You might have heard of Baby Boomers and Millennials but Gen Z are the new kids on the block. Also referred to as Zoomers, this is anyone born between 1997-2012. They are digital natives, meaning they have never known life without the internet. Just process that for a minute: they have been engrossed in the digital sphere since before they could talk and walk. They are technologically aware and view the world in a different way to that of previous generations, with a focus on finding the truth, whether that be in terms of their own identity, their ethical standpoint and that of others or engaging in dialogue to find solutions.
Why should this interest you as a business owner?
Whilst Boomers have the highest disposable income and Millennials are the largest group across the population, Gen Z have the most spending power of all – over $360 billion as of 2021. Consider also that 93% of parents say their children influence family and household purchases, and it becomes even clearer that a significant portion of market spending is down to this generation.They are on track to become the largest generation of consumers in a few short years so making them a priority for your marketing strategy seems sensible, particularly for future proofing your business.
How do we reach them?
You might think that as Gen Z-ers are so fluent in technology, they would be open to all manner of digital marketing, but actually, research has shown that they are quite particular about the content they consume. Generally speaking, traditional advertising isn’t their bag. A recent survey by digital consumer research firm Bulbshare showed that 99% of consumers in this generational cohort will hit ‘skip’ on an ad if it’s an option and that nearly two-thirds (63%) use ad blockers to avoid online adverts. Maybe you are thinking ‘well what’s the point then?’ I hear you, but I return you to the first part of this article: the potential revenue this generation has to offer is so beneficial that it’s worth taking the time to learn about Gen Z’s preferences and adapting your strategy.
So, here are six principles to bear in mind when targeting Gen Z:
1. Be authentic
Gen Z’s focus on finding the truth permeates every aspect of their lives and their consumption of ads is no different. They are happy to research and cross reference information in order to find this truth and won’t hesitate to do a deep dive on your company. Your internal and external messaging should be the same and your company values must permeate the entire stakeholder system; if your advertising is showing one thing but the company culture is showing something else, they will drop you in a heartbeat.
They want to see the values behind a brand and make a human connection so consider incorporating behind the scenes footage or showing a day in the life of your business. Using real customers in your marketing is another good option; the popularity of influencers remains high, but Bulbshare’s research showed that 86% would be more inclined to buy a product recommended by a friend rather than an influencer.
2. Adopt transparency and accountability
Gen Z cares a lot about their values and they expect companies to do the same. If you fail to live up to their expectations, they will call you out. Social media is at their fingertips constantly, and if you make a mistake and fail to acknowledge it, it could soon go viral, cost you customers and get you “cancelled.”
Be honest, open and transparent; if you make a mistake – for example, by using non-inclusive language – take responsibility and explain how you will fix it now and going forward.
3. Personalise content
Personalised marketing is a proven strategy across the board but it is an absolute no-brainer when marketing for Gen Z: 81% of them prefer personalised ads.
To get the level of personalisation that young consumers want, brands need to use segmented marketing. This essentially separates your larger audience into smaller more specific ones (such as sorting by location, age or interests). This segmentation can only be done by using customer’s data, and as Gen Z tend to be more reluctant to share their personal information with companies – unless they trust them – this can be a challenge. There are plenty of tools and techniques out there to help gather data though, from customer surveys to pixel tracking to customer service chatbots. If you’re not sure how to use them and need a bit of help from the experts, drop us an email.
4. Make it visual
The top three social media platforms among Gen Z are YouTube, TikTok and Instagram – all emphasise the visual. Gen Z loves a bit of short form video content, with snappy graphics and interactivity, while large blocks of text will just make them scroll past.
Luckily, ads platforms such as Meta and Google Ads make it easy to incorporate images and video into your advertising.
5. Show personality and make it entertaining
Young people see, on average, 10,000 marketing messages a day. They are so used to filtering relevant content that if yours doesn’t grip them, they will just scroll on by. Add to that the fact that you have a mere 8 seconds to catch and keep their attention and it is clear that entertaining content is vitally important.
The best content for Gen Z isn’t super curated – it’s bold, with a strong voice and a personality. Making your content interactive, by adding a poll or a sticker on an Instagram reel, or starting a challenge on TikTok, is proven to increase engagement, particularly for this demographic. Make your content educational, entertaining or valuable and you’re onto a winner.
If you really want to get to grips with what Gen Z-ers want, consider hiring some to run your campaigns. Here at TDS we value the input of our Gen Z staff and would love to share their knowledge with you. Get in touch here.
6. Build a community
A digital community is integral to your Gen Z marketing strategy. Young people are actively looking for ways to engage with other like-minded individuals and if you are able to facilitate this, it will be beneficial to your brand and your consumers.
There are so many ways to do this, from making a Facebook group and asking for feedback or ideas from consumers, to posting polls on social media and hosting giveaways. Remember, Gen Z wants to feel part of something authentic. Featuring user-generated content on your social media or website does just this. Not only do they get interaction with similar people (and the bonus of their own five minutes of fame), but you get additional publicity for your brand or product.
Pro tip: Gen Z live on their smartphones and they are never far out of reach. Any content you create should be optimised for mobile in order to allow for easy consumption.