A generation marked by Internet memes and the Covid pandemic, Gen Z can somehow still be a mystery to digital marketers.
What do they even like?
Memes about moths? Nicholas Cage? Social justice?
Gen Z marketing is as weird as it gets, sometimes.
So we try to shine a light on this strange, strange target audience by doing what we do best: Conducting extensive research and analysing the ins and outs of anyone born between 1996 and 2010.
While the Gen Z landscape may be challenging for marketers to navigate, it is also brimming with opportunities.
Those who can crack the code and tap into the interests, values, and preferences of this generation will find themselves at the forefront of a powerful market segment.
Gen Z may be weird, but their potential as consumers and agents of change is undeniable. It’s time for marketers to embrace the weirdness and unlock the vast potential that lies within this mysterious generation.
What is Gen Z?
By definition, Gen Z is anyone born between 1996 and 2010. This means that if you are marketing to anyone aged 13 to 26 at the time of writing, congratulations, you are marketing to Gen Z!
What events have shaped Gen Z as we know it?
Just like Baby Boomers have been marked by a post-war world and the giant economic boom that followed it (hence the name, Boomer), millennials have lived through 9/11 and everything that followed it, Gen Z also lived through some important historical events that shaped their behaviour.
Here are the most important ones:
- School shootings, such as Columbine or Virginia Tech.
- Social Justice Movements, such as Black Lives Matter or the #MeToo movement.
- The climate crisis and the impending danger surrounding global warming.
- The Covid-19 pandemic.
What is the difference in marketing between Gen Z and other generations?
Gen Z emerged from the womb with a smartphone in their hand. Nowadays, it’s pretty normal to see a 13-year-old rocking a mobile device that costs 4 times as much as yours.
So get ready to push your online presence to the next level if you really want to market to the weird generation.
Short attention spans
Let me make it clear:
Quick bursts of content.
They work well.
Do it short.
You have one second to impress these goldfish on a sugar rush. So GET TO THE POINT ALREADY!
These Gen Z have a built-in BS detector, looks like. So drop the salesy jargon, it’s such a boomer thing to do!
So don’t you dare try to sound like a business! They want to see the human side of your brand, not just fancy ads.
Get a load of meme culture if you want to speak with Gen Z. You’ll likely see Shrek, Obama in an Iron Man suit, Walter White and other completely random pop icons that for some reason make Gen Z roll with laughter.
Just so you understand how broken their humour is, this post was once the most trending thing on Reddit’s meme side. I am Gen Z too, and I don’t get it either…
Extensive use of Social Media
Forget traditional advertising. Gen Z lives and breathes social media.
If your brand isn’t active on platforms like Instagram, TikTok, and Snapchat, you might as well be living in the Stone Age. Engage, collaborate, and create shareable moments that make them go, “Gotta share this!”
Recommended read: 5 common problems with TikTok advertising and how to fix them
These are the strategies you need to follow to target Gen Z the right way:
#1 Forget about Facebook
Ah, Facebook, the grandparent of social media platforms, struggling to keep up with the cool kids of Gen Z. Let’s dive into why this generation is giving Facebook the cold shoulder and seeking greener digital pastures.
Statistics tell the tale:
- According to a recent survey, only 9% of Gen Z consider Facebook their favourite social media platform. Ouch, that’s like being the last kid picked for the dodgeball team.
- Hey, Mark Zuckerberg, did you know that over 40% of Gen Z surveyed said they hardly use Facebook at all?
- TikTok, the Gen Z sensation, has now surpassed Facebook in popularity among this age group. Sorry, Facebook, you’ve been out-danced by Gen Z’s catchy challenges and lip-syncing talents.
Facebook feels like a family reunion where you’re forced to interact with distant relatives you don’t really like. Gen Z prefers platforms that allow them to curate their own social circles, and Facebook’s friend list just doesn’t cut it.
The older generation’s presence on Facebook is a major turn-off for Gen Z.
