A few weeks ago, we posted an article summarizing effective marketing strategies for each generation. This week we’re diving deeper into the fastest growing consumer population in the U.S., Generation Z (also known as Centennials or iGen). In this article, we’ll go over who is Gen-Z, how they differ from past generations, plus specific strategies for marketers looking to appeal to the Gen-Z audience.
But before we dive in, it’s important to know who we’re talking about first.
Who is Generation Z?
It’s not an exact science determining when a new generation begins, but general consensus (backed up by a Pew Research study) is that Generation Z includes anyone born after 1997. Making up almost 30% of the US population, this generation is the most ethnically diverse and tech-savvy.
Born in a world with technology at their fingertips, it’s no surprise that Gen Z spends on average 3 hours on social media daily. This generation is digitally nimble, jumping onto new digital trends with ease and propelling viral content forward.
The millions of young people that make up Generation Z are a fascinating bunch – but they’re notoriously hard to market to. Too often, marketers lump Millennials and Centennials together, expecting the strategies that work for one to work for the other. But marketing experts are beginning to understand that Gen Z requires their own unique digital marketing road map.
Develop a Purpose-Driven Brand
Centennials care deeply about social, economic, and environmental justice. And, they want to support brands that feel the same way. 45% make a conscious effort to choose brands that are eco-friendly and socially responsible.
So how can your business tap into this? If your brand doesn’t already have a mission statement, that would be a good place to start.
Examine your business and the greater community it serves. How can you be a force for good? Once you’ve established that, communicate that mission across your social channels.
Outdoor brand Patagonia is a shining example of how to integrate purpose-driven marketing into your social strategy. Through Instagram, the brand shares short video clips that highlight various environmental concerns, and invite their audience to join in the discussion.
Obvious influencer #advertisements are not the key to Gen Z’s heart. This generation continuously pushes the status quo forward as thought leaders in digital originality, as should your brand.
Your content strategy should include video and Instagram Stories. A healthy mix of user-generated content is crucial, too. In fact, 46% agree that recommendations from friends strongly influence their purchase decisions.
Leave the Sales Pitches at the Door
Want to know one of Gen Z’s biggest pet peeves? Obvious advertisements. There’s a reason ad blocker usage is on the rise. Young people are able to spot an ad a mile away.
What works with Generation Z, is offering up a solid brand value. Create informative, engaging social content that answers common questions, provides inspiration, and tackles issues near and dear to their hearts.
These days, young people not only flock to social media to share curated daily moments with their friends, they go there for entertainment. From the Instagram Explore page to the recommended video lists on YouTube, social media is a place not just to publish and create, but to consume and interact.
To capitalize on this, create interactive content that engages users. Instagram Story polls, TikTok challenges, and the YouTube live chat feature are all ways to add an interactive and memorable element to your content.
Just like how Gen Z can sniff out ads in their sleep, they also have a good nose for inauthenticity. If you want to attract and retain a Gen Z audience, you’ll want to approach your brand messaging in a way that’s honest, simple, and genuine.
Take Dove for example: their multichannel Self Esteem Project aims to “help the next generation of women realize their full potential”, a mission that bleeds out into all of the brand’s social messaging. And, it’s working. Since this shift toward more positive, authentic branding, Dove has seen a 1.5 billion increase in sales.
Along with embracing a more authentic brand strategy, marketers should consider the power of local and “micro” influencers to help grow their brand. Research shows it’s the smaller Instagram influencer accounts that actually receive the most user engagement.
Embrace “Dark Social”
We promise, It’s not as creepy as it sounds. Essentially, it describes the recent shift many Gen-Zers are taking from open social platforms like Facebook and Twitter to more private platforms like WhatsApp. Concerns over digital privacy, ‘cancel-culture’, and other social media driven controversies have led many to take their conversations elsewhere – much to the dismay of brands who rely on the ability to trace social media traffic.
But, there are clever ways brands are starting to utilize so-called dark social platforms to their advantage. Some, like PlayStation, have created branded gifs for users to share on these platforms, while others have started dedicated online forums to spark discussions and build communities.
Importance of Gen Z for Businesses
By the end of the year, Gen Z is projected to account for 40% of all consumers, a staggering number that will continue to grow. That’s why learning how to effectively market to this group is so vital for companies who want to stay relevant in this increasingly digital-centric market.
Want to enhance your social media strategy by growing your brand awareness through word-of-mouth marketing?