While there’s no ceasefire in sight for the so-called “generation wars,” there are clear differences within the younger generation of consumers. We tend to think of anyone under 30 as a millennial, but most millennials are actually in their 30s and roaming toward 40—further along in their career and life decisions.
If you want to get in early with the next generation of adults, you’ll want to target Gen Z. This generation was born between 1997 and 2012 and comes after millennials. Dial-up internet and VHS tapes are nothing more than a distant memory for this generation, who grew up with smartphones in their hands.
Gen Z is a unique generation with its own preferences and quirks. If you want to endear yourself with this group of young consumers, follow these eight tips to better reach your Gen Z audience.
1. Build a brand with purpose
As the world’s most diverse generation, Gen Z buyers are conscious consumers. They care about how your brand affects the environment, politics, and social issues. This isn’t a cute add-on or marketing ploy: Gen Z is serious about buying from brands with purpose.
Consider the data:
76% of Gen Z is concerned about the environment
22% of Gen Z was raised by at least one immigrant parent
48% say same-sex marriage is good for society
The best way to appeal to Gen Z is to take their values to heart. Make sure you’re running your business in a way you can be proud of. This means using recycled or compostable materials, following fair labor practices, and treating employees with respect.
Once you’ve optimized your operations, you can also appeal to Gen Z’s hunger for purpose through:
Charitable partnerships or donations
Funding awareness campaigns
Social justice rallies
2. Foster loyalty
Consumers might seem fickle, but Gen Z wants to be loyal to the brands they love. You just have to know how to foster their sense of loyalty. Every generation is different, but Gen Z responds well to:
Loyalty apps that offer valuable bonuses like freebies, discounts, and exclusive access
Sponsored in-person experiences, like pop-up shops
Community-building (Sephora Beauty Insiders is a great example of this)
User-generated content from fellow Gen Z consumers
3. Be human
Nobody likes corny stock photos, but Gen Z really dislikes them. This audience can see right through marketing veneers, so connect with them in an honest, down-to-earth way.
For starters, your brand needs to have a personality and a point of view. You’ll want to speak the way you would to a good friend—no fluff, spam, or jargon allowed.
63% of Gen Z wants to see real people in your marketing photos. It might be high time to ditch that stock photo subscription and conduct a photo shoot with your actual customers instead.
It’s also important to use diverse models in your marketing. Since Gen Z is only 52% white and 48% heterosexual (a significant departure from previous generations), it’s critical to show diverse perspectives in your marketing.
4. Everything is mobile-first
The problem is that many brands are creating Gen Z experiences on laptops or desktops. By focusing development on a bigger screen, you might miss something that your Gen Z audience will notice on their smartphones.
Don’t release anything to a Gen Z audience without testing it on multiple mobile devices. That means creating experiences on your:
Be sure that they are the proper format, size, and length for mobile users. Remember, responsive design is your friend.
5. Get social—in the right ways
97% of Gen Z uses social media to conduct product research. That’s the good news.
The bad news is that your brand might not be promoting itself on social media in a way that appeals to Gen Z shoppers. For example, if you’re pouring all of your time into Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, Gen Z consumers aren’t as active on these channels. They prefer video-centric platforms like YouTube, TikTok, and Snapchat.
Since Gen Z’s average attention span is eight seconds, bite-sized video performs better on social media. Go all-in on short-form videos, like TikToks, to communicate more information in a more engaging way to pique Gen Z’s interest.
6. Partner with Gen Z influencers
Gen Z doesn’t want to see promotions from big-name celebrities like the Kardashians. Instead, they’re interested in the opinions of influencers who they consider peers.
In practice, this means brands need to partner with micro-influencers with an active Gen Z following. They tend to be less expensive so that brands can work with a handful of micro-influencers on a single campaign.
7. Rethink your paid ads
Paid ads can rake in a lot of immediate traffic, but they aren’t the best way to impress Gen Z. In fact, 69% of Gen Z thinks ads are disruptive.
If you want to endear yourself with Gen Z, rethink paid ads. It’s usually better to invest in organic content or influencer partnerships to get their attention.
8. Invest in branded product campaigns
Sure, Gen Z is native to digital, but as consumers, they’re also growing increasingly jaded by the crowded digital landscape. One of the best ways to connect with this generation is by Branding Products With Purpose™. Branded products will give your audience something tangible to connect with your brand—and let’s face it, everyone loves free stuff.
Try combining your promo product campaigns with other smart marketing strategies, like short-form videos and influencer partnerships. Choose trendy products and colors that Gen Z will fawn over. For example, the ‘90s aesthetic is in full swing, so tie-dye and childhood nostalgia are a great way to win the hearts of Gen Z buyers. Or go for something technical and useful, like a power bank.
Simplify Gen Z marketing
It’s difficult marketing to a different generation, and Gen Z is a tough nut to crack. But even so, Gen Z is the future, and brands must adjust their approach to attract these consumers. Following these eight tips will help your company build an early relationship with this audience to Cultivate Brand Love™.