Okay so, maybe don’t scratch everything, but DEFINITELY toss any rigid ideas you or your company have about the “right” way to market because Gen Z is here, and things are going to get… weird.
In a generation where trends come and go faster than ever, creating dynamic and adaptable marketing strategies is the only way to keep up. These strategies must be able to generate bold advertising that still connects with an audience that doesn’t take itself very seriously. And we really don’t.
Speaking as someone right in the center of Gen Z, I am not drawn in by generic marketing strategies. Corporate pandering and phony promises to consumers are not the way to appeal to this younger audience. As we strive to hold ourselves more accountable when being fake or performative, we expect the same from the companies we support.
And this support will look differently than before. Buying from a business can happen instantaneously through Instagram or TikTok, and even personalized influencer Amazon storefronts. Online buying and advertising with technology is how we have grown up, so utilizing social media advertising is a must for targeting Gen Z buyers. Let’s take a dive into Gen-Z and the values they take into their purchases.
Who is Gen-Z?
Before you think about how to market to them, we should first talk about what makes Gen-Z unique. Gen-Z (aka the “zoomers”) are anyone born from the mid-90’s to 2010. We’re the generation that has grown up with iPhones and smart TV’s. A generation that may or may not remember Vines. A generation that definitely did not use MySpace and probably only has a Facebook to post photos for their grandparents. Have you heard the term “iPad Kid”? It’s a status we hold with pride.
Technology has been a staple in our lives since we were young (and has followed us through our cringey middle-school years), which means the internet knows us, and we know it. Social media, whether it be voting in Instagram story polls about what a friend should eat or following oddly specific meme pages, is completely inseparable from our identity. It’s no wonder why studies are showing that Gen-Z is turning more to TikTok than Google searches when looking things up. This creates both new challenges and new opportunities for marketers looking to reach this audience.
Getting Gen-Z on board
It’s more than just a product
Sure, your product has great features and serves a purpose. It may be an ingenious design unlike anything before it… but that still might not be enough to win over this generation.
So why? To Gen-Z consumers, buying a product is synonymous with endorsing it. And no one wants to endorse a product made by a company with questionable morals. The way we see it, by buying a product, you use your money to support not only the product, but the people behind it. That might seem like an overly complicated way to view consumerism, but Gen-Z is adamant on socially and environmentally conscious purchases. In fact, most members of Gen-Z want to see concrete evidence of businesses making positive societal impacts. Going green, social inequality, and discrimination are all key issues that Gen-Z buyers care about.
Zoomers want to make a change and are going to support a business who has the same drive. Whether a company is openly supporting LGBTQ rights or mental health movements, a buyer is going to feel closer to that company (and more likely to support it) knowing that they have similar views. By building a company image with strong values and action to back these values up, a business can make a positive statement (one that Gen-Z buyers will eagerly get behind). We want to support a company who will help to make a change. Give us the opportunity.
Put a face to the name
It’s no secret that influencers have completely taken over the social media space. Because of their prevalence, whether it be on TikTok, Instagram, YouTube, or all of the above, businesses can find influencers to endorse their products in a uniquely authentic way. Gen-Z buyers want to buy products that were recommended to them, not advertised to them. By allowing micro-influencers with specific communities to market your products, you can indirectly build trust with Gen-Z followers. And these followers value authentic influencers who really care about the products they make content about. When choosing social media pages to collaborate with in marketing campaigns, it is important to find spokespeople that represent your brand and your brands values. It seems like everyone is an influencer these days, and this can be a great advantage when seeking representatives. Be as picky as you need to find the perfect matches for your business brand.
Be inclusive; Go broad or go home
A great way to get your business called out (or even canceled) by Gen-Z is to be unnecessarily exclusive. Time and time again companies make this mistake: make-up companies get criticized for not showing their products on a wide-range of skin tones, clothing lines don’t show how their pieces look on different body-types, etc. When it comes to gaining Gen-Z support, being as inclusive as possible can help in the long run. To stay inclusive, avoid using any stereotypes. Don’t market to specific genders, races, or sexual orientations.
Marketing just got a little more difficult
Marketing a single product is still doable, but realistically, Gen-Z wants to support a company. If a company supports something that we don’t, even if they have a great product, we’ll probably find somewhere else to shop. We’re the generation of change, and we want to put our money in the right places. Being open about the goals and stances of your company can come a long way when it comes to a Gen-Z audience.