Strategies for Marketing to Generation Z

Get 9 tips for marketing to Generation Z — a purpose-driven generation that prefers to engage with brands via social media, values authenticity and, yes, still checks their email.

Photo of Generation Z on mobile phones, laptops and tablets.
Published: 11.20.2019

Marketing tactics designed to speak to audiences born after 1995 (24 and younger) aren’t that different from those designed for millennials. Both audiences value purpose-driven brands, have limited attention spans due to all the marketing noise they face each day and both grew up with social media. But contrary to claims that Gen Z’ers have no time or attention for advertising, they are able to focus on ads — they’re just more discerning. And this discernment is why many rely on influencers to share about their favorite products and services before they invest. So how do you market to the generation that doesn’t watch commercials, doesn’t value direct mail and mostly rely on friends and influencers to make product choices?

9 things to know when marketing to Generation Z

  1. Generation Z responds to clever and concise media. They use multiple social media platforms and check their emails several times throughout the day. In order to get them to pay attention to your marketing messages, subject lines, captions and graphics you have to be clever, concise and stand out visually. They want to identify with modern products and companies.
  1. Gen Z’ers are prone to influence. Members of Generation Z see so many ads every day that they’re beginning to rely more on the recommendations of influencers they respect than brands themselves to tell them which products to buy. An influencer has existing popularity online that they can use to recommend your product or service to sway your target audience. Investing in a progressive marketing strategy and incorporating influencers is essential if you want to capture the attention of this generation.
  1. Generation Z values purpose. This is the generation marching in the streets to speak out against climate change. They value purpose-driven, ethical companies and they are willing to spend time and money talking about the companies they love as well as the companies that are falling short. Make sure your mission and vision is front and center, values are transparent and messaging is consistent. In order to buy-in, Gen Z’ers need to know you’ve made commitments to the future of their generation. 
  1. Gen Z’ers are engaged. Because this generation is outspoken about their values and committed to supporting purpose-driven companies, they’re prime for engaging as brand ambassadors. Many companies have developed brand ambassador programs to engage their customers and reward them on an ongoing basis for sharing how much they love certain products. And since Gen Z’ers trust their friends, this is the perfect way to amplify your message without a focus on traditional advertising methods.
  1. Gen Z'ers are attentive to their mobile devices. Like millennials and Gen X’ers, Generation Z uses their mobile devices for keeping in touch with friends and family, doing business, shopping and documenting their lives. But this generation often uses their devices to shop online. Ensuring your website is optimized for mobile is paramount to keeping this audience engaged.
  1. Generation Z sticks to social media for customer service. This generation is far too busy to visit the customer service page on your website. They go straight for the DM’s (direct messages). Be sure your social media management team is armed with enough staff to respond instantly and consistently while maintaining brand voice. You may want to consider investing in research to learn which messages and customer service styles this audience responds to. A firm like ours can help.
  1. Gen Z'ers check their email. Campaign Monitor shares that, “A majority of our respondents check email regularly, with 81% saying they check their email at least once a day. Clearly, Gen Z continues to value email as a valid and important method of communication.” Because the majority receives fewer than 20 emails per day but checks multiple times, email marketing that’s specifically catered to them, could go a long way. ‘Catered’ is key here, as they are less likely to respond to blanket marketing emails. They should be segmented based on their particular needs and interests. Developing email drip campaigns with a solid marketing strategy can help with this, and so can we. 
  1. Choice matters to Generation Z. While Gen Z’ers don’t mind receiving emails, they want to be able to select topics and frequency. Creating a preference center for email subscriptions allows this audience to feel in control of how many sales messages they’re getting inundated with. Having this control means they’re less likely to unsubscribe or, worse, send your company’s emails to spam.
  1. Gen Z needs a different online shopping experience. This generation appreciates the in-person experience, but they primarily shop online. This means that your online store needs to offer something different than your competitor. Consider including the following if you don’t already — create an interactive landing page that allows this audience to immediately identify company purpose, product value, and easy navigation options; incorporate video into your photo options on product pages in order to show your products in action; include testimonials on product pages; use influencers to write guest blog posts that are featured on product pages; and create reward opportunities for customers who are willing to share about their product or experience on social media.

Marketing to Generation Z requires strategy. Partner with a firm experienced in research, big brand marketing and tailored digital messaging — see what Sanger & Eby can do for you.

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