The notorious “Facebook is for old people” reputation doesn’t help. Gen Z wants to be where the action is, and Facebook’s struggle to stay relevant in the fast-paced digital landscape just doesn’t cut it.
On top of that, privacy concerns make Gen Z wary.
With scandals and data breaches, they want platforms that prioritize their security and won’t sell their personal information like a dodgy market vendor.
#2 Don’t take yourself too seriously
To Gen Z, there’s nothing quite as enjoyable as a brand that comes across as completely authentic and regularly pokes fun at itself through jokes, memes and enjoyable interactions with the customers.
A brilliant example of this is Wendy’s, an American burger chain that became a worldwide sensation thanks to a snappy, snarky and witty social media team that always knows when it’s time to roast a burger, and when it’s time to roast a customer.
Gen Z loves to share viral content that makes them laugh or feel a sense of connection. By not taking yourself too seriously, you create shareable moments that spread like wildfire across social media platforms.
Remember the Ice Bucket Challenge?
The viral sensation raised awareness for ALS while providing hilarious videos of people drenching themselves in ice-cold water.
It became a cultural phenomenon and a testament to the power of light-heartedness for a good cause.
#3 Pick a social cause and follow it religiously
Gen Z is a group driven by purpose. So the most important aspect of Gen Z marketing is perhaps this one, and if you had to follow just one of the suggestions we give you in this article, let it be this one.
Pick a social cause and follow it religiously.
Fight against climate change, racism, sexism, homophobia, save the bees, or support fairtrade… It’s completely up to you.
Recent real-world events, such as the global Black Lives Matter movement, climate change activism led by Greta Thunberg, and LGBTQ+ rights advocacy, have sparked a heightened awareness and desire for change among Gen Z.
However, this generation wants more than empty promises. They demand authenticity, gratification, transparency, and tangible action from brands. By aligning with a social cause, you demonstrate your commitment to making a difference.
Patagonia, the outdoor clothing company, has long been admired for its environmental activism. From supporting grassroots organisations to donating a portion of its profits to conservation efforts, Patagonia’s actions have earned the trust and loyalty of environmentally conscious Gen Z consumers.
In the new economy, the money will follow your values. In the future, we may see companies transitioning from traditional marketing to a new form of marketing where businesses may hire specialists capable of utilising their resources to better support their cause of choice.
Who knows? This may well be the next big thing.
#4 Use short-form content to your advantage
What is Gen Z’s most consumed type of content? According to this research, it’s actually short videos.
Whether it’s TikTok dances or Instagram reels, videos between 5 seconds and 1 minute, up to 10 minutes in a YouTube video, are the most powerful types of content out there.
So is it time to reinvest your content marketing budget into video content marketing?
We definitely think so.
Gen Z grew up in the era of visual content and scrolling feeds. Short videos allow for visual storytelling, combining images, music, captions, and sometimes even special effects to convey messages and narratives in a concise and engaging format. This visual appeal resonates with Gen Z’s preference for immersive and captivating experiences.
#5 The secret strategy to Gen Z marketing…
…is actually not so secret after all.
This specific form of digital marketing is:
- 60% more effective than content marketing
- 40% cheaper than PPC
- A guarantee you’ll actually earn back your money and some more if you are targeting Gen Z
And that is influencer marketing.
Influencer marketing is the most powerful marketing strategy for small to medium-sized businesses that target Gen Z.
The era of traditional advertising is fading away, making room for the reign of influencer marketing. By tapping into the influential voices that Gen Z trusts and follows, you can skyrocket your brand’s success. Don’t miss out on this golden opportunity to captivate, connect, and convert Gen Z consumers. Embrace the power of influencer marketing and watch your business thrive, all while saving your precious marketing budget. Get in on the secret strategy that’s not so secret anymore, and let the influencers pave the way to Gen Z’s hearts and wallets.
Do you want to learn more? Read all about influencer marketing trends.