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BusinessHow to Market to Gen Z

Wielding $360 billion in spending power, Generation Z (Gen Z) is already a massive part of the economy, and as more and more of them enter the workforce as they grow older, that number is still rapidly increasing. Understanding the driving forces behind their purchases is crucial for brands seeking to tap into this market. Here are some suggestions I’ve compiled from my experience at a marketing agency and as a Gen Zer myself.

It often make reference to pop culture and the latest internet jokes, allowing our readers to have a place to learn and develop a sense of community.

Market Your Values, But Also Practice What You Preach

Facing what seems to be unending economic, social, and environmental turmoil, in combination with being exposed to all of it through a constant stream of social media and 24/7 news cycles, my generation has become passionate about many global and local causes, and it has translated into their purchasing decisions. To fully tap into the Gen Z market, brands must transition from the state of being passive, politically indifferent entities to becoming supporters of a variety of social and environmental causes.

That’s not to say that a business has to wade into political and social issues to the point that they essentially became full-fledged PR representatives for certain politicians or causes. Mike Lindell, CEO of My Pillow, did in early 2021 when he began to publicly decry the 2020 presidential election as fraudulent. Several retailers pulled My Pillow products from their stores shortly afterward. The risk of becoming too political is that you possibly alienate half of your potential customers and face massive public backlash.

Rather, a brand can focus on issues important to them that are less political, but still significant. Here are some values and causes that can show Gen Z that your brand cares:

  • Education
  • Poverty
  • Mental Health
  • Sustainability
  • Malnutrition
  • Hunger
  • And more

Brands can run campaigns where a certain portion of profits are donated to certain nonprofits, or they can simply choose to raise awareness about these issues through social media posts.

However, this can still be a double-edged sword if a company does not practice what it preaches. My generation is astute and is always making sure that a business’s support for social causes isn’t just a marketing ploy. For instance, if a company claims to have diversity as one of its core values, but doesn’t reflect that in its hiring practices, it immediately sets off a red flag.

In short, make sure your business practices what it preaches. Here are the values that Gen Z cares about the most.

Always Remember the 8-Second Rule

8 seconds. That’s the attention span of your average Gen Z consumer due to the 24/7 news cycle and all the unique content we come across on a daily basis. The best way to tap into this is through short-form video content/ads. This was epitomized by Vine’s instant success and popularity, where videos were no longer than 6-seconds. Then came TikTok, Instagram Reels, Facebook Stories, and so on.

As a brand, you must make whatever content you’re producing to be as catchy and to the point as possible within that time frame. My generation constantly sees ads and content of all kinds, and we have become experts at ignoring 99% of what we see. At the first hint of irrelevant fluff, most Gen Z consumers will turn away.

On TikTok, and to a certain extent Instagram, ads targeting Gen Z doesn’t necessarily have to have the highest-quality video production. Many video ads often look like someone just set up their phone in the living room to talk about a certain product or service. To us, it gives a more authentic feel to the advertisement. It looks like a normal, everyday person is trying to have a conversation about a new product they just found and loved. This kind of content is still just ass catchy.

In addition to video content, incorporating interactive content is a great way to engage consumers. Polls or asking consumers on social media to share a post using hashtags or to comment on it for a chance to win a giveaway. Twitter and Instagram are a great place for polls, and Instagram also has other interactive features on their Stories.

It often make reference to pop culture and the latest internet jokes, allowing our readers to have a place to learn and develop a sense of community.

Keep it Humorous

Humor as a marketing tool has been used regardless of the target demographic for as long as marketing has been around. For Gen Z specifically, their humor tends to revolve around nonsensical jokes, irony, brand self-awareness, dark humor, and memes. Here are some tweets by corporate Twitter accounts:

Unless you’re on top of meme culture and cultural trends, these references probably don’t make any sense. That’s why it’s so important to know what’s currently funny and what’s not. Jokes, memes, and references are constantly evolving and changing. What’s funny today may not be funny in a week.

At this point, I, and all other Gen Z, are able to look at an ad that’s meant to be funny and aimed at a Gen Z audience and tell whether it was actually made by a Gen Zer. Ads that fail at being funny to Gen Z because it was made by someone who doesn’t really understand the humor will turn us away. It’s best to have a member of your marketing team who is part of Gen Z and who is able to keep up with the trends.

Tell a Story

One of my favorite ad campaigns is Nike’s Find Your Greatness. Each of the videos in this campaign explores greatness in a relatable way. It shows the audience that greatness isn’t some grand, esoteric goal that’s unattainable; it’s something that lives within our everyday lives in our actions and habits. Most of the people featured in the videos are in their teens or people in their early twenties, which is why it’s so powerful for a Gen Z audience. We are in a time in our lives when we are insecure about our potential and what we’ll be able to achieve as we grow older. It’s a simple story with a relevant and impactful message

Another story can be one about connecting with others and building a community. There are countless statistics about my generation being the loneliest one. Perhaps it’s being glued to social media and virtual relationships. Perhaps it’s all worldly problems we face that have made us want to sink into ourselves. Or perhaps it’s a combination of all these things.

Ultimately, a powerful and relatable story is a surefire way to build trust and interest in your brand.

It often make reference to pop culture and the latest internet jokes, allowing our readers to have a place to learn and develop a sense of community.

Wrapping Up

At the end of the day, Gen Z is a unique generation growing up in a digital landscape. Brands must learn to adapt to this digital landscape if they want to have any success in reaching them.

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