How to Effectively Market to Gen Z

Written by: 
Mia McKee

Gen Z, the generation born between 1996 and 2012, is a unique and important cohort to which companies should be marketing. Most social media influencers are a part of this group and are important opinion-makers when it comes to fashion, beauty, technology, and other categories. This group has grown up in a unique environment: one of post-9/11 security, cyber-attacks, climate disasters, and unrestricted access to digital information at any time. And with an estimated $143 billion estimated buying power, businesses can’t afford to ignore them.


Emphasize Corporate Social Responsibility and Authenticity


Because of the environment in which they grew up, Gen Z leans overwhelmingly towards companies that are socially and environmentally conscious. In fact, a recent poll found that over half of Gen Zers will always ensure that the companies from which they purchase align with their social, environmental, and political values. However, the same poll found that nearly half of Gen Z tends not to trust the average American company. So, companies need to not only communicate their values, they need to demonstrate their values through actions.


Gen Z wants to be sure they are getting a good product and are less likely to be swayed by gimmicks. Gen Z lists product quality, positive ratings, and customer reviews as the top 3 characteristics they check for when deciding whether or not to trust a brand. Another way companies can advertise authentically is to incorporate real customers and their testimonials in advertisements. A great way to develop a more authentic brand in the eyes of Gen Z is to focus on responsiveness and interaction. Nearly half of Gen Z consumers report that they would submit ideas to brands if given the opportunity. Marketers would be wise to capitalize on this willingness to develop a brand-consumer relationship and open up the floor for these young consumers to communicate their ideas.


Incorporate Non-Traditional Advertising Methods


Although Gen Z consumes more content than any other generation, marketers should not mistake their consumption for attention. In actuality, 82% of Gen Zers report that they skip ads as fast as they can when given the option to. When they aren’t given the option to skip, Gen Zers physically do something else while the ad runs, use third-party software to block ads in the first place, or simply ignore the ad. Marketers who desire success with Gen Z should create short, attention-grabbing videos to display on YouTube and TikTok, two channels overwhelmingly composed of Gen Z users. Marketers should also keep in mind the average attention span of Gen Z, which is about 8 seconds. While Millennials only have a slightly longer average attention span of 12 seconds, it is especially important to demonstrate your brand’s value to Gen Z as succinctly and effectively as possible.


It is also increasingly important to advertise through social media, especially in the form of influencers. Gen Z reports trusting “micro-influencers'' much more than celebrities. Micro-influencers are individuals with 1,000 to 1,000,000 followers who are considered experts in their niche. Reviews and product recommendations from these opinion leaders can feel like a recommendation from a friend and appear much more authentic than a celebrity endorsement. More than 80% of Gen Z are influenced by social media, primarily Instagram, Snapchat, and YouTube when making purchases. Because Gen Z is so eager to skip traditional ads, a great way to market to them authentically is through their favorite social media accounts. Roughly a third of Gen Z says that their purchases are influenced by YouTube, especially review videos. TikTok, Snapchat stories, and Instagram reels are also effective channels for video ads.


As this generation continues to mature and obtain more buying power, companies will do well to maintain strong ethical convictions, make use of micro-influencers who have a high engagement rate, and incorporate quick and effective video ads. It will be interesting to see how this generation’s buying habits change and how the next generation, Generation Alpha, will decide how to make purchases. 


Does your company need help marketing to Gen Z, or any generation for that matter? The digital marketing landscape is constantly changing, and Relevance Advisors prides itself on staying up-to-date and effective. We would love to see your company thrive. Reach out today!

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