Marketing to Gen Z – A Guide to Increasing your Results

marketing to gen z with insights

Move over Millennials, marketing to Gen Z is topping everyone’s list of priorities.  There has never been a generation with more influence inside and outside of the family than Generation Z.  Modern families make decisions as a group and parents strive to empower and consult rather than dictate and protect.  This dynamic has created a generation confident in their opinions who often seek out and respect the ideas of others.  For current and future success marketing to Gen Z is an art and science that must be mastered.

But Marketing to Gen Z is Challenging

Generation Z are true digital natives.  Born around the same time as Google (1998) they have never known a world without internet.  This unprecedented access to information has formed a value set unlike generations before and has forced them to evaluate information with a more critical eye.  This has had a profound effect on brand communication and marketing.  No longer is market share won with highly stylized brand ads and catchy jingles.  Gen Z-ers want honest information – to feel they are being spoken with not to.  Nowhere is this illustrated better than in the world of teen retail.  American Eagle, unlike some of its competitors, is thriving with a focus on assortment of clothing and non-airbrushed ads, catering to both need for variety and to see a realistic image portrayal (source: Media Post, American Eagle Says We All Can).  For more information on how marketing to Gen Z has evolved for retailers, see our whitepaper shopping in a digital world

 So, how do you win?

Increasing your share of Gen Z spend and their influence depends on your ability to do the following:

Understand Gen Z

There is no one-size-fits-all solution to marketing to this group.  You need a clear understanding of how they perceive your brand, how and why they use your product/service and how you stack up to competitors.  The perception you have of this generation may not be the reality, particularly if you are blurring them with Millennials.  They are realistic, self-reliant and determined.  According to Goldman Sachs research, Gen Z has a more conservative approach to money management and puts an emphasis on securing their future.  Along with this are emerging trends such as the desire to have more gender-neutral choices, particularly in clothing.

Ask us how we can help you further understand your GenZ audience.

understand #GenZ before creating your strategy #marketingGenZ Click To Tweet

Youth relate to humour

Gen Z’ers gravitate to (and share) content that uses humour.  Remember to stay true to your brand while doing this, this group will see through an intentionally forced message.  Screenagers love anything on which that they can click “Play.”  Above all, they love something that they can share with their friends. They love videos that are funny, original, catchy or memorable; spoofs or videos riding on the coattails of other popular content; using popular songs and creating new words based on something else popular as an example. Evidently, humor is the most important factor of an online video intended to catch the attention of a mass of teenagers.  For more information on how humour has been used in retail marketing to Gen Z, see our whitepaper shopping in a digital world

Engage influencers that connect with youth

Influencer marketing has been receiving a lot of attention lately.  In an effort to target Gen Y and Gen Z, attention has shifted from expensive celebrity-endorsed campaigns to a more authentic model. An influencer can be anyone with a blog or vlog and an audience who identifies with them and is influenced by their opinions. Brands use influencers as a conduit to their target audience, and more recently, have been perusing partnerships with micro-influencers (influencers with less than 100,000 followers) to reach their targets.   Niche or mass, influencers have an impact on the behavior of this audience.  Find the right influencers for your brand message (or specific products) and enable them to speak in their own voice. For more information about influencer marketing to Gen Z, see our whitepaper The future of Influence

13% of Cdn teens say their fave influencers understand them more than their friends… Click To Tweet

Embrace user generated content

Gen Z’ers not only want to feel engaged with a brand but want a realistic portrayal of the message.  Encourage them to create content and see how they relate to your brand.  For example, Converse’s “Made by you” campaign was based on the insight that teens want to portray their true authentic selves.  The integrated advertising campaign celebrated fans of the brand who have been expressing themselves and their creativity in Chuck Taylor All Star sneakers for nearly 100 years.   For the Spring 2015 campaign, Converse scoured the globe to collect beloved and distinctly personal Chuck Taylor All Star sneakers, each of which tells a story of transformation from blank canvas to self-portrait of their owner.  This campaign provided an anchor concept to encourage social sharing of user-generated content, something that was already happening, which converse brilliantly captured.  For more information on how UGC has been used in retail marketing to Gen Z, see our whitepaper shopping in a digital world

Make an emotional connection to connect with youth

Making an emotional connection is about knowing your audience.  For example, do you know what a #QuarterLifeCrisis is? It’s the state of limbo, where young adults feel the repercussions of no longer being a child, but not quite ready to be an adult. The phrase has been mentioned 17,000+ times across social media since June 2015, and marketers are capitalizing by creating emotional content that is relatable to this life stage.   Driven by frugality, or nostalgia, this generation is empowering brands to construct memorable experiences that create that emotional connection between brand and consumer.

Perhaps the most important tip for marketing to Gen Z, stay true to your brand. Teens are used to filtering through thousands of messages and have developed a discriminating filter that helps them make quick decisions.

“An organization needs to be honest and trustworthy and a brand needs to stand up to what it says it’s going to be” – Anonymous quote, yconic member

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