Industry News

A Beginner’s Guide to Marketing to Gen-Z

Oh, Millennials! Marketers have long been thinking about how to successfully advertise to this much-discussed demographic. And it’s safe to say that we’ve made major strides in learning how to target a Millennial buyer… so it’s time to move on to the next group: Gen-Z.

Let’s start with the basics. Who is Gen-Z?

First thing’s first: you need to know that they are even more tech-savvy than their Millennial counterparts (they don’t know life without laptop computers and cellphones, after all), and they are consumers who really have high expectations for the brands they interact with.

However, these high expectations are offset by one of the most valuable aspects of the Gen-Z market: they’ll become a brand evangelist — and advertise their experience on all of their social channels — if you make them happy.

But back to the facts.

  • Gen-Z’ers are born between the mid-90’s up until 2010, give or take
  • In 2015, Gen-Z made up 25% of the US population
  • Their parents are mostly Gen-X; some Millennials
  • Research suggests that Gen-Z’ers have a unique character distinction as they experienced the Great Recession and 9/11 during their formative years.
  • They’re 25% more likely to admit they are addicted to their devices compared to Millennials
  • This generation is known for a particular set of characteristics, according to Generation-Z Goes to College:
    • Loyal
    • Compassionate
    • Thoughtful
    • Open-minded
    • Determined 

How do we transform this information into tangible concepts for our marketing strategy?

Multiple studies have alluded to the element of “loyalty” in the Gen-Z demographic. You might immediately think, “oh! Great! Once I get them hooked on my brand, they’ll stay with me forever!” … but it’s not that easy. Gen-Z has higher expectations than Millennials, simply from growing up so entrenched in a technological environment, that they take tech for granted. In other words, what might seem like a game-changing idea in your boardroom is likely to be a run-of-the-mill update when it hits the market.

To add to this, executive director of Growth Strategy at Ernst & Young, Marcie Merriman, assures that “[Gen-Z] expect businesses, brands and retailers to be loyal to them. If they don’t feel appreciated, they’re going to move on.” Now, as for the recession factor: this is something that aligns Gen-Z to Millennials. The byproduct of the recession was an emerging trend to favor “experiences” over mere “products.” As a result, your brand is expected to offer way more than just shoes. Ask yourself: how do these shoes offer a unique experience? What lifestyle are you selling when you’re selling these shoes?

Remember the study that suggested humans have the same attention span as a fish? While it might be hard to believe that we’re all Dory’s — Fast Company asserts that this fast-moving generation wants the “full story” in 8 seconds or less. You need to be clear, concise and catchy in your communications, and give the consumer a good reason to watch — no less “like” — what you’re offering. And did we mention they are fluent in just about every device? A Gen-Z consumer typically interacts with five (!) digital devices in a day. Make sure your content, development and design account for this tech-savvy consumer.

Let’s recap.

  • Gen-Z’s are all about loyalty: but you need to convey loyalty first, and then they’ll be loyal to your brand
  • Brand experience, rather than just product, is a key value that Gen-Z’ers look for
  • You need to grab their attention FAST in order to keep it for those sacred 8 seconds!

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