There is no escaping talk about Gen Z these days. Not only are they all over the internet, ushering in the popularity of new formats such as short-form vertical video and making songs and products go viral, but they’re also out voting in such a way that significantly impacts politics and spending over $360 billion in disposable income.
As Gen Z’s power grows, it becomes increasingly important for businesses to learn about and consider them, discovering how to properly market to this generation in order to harness a new economic powerhouse.
To help you out, we’ve created this guide that tells you everything you need to know in order to better understand and successfully market to Gen Z.
Gen Z is the generation born between 1997 and 2012, making them between 10 and 26 years old today. Comprising 26% of the global population, Gen Z will soon become the largest cohort of consumers.
So what defines Gen Z and sets them apart from other generations?
First, Gen Z is the first generation to have been born into a world shaped by social media. Their lifelong technological and internet literacy is highly influential to Gen Z’s development and can be understood to relate to many of Gen Z’s defining characteristics.
For example, Gen Z is more accepting and open-minded than any other generation, caring about diversity and social and political issues. The majority of Gen Z supports social movements such as climate change and Black Lives Matter. They also highly value social responsibility, with 69% of Gen Z believing that brands should make their stance on social and political issues known publicly and 94% believing that companies have a responsibility to make the world a better place.
Gen Z is also pragmatic and highly entrepreneurial, excellent at multi-tasking but with a limited attention span. They have a strong desire for financial education and stability while expressing concerns about digital privacy.
In short, Gen Z values authenticity, deeply cares about other people, and strives to do the right thing – and support the brands that align with their values.
Now that we have a better understanding of who Gen Z is and what they care about, let’s dive into how we can leverage that knowledge to choose marketing channels and create marketing campaigns that will effectively target them.
If you want to market to Gen Z and you aren’t already on TikTok, you’d better open an account. It is estimated that 61.3% of American Gen Zers use TikTok at least once a month, and 60% of TikTok users are Gen Zers.
While TikTok may seem like a foreign platform to those of us used to Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, there are a few key things you can keep in mind that will help you succeed.
Social shopping (also called social commerce) is the integration of ecommerce into social media, such that users can click a link in a social media post to buy a product. In 2020, 68% of Gen Zers said they were interested in social shopping, making this an important marketing tactic for 2023. It’s a great way to get real ROI from your social media marketing efforts, converting viewers into actual buyers. So whenever relevant, link to the products you feature in your social media posts.
Gen Z is known for being open about issues like mental health, meaning that they don’t want to see a perfect, polished version of things that ignores the more nitty-gritty issues that affect them. Instead, Gen Z craves content that feels human and real.
In order to be as authentic as possible on social media, we recommend trying out some of these strategies.
According to McKinsey, 63% of Gen Z report that their most trusted source for learning about products and brands is recommendations from their friends. This means that leveraging social proof, or the human tendency to take cues from others as to how to behave (and what to buy), is an important marketing strategy for a Gen Z audience.
There are two ways to do this.
One is to focus on online reviews and ratings, encouraging customers to leave you feedback online as often as possible in order to build up a positive bank of online reviews and have as high of a rating as possible on websites like Facebook, Yelp, and Google. Also, use your cloud phone systems to gather customers’ feedback and honest opinion.
The second strategy is to use social proof in your marketing materials. This includes:
According to the National Retail Federation, 55% of Gen Z choose brands that are eco-friendly and socially responsible. This indicates just how crucial it is to adopt social and environmentally friendly values as a company that translate into true practices and actions.
It’s not enough simply to market yourself as caring about issues like climate change and racial equality. It’s not even enough to put your money where your mouth is by donating part of your profits to charity and partnering with minority creators and businesses – although that is a great start.
To truly capture Gen Z’s trust, it’s important to prioritize fairness and equality in your business’s manufacturing and employment practices, employing a diverse staff, using sustainable materials, and working with suppliers and manufacturers with fair labor practices.
Not only is Gen Z an incredibly diverse generation themselves, with 48% of Gen Z individuals being considered racial or ethnic minorities and 16.5% identifying as queer or transgender, but they also strongly believe in justice, equality, and diversity. This means that, in addition to employing a diverse staff (as we discussed above), it’s also important to make use of diversity in your content and marketing materials.
Whenever you can, try to include people of diverse backgrounds, gender expressions, and abilities in your social media content, product photos, website, and ads.
However, it’s important that your company’s commitment to diversity doesn’t just begin and end with marketing materials. If your staff and company itself don’t reflect values of diversity and inclusion, Gen Z will sniff it out and be repelled by your lack of authenticity.
It is estimated that about 40% of Gen Z and Millenials use the zodiac as a tool for self-identification. You can have a lot of fun with this by using astrology in your social media content. Some ideas include:
Gen Z appreciates personalization in their internet browsing and shopping experiences, meaning that it’s a great idea to try to incorporate some personalization in your marketing through things like:
However, it’s important to be careful with how you use Gen Z’s data. As a generation that highly values their privacy, Gen Z wants to be able to decide when and how their data is tracked and used. As a best practice, always follow the latest data privacy laws.
As a generation that cares about spending money wisely, Gen Z loves a good deal. In fact, discounts are the number one reason why Gen Z consumers engage with brands on social media.
So why not give them what they want by using social media as a place to offer special discounts, deals, and promotions? You can also leverage exclusivity marketing to get Gen Z audiences to sign up for your email list or view your Instagram stories more by sharing special discounts exclusively in those places.
As today’s young adults, teens, and tweens, Gen Z represents a powerful generation that is only increasing in its relevance, cultural influence, political strength, and buying power. By starting the process of tailoring your marketing efforts to Gen Z now, you’ll gain the loyalty of a customer base that will continue to be relevant decades into the future.