We’ve all heard of the Boomers – but do you know about the Zoomers? Gen Z is the generation born between 1997-2012. They are between 11-26 years old and are the next generation behind Millennials. Although Gen Z consumers are still young, they will soon become the largest group of consumers – so brands will need to start paying attention to their tendencies and buying expectations. Today, we will share the characteristics, values, traits, and trends with this generation so you can establish relationships and learn how to market to Gen Z.
Welcome to Marketing and a Mic. We’re here to give you various digital marketing tips, trends, and helpful guides to help your business get results. For a long time, we’ve been talking about “how do I target millennials?” Well, the tide’s turning, and there’s a new content-hungry, tech-savvy group in town: Gen Z. And before you roll your eyes, let me drop some facts about Zoomers:
- They have never known life without the internet
- They are the largest generation in American History
- They currently have $360 billion in disposable income – that’s 40% of global consumers
CORE CHARACTERISTICS OF GEN Z
Do we have your attention now? So, what matters most to this generation? For starters, everything about their shopping habits, purchase decisions, and values differs from previous generations. Gen Zers are digital natives – meaning they were practically born with a screened device in their hand.
They are also the most educated generation yet, the most racially diverse, and have grown up in more dynamic family structures. As a result, they are less fazed by differences in race, religion, and gender identification. So let’s break down some of the common characteristics of Gen Zers.
1. They Are Astute Consumers
Where Millennials are more about authentic experiences, Zoomers are about the search for truth. Information has always been immediately accessible to this generation, and they are very comfortable researching and cross-referencing data sources in their quest for accurate information. This also means they are not easily swayed and will evaluate a range of options before settling on a brand. The upside of this is loyalty. 66% of Gen Zers will stick to buying from a favorite brand long-term if they have a strong connection to it. Gen Zers buying behaviors directly reflect their values – they take a lot of pride in purchasing from businesses that resonate with them.
This means two things:
- They are more likely to be persuaded by recommendations of real-life users than by celebrity endorsements.
- They are more willing to pay more for something if it represents their own point of view or life experience.
2. They Value Self-Care
Mental health is an increasing factor with younger generations and something that shouldn’t be ignored. Being born into a device-friendly atmosphere, coupled with the “covid years,” has fostered feelings of isolation and loneliness within their environment. Additionally, many young people fall prey to the “compare and despair” trap that social media can present. The turbulent state of the world has also driven mental health and increased activism to help “change the state of the world.” Because of this, they place a high value of brands that embrace diversity and inclusion.
3. They are More Financially Minded
Many Gen Zers watched their parents and grandparents take substantial financial hits during the Great Recession in 2007-2009. Having witnessed these economic struggles, Zoomers are more driven by financial security, which means they are not impulsive buyers. While Millennials came of age during the economic boom, Gen Zers were shaped by the after-effects and hardships they witnessed their families go through. Because of this, they are more able to make safe investments, stable jobs, and conservative spending.
HOW TO MARKET TO GEN Z
One thing is for sure – This generation is unlike any prior one – they are unique, diverse and consume digital technology like it’s candy. They prefer streaming services to traditional cable and get snackable content they can view from their phones and computers. So here are some ways to align your marketing to Zoomers.
1. Create Platform-Specific Content
Each social platform has its own audience, which means replicating content across multiple channels isn’t optimal to reach Gen Zers. Instead, create content that you share on TikTok with the TikTok audience in mind. Additionally, Gen Z prefers that brands know how to use each platform uniquely, just like they do.
- Instagram for aspirational post
- Snapchat and Stories for everyday moments
- TikTok for fun and trending ideas
- Twitter for news
- LinkedIn for career-focused content
Gen Zers expect you to honestly “know your audience” and “know your platform” if you want your content to be successful.
2. Use Video – But Keep it Brief
Most of this generation had a mobile device by middle school. Because of this, it’s no secret how incredibly effective video can be. They devour video content from their smartphones which is why they gravitate to video-based platforms like Tik Tok, Snapchat, Instagram, and YouTube.
Short-form content is the way to go with Gen Z. They are accustomed to bite-sized material and scrollability and don’t have the patience or attention span to watch long-form video content. There’s no avoiding it at this point – video must be a staple in your marketing strategy.
3. Embrace Authenticity
As we mentioned, your brand’s voice, tone, and personality must shine through – and in an authentic way. Invest the time in showing your audience what values matter with your business. Your brand must be more than a product or service if you want to do business with Gen Zers. Develop content that will foster a human connection – anything from behind-the-scenes, bloopers, and teambuilding events should be shared and shared in video form.
4. Be Real
Remember, Zoomers are truth seekers, and they are looking to be loyal to brands that align with their values. They can cut through the noise quickly – so make sure your brand is transparent. Make sure your brand is transparent – your credibility is VERY important to Gen Z. The upside is the more real you are, the more open-minded they are than past generations if you make a mistake and take responsibility.
5. Utilize Influencer Marketing
We discuss this in episode #95 from Marketing and a Mic about 2023 Digital Trends. Influencer marketing is social media marketing that involves working with individuals with a considerable influence. They will help promote your product or service to their large following for a set fee.
Zoomers are guided by credible influencers and are more likely to purchase a product or service if it receives a stamp of approval from an Influencer they trust. In addition, many marketers benefit from influencers to help them reach an audience they don’t necessarily have direct pull with.
6. Tap into User-Generated Content
Do you know a Gen Z or 2? Given their constant quest for truth and realness, user-generated content often gets the best results with this target audience. To do this, start using pictures of real people, real customers, and real situations rather than generic images. Even better – use a Gen Zer to talk about your product or service.
If it’s genuine and fun, ask a Gen Z employee or customer and ask them to help you create content using their face and expertise in their own demographic. Inviting Gen Zers to participate in your marketing will create real transparency in your business. For example, 70% of Gen Zers say they are more likely to trust a company when it uses photos of real customers in its advertising.
7. Omni-Channel Marketing
If you have a Gen Z in your household, you know they love their devices. However, their shopping styles are not universal.
Zoomers shop online in a variety of ways, such as:
- YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok ads and live streams
- Email marketing (yes, it’s true)
- In-store shopping (social shopping is big)
- Social Media links – through stories, reels, and feeds
Using a blend of marketing channels and customized messaging will help to form genuine connections with this audience. Make sure all your ad messaging has a native look and feel. Clickbaity ads will flop fast.
One of our big takeaways is that this generation is not “soft.” The labels “snowflakes” and “afraid to work” do not apply here. They are quite intelligent consumers and aren’t afraid to work. Many will have side hustles to help with their savings and future. Gen Z value trust, connections, relatability, inclusivity, and value with their purchases.
Gen Z represents a large part of today’s consumers. If they are in your target marketing and you want them to buy from you, you need to listen. Those that understand what makes them unique from millennials and adjust their marketing strategies accordingly will succeed in the long run.
That’s it for “How to Market to Gen Z”! Don’t forget that our podcast also goes live on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and LinkedIn, and you can catch the replay on Instagram. You can also subscribe to our YouTube Channel for more resources to help your digital marketing plan.