Reaching Gen Z: How not to get left behind.

15 Mar, 2023

Gen Z, the market that everybody’s talking about. Why? Because their spending power is on the up – at a staggering $360 billion in disposable income according a Boomberg report. So the answer is simple right?

Tap into their wants and needs and start funnelling them into your strategy. Wrong. This is a new ballgame with a relatively unique and intricate Gen Z audience that you need to deeply understand before you can truly engage. Let’s explore how to do this with practical tips and guidelines that apply to most of this exciting generation.

Generation Z and tech: the first to be digital-first

Before we get into it, we need to understand that Gen Zers (or Zoomers colloquially) are not like their parents and have always had unlimited access to the internet. This also means Gen Z have far greater access to social media.

This is the key differentiator between them and Millennials. It’s impacted the way they think, engage, behave and perceive the world – with constant access to information and connection at their fingertips. Gen Z aren’t just kids anymore, they’re the pioneers in our new, digital world.

And while Millennials are still the largest buying audience and Baby Boomers still have the most money to spend, Generation Z are racing to the finish line doubling and tripling their buying power over the last 3 years. In doing so, they’re setting new expectations for business, education and employees and need to be reached differently to other generations.

Gen Z digital natives

Young workers look different: full-time employment vs. self-starters

According to research from the World Economic Forum, Gen Z consumers care a lot about autonomy, mental health and work-life balance.

They’d rather leave their jobs and work for themselves in a start-up than compromise their quality of life too much. And they aren’t the only generation to feel this way today. This is a trait that’s increasingly overlapping between the Gen Z and younger millennial workforce too.

As a result, companies are being forced to step up and become more socially conscious, with room for gender and ethnic diversity becoming more of a priority and focus for the workforce of the future.

Similarly, the data shows that climate change and ethical business practices must be high on the radar of a company that wants to employ and develop new talent. But don’t expect the younger generation to have a college degree, which Gen Zers view as less important than it was to young millennials.

Generation Z: Their search for truth as the most Internet-dependent generation

This generation is loosely defined by age with the general consensus being they are born between 1997 and 2012. But within that bracket lies a group of highly differentiable target audiences. One thing they do have in common though is the “search for truth” according to an in-depth investigation by McKinsey.

So we’re shifting gears from the status that Boomers sought out and the authenticity that resonates with Millennials. And this needs to be considered when creating everything from social media to website messaging.

Identity and influence in Gen Z families

If you ask some of the older generations, they paint a picture of Zoomers being flighty, non-committal and indecisive. But research suggests this is not the case at all. In fact, Zoomers are extremely loyal to brands they’ve grown up with, for example. This is according to research from the IBM Institute, which also found that:

  • 46% of Gen Z have loyalty for or a strong connection to a brand
  • 66% will continue to buy from a brand for lengthy periods or until they have a reason not to

This means, relationship-building is still key when it comes to connecting with them. The ways to engage them have just changed. However, they still don’t have as much brand loyalty as older generations.

Quick facts on Gen Z audiences: family support and children

Let’s talk about how Gen Z behave an perceive the world over and above their search for truth and constant connectivity. We know that for the average Gen Zer, the job doesn’t come first but then – what does?

Family. Gen Zers are increasingly becoming parents and take this role very seriously. To them, being a parent is “identity-improving” and they expect support and open conversations with their own parental figures.

Financially, 80% of Gen Zers expect an inheritance or trust fund with means more buying power that comes with age. And, a correlation between their future success and familial wealth. So, what does this mean for marketers?

Gen Z online engagement

Fool-proof marketing strategies to engage a Gen Zer

It goes without saying that deeply understanding this fierce and informed generation comes first in order to reach them where they are and avoid the risk of looking cringey. This also applies to where you reach them when it comes to work and play.

Multi-channel marketing is still the name of the game but how you apply content across social media and website channels needs to be examined more carefully. Gone are the days of retrofitting a short Facebook post for Twitter. Kick the temptation to turn repurposed Reels into a TikTok following strategy. Rather, explore the requirements of each platform intricately. Use this approach as an example.

  • For Instagram, think aspiration.
  • For Snapchat, think a moment in time.
  • For TikTok, think trending challenges and entertainment.
  • For Twitter, think news and social causes.
  • For LinkedIn, think career and work.

Create content for short attention spans. The tough reality is that people don’t have the time or attention span to dedicate hours to your content. Hook them with quick, snappy intros and value upfront. Part of how you do this is by optimizing for mobile technology.

Remember, video killed the radio star. We saw that short-format video was already trending a few years back, especially with young people. Video is undisputedly the way to reach this generation, whether you’re using influencers, User-Generated Content (UGC) or ads.

Keep it authentic. Earlier we spoke about how authenticity is critical to Millennials. This is still the case but it doesn’t mean that Gen Z don’t care. In fact, authenticity is also a critical part of reaching Zoomers. You could show bloopers and behind-the-scenes content, have authentic, bite-sized interviews with people in your employ or dive into the reality of what it takes to do what you do. Another way brands do this is by creating videos that aren’t overly curated or produced, which also helps them create content quicker.

Accountability is key. Brands have always made mistakes but in the past, they didn’t own up to them. Typically a lengthy PR exercise was used to calm stormy waters. Today, consumers – especially Gen Z – appreciate honesty and accountability and are more likely to support brands that put up their hands when they’ve done something wrong. Just make sure you also demonstrate change.

Centralise the Gen Z influencer. Influencer marketing has been all the rage for a while – but the approach is changing. Instead of simply paying people with large followings to promote your products and services, centralise them to your campaigns.

Research from a reputable consulting company shows that 40% of Gen Zers make buying decisions based on influencers, leaning towards women. So live-stream shopping, fun challenges, campaigns and drops are still good tools in your influencer arsenal.

Encourage and invite participation. Gen Z are a very inclusive generation and your brand should echo this sentiment. You may have noticed that interview-style quick clips on the street have become a popular form of engaging people. This is an excellent way to tap into consumer’s everyday lives and share on your platforms with their permission. You can also ask to share their tweets, TikToks and posts about your brand or products.

Create challenges or trends online and invite your audiences to take part, with incentives and without if you want to take a more organic approach. Or, get involved in existing conversations and challenges with hashtag research and trend strategies.

Marketing to Gen Z

Marketing to Gen Z: a new paradigm

While the next generation of customers may seem like an enigma, the truth is they are everyday people and not a secret society. It simply takes research, thought and planning to truly connect with them where they are. If you’re leveraging the data and opportunities that are already out there – and getting them to participate in an authentic way, you’ve already won half the battle.

Get them to open up and speak, tap into the “Instabrain” mindset, explore the power of predictive text and tools and understand their mental health along with how they use digital channels. It’s a quick recipe for working towards long-term marketing success.

Different generations need different solutions. Don’t wait to ideate.

Need help understanding and reaching this dynamic group? Contact us for support and fresh inspiration. After all, we are Your Digital Assembly.

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