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Ready for the Rise of Gen Z?

As much as they share the previous generation’s affinity for technology, Gen Z is not an extreme version of Millennials. As the first generation to have grown up without any memory of a time without the internet or cell phones, they are truly the first tech-native generation. 

This is a generation that had their childhood and adolescence defined by economic uncertainty, the rise of social media, and major political changes. Ambitious, conscientious, and technologically gifted – this is a generation on which Gen X and Millennial marketing strategies just won’t work. 

Why does marketing to Gen Z matter? 

Right now, Gen Z makes up over a quarter of the entire population in the US. By 2020, they will account for 40% of all consumer markets. 

That means that they account for $44 billion of purchasing power. That’s billion with a B. Add to that their influence on the purchasing power of their parents and that jumps to $200B! 

Now that the importance of this generation has been understood, the focus shifts to understanding specific characteristics of the generation and the steps that should be taken to help market products and services better to them.


5 marketing strategies that speak directly to Gen Z


1. Think different on Social Media

The new generation looks at social media as a way to consume and connect, not share. In a recent survey by Response Media, we learned that:

  • Instagram is to showcase their aspirational selves 
  • Real-life moments are shared on SnapChat 
  • News is consumed from Twitter 
  • Information is gleaned from Facebook. 

In fact, studies show that Facebook has lost nearly 25% of its user base in the last 3 years, with a majority of today’s teens preferring Snapchat. 

Credits: Statista

Also remember, that this is an entire generation of online shoppers with Instagram being their platform of choice for Brand discovery and YouTube wins at shopping recommendations

So when it comes to creating content for this generation, you might want to stay off the “old-people” platform and focus more on Stories (Snap and Instagram) for content and ads. 

2. Be Genuine, be purposeful

Gen Z is bold and is not afraid to call out bu**s**t. Redefining the meaning of “Cool”, Gen Z believes that being cool is about embracing what you love, rejecting what you don’t, and being kind to others. 

This is reflected in everything from their choice of celebrity role models to their choice of brands and even their employers. A recent survey confirmed that 60% of Gen Z will choose and support brands that take a stand on issues of race, sexual orientation, and human rights. While 93% say their choice of a company depends on their impact on society. 

Brands like Lush and Toms are leading the way for more brands to take an ethical stand. Besides an excellent product offering, they frequently take on an active role in charitable and social causes. 

3. Leverage micro and nano influencers

Influencer marketing has always been a good idea. This has been true through the ages. It just went by different names – word of mouth, personal reviews, et al. But the days of big-bucks Hollywood superstars may be numbered in this game. 

A survey by Google showed that 70% of today’s teens preferred and acted upon the advice of their favorite YouTube content creator. This is a generation who has also seen the downfall of the credibility of online reviews. And this makes them more skeptical about believing brand news. 

One way to tackle this is the concept of Brand Advocacy. Be it loyal customers, happy employees, or anyone that can put a face to the brand. By getting people – real people – to talk about your brand, you surpass the fluff and stand out as a no BS brand. 

4. Optimize for convenience and mobile

One of the biggest traits of this generation is their short attention spans. And you really can’t blame them. They haven’t dealt with things like dial-up internet, and they’re exposed to over 4000 ads per day. They are an entire generation of online shoppers who have collectively decided that a smartphone is their weapon of choice. And part of this appeal may be the fact that a smartphone is probably the first big item they’ve owned personally. 

Credits: Think with Google

Busy to a fault, they’ll pay a premium to save time if they have to.  The success of Netflix and Amazon is proof of this. While millennials may be happy with 2-day shipping to their doorstep, Gen Z expects it! So, for Brands, the take away is, highlight the Convenience card as much as you can. It may well be the decider. 

5. Prioritize Privacy

One of the biggest differences between millennials and gen Z is that the former are optimists while the latter are realists. Being technically innate, they know what goes on the internet stays on the internet. So if they’re going to share their details with a company they want to be certain that it’s protected.

Credits: IBM

While less than a third of teens are comfortable sharing more than their contact info and purchase history, 2/3rds say they wouldn’t mind it if they trust the brand.

This is where brands need to step up. 

Whenever you attempt to collect data from Gen Z, make sure you do so with transparency and you know how to protect it. 

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