen found that 73% of Gen Z are willing to pay more for sustainable or environmentally friendly products. Similarly, Gen Z is more likely to be brand loyal to companies that align with their values and actively contribute to social causes.
Favorite Social Media Websites
Gen Z’s preferred social media platforms include TikTok, Instagram, and Snapchat. These platforms provide opportunities for creative expression, entertainment, and social connection. Gen Z is also heavy users of YouTube and Facebook, consuming various types of content and engaging with their communities.
According to these studies, Gen Z is also:
- More likely to be gimmick-averse
- More likely to be bi- or multicultural than previous generations
- More likely to be politically active and engaged in social justice issues
- More likely to be entrepreneurial and have a strong sense of self-reliance
- More likely to be digital natives and deeply understand technology
- More likely to be well-informed about the products and services available to them
The Do’s of Marketing to Gen Z:
With Gen Z marketing, your messaging needs to be genuine, transparent, and honest. This group craves authenticity and won’t put up with fake sincerity. Incorporate user-generated content and showcase real people’s experiences to establish trust and build genuine connections.
Leverage social media
Marketing to Gen Z requires a strong social media presence. Create engaging content that aligns with their interests and values. Platforms like TikTok, Instagram, and Snapchat are particularly effective for reaching this audience. Encourage user participation and collaborate with influencer marketing to amplify your brand’s reach.
Highlight purpose and values
Align your brand with a purpose and actively support causes that resonate with this generation. Communicate your commitment to sustainability, diversity, inclusivity, and social responsibility. This appeals to their values-driven mindset. Be authentic and transparent about who and what you support.
Embrace video content
Gen Zers gravitate towards video content. Create short, engaging videos that tell a story or provide valuable information. Experiment with different formats, such as tutorials, behind-the-scenes footage, and user-generated content (UGC), to create compelling video content that resonates with this crowd.
The Don’ts of Marketing to Gen Z:
Avoid traditional advertising
Gen Z audiences are more likely than previous generations, like Baby Boomers, to ignore or skip traditional advertisements. For them, it’s just white noise at this point. Conversely, interruptive, intrusive, or irrelevant ads can turn them off. Focus on creating engaging content that adds value to their lives and encourages active engagement with your brand.
Steer clear of generic messaging
Gen Z appreciates personalization, authenticity, and individuality. Avoid using generic or one-size-fits-all messaging. Tailor your communication to resonate with their specific interests, needs, and aspirations. Utilize data-driven insights to understand their preferences and create personalized experiences that make them feel seen, heard, and understood.
Don’t underestimate the power of user-generated content
Neglecting UGC can be a missed opportunity to engage with this generation. Encourage UGC creation, actively involve them in your campaigns, and leverage their authentic content to amplify your brand’s reach and credibility.
Avoid ignoring social issues
This runs counter to most brands’ comfort levels. The problem is that ignoring social issues altogether can lead to a negative perception of your brand. Stay informed, be socially conscious, and try to communicate your brand’s values and actions to resonate with Gen Z’s desire for socially responsible brands.
Gen Z vs. Millennials: Comparing Consumer Behavior
Gen Z and Millennials (individuals born between 1981 and 1996) are today’s most important consumer groups. They are both digitally savvy and have a strong influence on the market. However, there are some key differences in each group’s consumer behavior.
What is unique about marketing to Gen Z? Businesses should create engaging social media content, be authentic in messaging, and align with Gen Z’s causes. For Millennials, focus on customer experience, shareable content, and creative approaches to storytelling instead of hard selling.
With that said, let’s take a closer look at the distinguishing factors of each generation.
- Prefers online shopping over traditional brick-and-mortar stores
- Highly influenced by social media and peer recommendations
- Values sustainability and ethical practices
- More likely to be brand loyal to companies that align with their values
- Prefers social media platforms like TikTok, Instagram, and Snapchat
- More likely to be influenced by word-of-mouth and traditional advertising
- More likely to be loyal to brands that offer a good customer experience
- Prefers social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn
- Gen Z is more likely to be digital natives who have grown up with technology.
- Millennials are more likely to be skeptical of new technology or applications.
- Gen Z is more likely to be values-driven and to care about sustainability and social responsibility.
- Millennials are more willing to switch brands if they find a better deal.
These key differences in consumer behavior have implications for brands that want to reach both groups. And considering these cohorts continue to wield the majority of consumer purchasing power, you need to know how to appeal to both groups.
Marketing Tips to Reach Gen Z and Millennials
Now that we’ve established the key differences between Gen Z marketing and Millennial marketing, here are effective marketing strategies for how to market to both generations simultaneously:
- Gen Z and Millennials are savvy consumers who can spot a fake from a mile away. When you create content, be genuine and transparent in your messaging; they’ll be more likely to trust you.
- Social media is the primary way that Gen Z and Millennials consume content. Create engaging social media content that aligns with their interests and values.
- Both are values-driven consumers, especially Gen Z. Align your brand with a purpose that the target audience cares about, and they’ll be more likely to be loyal to your brand.
- Both groups of young consumers are visual learners. Create short, engaging videos that tell a story or provide valuable information they want to learn from and share.
Marketing to Gen Z customers requires a nuanced approach that acknowledges their unique characteristics and preferences by embracing authenticity, leveraging social media, emphasizing purpose and values, and creating engaging video content.
Gen Z is a generation that is full of potential and promise. Like Millennials, they are the future of the workforce and the consumers of tomorrow. Businesses that understand Gen Z’s unique needs and preferences will be well-positioned to succeed.
Marketing to Gen Z Made Easy
As discussed, Gen Z is one of the largest consumer groups today, and they have unique preferences when it comes to marketing. But don’t worry; you don’t have to go it alone.
At Credo, we have a fleet of pre-vetted marketing agencies who understand the complexity and diverse interests of this consumer group. Many of these agencies have Gen Z staff themselves, and all are ready to help you create a marketing strategy that will reach them effectively.