Meredith Carter


Marketing to Gen Z in a Digital World

Getting a head start on marketing to Gen Z is like cracking the code for the future of your brand. Aged 12 to 27, connecting with this age group sets your business up to thrive in the next decade and beyond.

As the second digitally-native generation, Gen Z is even more immune to traditional marketing tactics than the preceding Millennials and perhaps more swayed by the voices of the online influencers who mirror their social conscience.

To successfully market to Gen Z, you must understand their unique digital habits and change the way you craft and deliver your marketing message. 

Nearly Half of Gen Z is Always Connected

We all spend too much time online and/or staring at our devices. But for Gen Z, few see this as a problem. Simply put, “always online” is what they grew up with. It’s not only normal, it’s necessary.

And so, as we run through this guide, it’s important to remember that connecting with Gen Z isn’t about catching them at the right time online with your advertisement, it’s about injecting your brand and your message into their ecosystem.

Gen Z lives online. It’s where they socialize, connect, build communities and learn. Whereas Millennials had online and offline friends, Gen Z just has friends – and while some are internet only and others aren’t, they are less likely to differentiate between the two. Their online life isn’t separate, online and offline are one in the same.

Being nearly always connected fundamentally shifts the way this generation interacts with the world, and understanding this new digital reality is vital.

Aligning Your Brand with Gen Z Ideologies

In continuation of the trend set by Millennials, Gen Z shoppers are not just buying products, they are investing in what a brand stands for and even more apt to be turned off by a flagrant sales pitch.

Forget about traditional sales copy techniques, strategy, and rules. Mission critical is presenting your brand as a leader in driving the change Gen Z hopes to see in the world. It’s time to get serious about social responsibility and sustainability, and even more serious about intertwining these values into the core and the crux of your brand story.

Actions Speak Louder than Words

Gen Z will spread the word on your behalf if your company acts when it really counts. An organic YouTube video showing your brand making a difference in something Gen Z believes in has the potential to outperform a well-crafted campaign designed to talk about the same cause.

Do, don’t say, and this generation will take notice.

YouTube, TikTok and the Rise of Influencers

For Gen Z, YouTube and TikTok are more than sources of quick bursts of entertainment, they are primary sources for information, insight and leadership. Video platforms are not regurgitating this generations’ Zeitgeist, they are creating it, from the ground up.

To include your brand in this Gen Z’s world view, you must participate in the new video reality. There is simply no way around it. Video is King, Queen and the whole court.

While investing real dollars into specific influencer partnerships for branding may or may not be a smart move, what is effective is creating your own authentic content that follows a similar recipe, with the key word being authentic. Gen Z sees through a cloud of fluff in an instant. You must be genuine or you’ll do more damage than good.

User-Generated Content as Marketing Gold

Bridging the gap between authentic content and a brand that is accustomed to building traditional marketing campaigns is often achieved by leveraging user-generated content (UGC)

A game-changer for connecting with Gen Z, UGC blends authenticity and co-creation to spark engagement with your target audience while disseminating valuable social proof. Approximately three-quarters of brand-conscious Gen Z consumers find UGC highly influential, as it allows viewers to see products and services used by peers in real situations with true, unbiased reviews.

Looking for ways to encourage customers to create UGC can change the way Gen Z interacts with your brand.

Building on Online Community for Your Brand

Inviting Gen Z in to be a part of your brand narrative is a fantastic strategy for building a genuine bond between consumers and your company. Young consumers value the opportunity to express themselves online and are open to participating in online communities surrounding a product or brand when topics of discussion resonate.

Don’t be afraid to open your social platforms up to talking about social issues that matter to young people, so long as your company is willing to share authentic, thoughtful opinions on the subject. 

While there is a tightrope to be walked in terms of avoiding controversial issues that could divide your audience, standing up for what you believe in can send shockwaves across the internet – provided that your brand does legitimately hold the beliefs you purport it to.

Catering to Short Attention Spans

Content creation must be clever and engaging when hoping to catch the eye and hold the attention and focus of Gen Z consumers. Think interactive elements like polls, quizzes, or augmented reality experiences.

Instagram Reels offer a perfect format for quick yet impactful messages that resonate with Gen Z, where visuals and brevity win the day.

Quick Tips for Marketing to Gen Z

  • Use familiar communication: Speak with Gen Z like you’re talking to a real person
  • Avoid “sales pitch” type language at all costs
  • Never go straight in for the sell
  • Themes such as mental health and work-life balance appeal to Gen Z
  • Be transparent in all messaging
  • The comment section is your friend, be there to write back
  • Identify and amplify your brand’s beliefs and values
  • Tap into FOMO with time-sensitive offers
  • Leverage feedback and reviews as USG
  • Create content like you are a creator, not a marketer

Mastering Marketing to Gen Z is about Understanding Their Digital World

Make your brand a part of Gen Z’s digital circle. 

This is a generation that will champion brands that mirror their values and make them feel part of a story, so invite them in to be part of your community and don’t be afraid to use the UGC they create and share as marketing collateral.

If there’s a catch-all phrase for marketing to Gen Z, it’s “be interactive.”

If you need help, our talented team of creatives and strategists is here to help your company create a plan for connecting today with tomorrow’s movers and shakers.

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