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Move Over, Millennials: 5 Things We Know About Marketing To Generation Z

By Margarita Hakobyan
Business.com / Marketing Strategy / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

How do marketers appeal to the most digital savvy generation that grew up on social media? Here is what we know so far.

After many, many years of discussion about how to market to Millennials, the generation behind them is coming into buying power of its own, and marketers are starting to pay attention.

Often called the post-Internet generation, the oldest members of the newest coveted market were born in the mid-1990s.

Many of them don't remember the world before the September 11th attacks, and most of them grew up with a cell phone in their hands.

They are the most digital savvy generation, and they grew up on social media. They love selfies and they love authenticity.

They consume media in bite-sized chunks and are fluent in GIFs and emoji.

So how do marketers appeal to Generation Z?

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Embrace the Selfie and the Behind-the-Scenes Moments

Millennials may have invented the selfie, but Gen Z has made it their own. Because Gen Z so regularly shares images among friends, they expect that companies they interact with will be more than just a logo on a Facebook page. One way to show Gen Z what you stand for is to show off behind-the-scenes pictures, candid images from your company, and real pictures of real people doing real work.

This can be overdone, but if you're doing something you think your audience will be interested in, document it and share it. Maybe you're unboxing a brand new product, or you're reorganizing a major piece of your workflow. Let your followers know what's happening and invite them to participate or enjoy. 

Expect to Explain How You're Changing the World

Gen Z believes in climate change and government scandals. Gen Z has lived through some of the most contentious election cycles in recent memory. But Gen Z has also watched a bi-racial man be elected President of the United States, and will almost certainly see a woman be nominated to run for the presidency this fall.

Gen Z isn't waiting around for someone else to change the world; Gen Z is right in there, getting its hands dirty. These kids are volunteers and entrepreneurs and creators, and more than anything else, they are passionate.

If you want to reach them, you will need to be equally passionate. You will need to embrace your brand and show them how you're changing the world because they will not settle for less.

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Gen Z Hates Dot.coms

If your website never shares its content to social media, it's a safe assumption that Gen Z will never see your content, no matter how sharp, well written, on point, or SEO targeted it may be. BaseCreate says that only 23 percent of Buzzfeed's traffic comes from the website itself; the vast majority of its content is consumed through its social media channels on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and others.

You can certainly create long-form content that will do best on a blog, but expect to distil it down to make it presentable on social media, and absolutely without question, present it with an image or short video.

Don't Rely on Brand Loyalty

In many ways, brand loyalty has been falling apart since Gen X, but with Gen Z, consumers seem more willing to switch from brand to brand than any group before them. They are happy to relocate for a better opportunity or a better experience with a new company, and as more and more of their data is stored in the cloud, there are fewer penalties to switching from one service to another.

In fact, if you want to infuriate Gen Z, try and lock them in with anything. From cell phone contracts to DRM, this generation wants to own its experience in a way that the less tech-savvy Gen X and Millennials just did not worry about.

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Facebook Isn't Enough

A large portion of Gen Z uses Facebook, but that's not where the action is. Especially as grandparents and schools got savvy to FB, kids looked for other services where they were less likely to be seen. Many of them ended up on Instagram, although Periscope and Snapchat are also quite popular, for the moment.

Because that's the thing, social media changes rapidly, and if you want to target Gen Z where they are, you need to know which social media networks are popular, for which groups, and how you can best take advantage of them authentically. Your content needs to reach out to this group in their space because they're not coming looking for you. They don't need to.

What is your favorite marketing tip for those who are reaching out to Gen Z?

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