Marketing to Gen Z | Come for the Authenticity, Stay for the Experiences

Marketers must always be evolving and adapting to markets and
consumer trends, and digital marketing to Gen Z is no different.
We’ve seen Generation Z coming for a while. But it’s still
important to understand what makes them tick. Where do they hang
out? Maybe most important: what do they value? Sure, it’s easier
said than done, as many things are, but if you plan to market
effectively to Gen Z it’s time to get to know your audience.

Who is Generation Z?

Generally speaking, these are the basic criteria and
oversimplified stats for defining the iGeneration, or Generation

  • Born between 1995 and the 2010s
  • Most raised by Gen X
  • Approximately 40 percent of all consumers
  • Eight-second attention span
  • A full 95 percent have access to a smartphone (Pew)
  • Value brands that feel authentic
  • Grew up during a recession
  • Saving money is a strong focus
  • Tend to be pragmatic, practical

According to Gartner
, Gen Z is “ready to spend” with an
estimated $143.2 billion in buying power. Access to and influence
on their parents’ disposable income and spending decisions is
also a consideration.

Understand the importance of digital marketing to Gen Z

Gen Z is a digital- and mobile-native generation. Life online
and offline is intermingled. The notion of the internet merely
isolating teens and destroying social interaction and social
intelligence has been unfounded and misunderstood.

70 percent of Gen Zers
say that they feel more connected when
watching YouTube videos with others. Mobile and digital connection
through social media, smartphones, and other digital media have
facilitated another dimension of interaction and connectedness for
much of Generation Z.

Pew Research Center
findings show that about 45 percent of
teens are online “almost constantly.”

A major function of social media and digital connection for Gen
Z is to escape the stresses of teenage life. Sure, earlier
generations had to find other pastimes and activities in what was
available. Gen Z just happens to have the digital world interwoven
into theirs.

As Nir Eyal discussed in his book, Indistractable,
tweens, teens, and young adults turn to the world of social media,
video games, and other digital activities for legitimate reasons
other than simply to ignore and escape their parents, homelife, and
responsibilities. The digital world in its many manifestations and
offerings provides a space in which Gen Zers can find and inhabit a
sense of agency, “autonomy, competence, and relatedness.”

Create meaningful, authentic marketing strategies

Yes, this is the best practice for successfully marketing to any
of your customers, regardless of segment, demographic, or
generation, and not only marketing to Gen Z. It’s pretty easy:
Don’t fake it. Even so, many brands succumb to the temptation of
buying random data and email lists and sad attempts at
one-size-fits-all marketing and hoping for the best. If you know
you don’t speak Gen Z’s language, learn it. Find someone who
speaks it and does so authentically.

Use the power of social media. Meet your customers where they
are. Gen Z has necessarily developed a strong marketing sleaze
detector, so creating and delivering authentic marketing content is
required and there are no shortcuts. Make it real. Make it
practical. Make it meaningful.

Hone your message for speed, precision, and appeal

While Gen Z is said to have a shorter attention span than
Millennials, it’s important to understand that trait in context.
Don’t mistake a shorter attention span for an inability to

When considering the highly practical mindset of Gen Zers, an
apparently shorter attention span simply means that they are not
willing to spend (i.e., waste) time and energy on experiences and
content that doesn’t appeal to them or offer what they want or

With so much information constantly available and vying for
attention, Gen Z has developed what some have called a “highly
evolved eight-second filter
” to sort and evaluate high
volumes of info.

Creating your elevator pitch is a good start. Except with Gen Z
you have until the doors close. And then all the doors close. Eight
seconds is all you have. Make it count.

Engage your Gen Z customers on social media

It makes sense that the first digital-native generation spends a
lot of time and seeks meaningful connections through social media.
The most popular social media platforms among Gen Z include
YouTube, Instagram, and Snapchat.

Demonstrate your understanding and respect for what Gen Z values
in social media. Helping them manage their brand on social media is
a prerequisite for Generation Z finding value in your brand.

Remember email marketing

Certainly, social media is a vitally important channel for Gen
Z. But it’s not the only one. Leverage other relevant digital
marketing channels for the generation who’s “almost constantly

Email marketing still works. The majority of Gen Zers check
their email at least daily if not multiple times a day, and email
is among the most-preferred channels of communication. It should go
without saying that delivering relevant, engaging, and personalized
content (promos, discounts, recommendations) is paramount for
creating effective marketing content.

Leverage the power of video content to build brand trust and

When Gen Z takes time to unwind or needs a mood improvement or
just to be entertained, video is the medium of choice with YouTube
providing the go-to mental boost.

Gen Zers turn to YouTube for more than ASMR and cat videos.

According to Pew Research Center
, 85 percent of Gen Z teens say
they use YouTube, and 80 percent do so to learn new skills and gain
new knowledge.

Strike a balance between entertainment and practical
considerations with your content.

Enable Gen Z customers to live their values by doing business
with you

our customer wants to be the hero, and how well you help them
live out their values by doing business with your company carries
enormous weight in whether they choose to do so. “Empower your
customers with the feeling that investing in your products or
services makes them a hero. Draw a clear, straight line from their
point-of-purchase to the impact they’ll have on the world.”

This includes social issues, environmental initiatives, and
other ways to see the impact of their buying power at work in the

Design great experiences into your offerings

As a practical and selective group, Gen Z does their research
before buying. That includes reading the reviews and learning about
your company and where you stand on social and environmental

At least as important as the product is the experience designed
into being your customer. From participating in your social
initiatives to engaging with and participating in your brand on
social media, the use and function of the product itself is
outweighed three times by the feelings and experiences that come
with it.

As with any customer segment, getting to know them takes time
and effort. You have to listen and pay attention to what they say
as well as what they do. Doing your research and applying empathy
to your business approach and marketing to Gen Z strategies is
bound to pay off.

And with Generation Z about to become the largest consumer group
over the coming decades, understanding not only what they do and
how they do it, but why they do what they do will enable you to
create and deliver the right balance of products and experiences at
the right prices.

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Marketing to Gen Z | Come for the Authenticity, Stay for the Experiences