It’s not a phase, mom! Why marketing to Generation Z might not be as difficult as you thought it was

Neo-digital natives. The social generation. Lazy? Welcome to Generation Z.

An interesting article published by Marketing Week claimed that older marketers (members of Generation X, specifically) were struggling to connect with consumers under 25 – the coveted Generation Z. 

Now, because I’m sarcastic, a bit of a smart-arse, and was lucky enough to be born into Generation Z, this was what came to mind:

via GIPHY

If you are struggling with your brand’s relationship with young people, never fear; I am here to help. Regardless of if you’re a Baby Boomer, Generation X or even Generation Y (aka Millennials), it is possible for your brand to form a meaningful relationship with your Gen Z audience – even if you’re not sure how.

Move over Millennials, because there’s a new generation in town. 

(We’re like you – but worse).

Who is Generation Z?

Before we get into the good stuff, it’s worth going back to basics, and covering the fundamentals that makeup Generation Z. (Spoiler: this is where I show my age).

For starters, Generation Z is the proportion of the population born between 1995 and 2015. We’re currently between the age of 4 and 24. The older cohort of Gen Z (myself included) have only just started entering the workplace – and apparently, managers are still unsure of how we’re going to adapt.

Generation Z has dethroned Millennials to become the largest living generation – making up over 32% of the population and by 2020, we’ll account for up to 40% of all customers. 

All good, isn’t it? 

Is it possible to market to Generation Z?

Let’s be realistic, that’s a bit of a stupid question. Of course it’s possible to market to Generation Z – we’re like Millennials, but pickier. We may be notoriously cynical and distrustful of older generations – our parents are Generation X, after all – but if your brand can pique our interests, we’ll reward you with custom and loyalty.

I’ve highlighted some of the best ways you can tailor your marketing efforts to suit the needs of your younger audience:

Earn their attention with an authentic social media presence

The primary way that you can earn the trust and respect of Generation Z is by capturing their attention. Granted, this takes time and work, but you’ll be rewarded if you’re successful. 

Generation Z absorbs information through social media and the internet. Ensuring that your brand’s presence is continuously felt on these platforms is vital – and staying on top of the latest trends is just as important. 

Sure, the average Gen-Z may have a Facebook account – but they’re not using it. Like I said in my last blog, utilising non-traditional advertising methods, like Instagram stories, could be the key to opening up your brand to under-25s. Plus, the average Gen Z is spending more than three hours a day online – and more than half-an-hour of that is just flicking through Instagram stories alone

Being active on social media will also help reinforce the authenticity of your brand. Many members of Generation Z will only interact with brands and businesses who advocate a similar cause to those they follow. Today’s young people are well-informed, and know their beliefs – don’t underestimate them. 

Brands need to utilise influencer marketing

In the information age, it’s possible for anyone to become an influencer. From celebrity endorsements to niche micro-influencers – choosing to work with these individuals is a vital way of winning over Generation Z, and drawing them to your brand. 

It’s also worth making sure your brand works with a range of diverse individuals who advocate a similar cause to what you stand for (and shares the same values). It’s pointless wasting money on a deal with a ‘celebrity’ – young people won’t necessarily be drawn to your products just because you’re working with someone who you’ve deemed ‘cool’.

Many micro-influencers are held in high respect by their following, so make sure that you’re creating long-term relationships that are mutually beneficial to both your brand and the influencer. Making sure that your brand helps, not hinders, the relationship the influencer has with their audience is just as important as ensuring that they’re the right fit for your brand.  

Build valuable relationships

Like I’ve already said: Generation Z spends more than three hours a day online, and that’s almost solely spent on mobile. We’ve never known life without the internet (and never had to suffer dial-up), so it’s essential to keep these facts in mind when working on marketing campaigns to attract younger audiences to your brand.

As the guys at Medium cleverly put it: “Gen Z doesn’t want a deal; they want a relationship”. Your brand needs to be working with its audience as much as it’s working with influencers and other businesses. Keep in mind that customers are going to be sharing their reviews on social media platforms like Instagram – sharing these opinions back on the brand’s main account is a fundamental way of building that relationship.

Plus, utilising user-generated content can help you discover the kind of content that your audience wants to see, and can help shape your future strategies.    

So, are the kids alright? 

Like Millennials and Generation X before them, Gen Z has been hit with the same exhausted tropes. It’s true – we’re lazy, addicted to our phones and have a small attention span

But, recent research has revealed that we’re not all bad – societally, we drink less and take fewer drugs. So, while we’re more sensible, this doesn’t mean that other age groups can’t connect with us.  

The key to attracting a Generation Z audience is – much like Jon Snow – to admit that your brand knows nothing. Marketing to Generation Z will ultimately become more natural as they enter the workplace, and start imparting their values onto campaigns.

In the meantime? Our tips are a great place to start.

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