Gen Z Advertising: Everything You Should Know

As of 2022, Gen Zers accounted for the second-highest share of the U.S. population after millennials. While many still don’t have significant purchasing power, by 2035, almost all of them will be of age and making purchase decisions. Nonetheless, today, they already make up 40% of the total consumers in the U.S. It’s clearly worth understanding how to effectively advertise to this fast-growing segment. What may have cut it for previous generations won’t pass for this new group of buyers. Let’s get into the nitty gritty of Gen Z advertising and how advertising trends can help inform your Gen Z marketing strategies. 

How Are Gen Zers Different From Other Generations?

For one, Gen Z is one of the most racially diverse generations in the U.S. Unlike previous generations, which consist of a more substantial majority white population (61% for millennials, 70% and 81% for Gen X and Baby Boomers, respectively), research indicates that Gen Z consists of 52% white, 25% Hispanic, 14% Black, 6% Asian and 5% other races. 

Technology also comes easy for Gen Zers. This generation was born at the peak of technological advancements (1996 to 2013), so they’ve grown alongside technology. They’ve been born into a world with social media, smartphones, virtual reality, AI, etc., unlike other generations where these advancements found some of them well into adulthood. 

Gen Zers tend to have the shortest attention span of all generations, with an average of 2.7 minutes. This has been attributed to growing up in the age of constant digital distractions, meaning they often prefer quick, bite-sized content.

Lastly, many Gen Zers are eco-conscious and care about climate change deeply. Research shows that 67% of Gen Zers consistently buy from environmentally sustainable brands. For them, it’s not just about purchasing products or services; it’s about aligning themselves with businesses that share their values and beliefs, to a more significant extent than older generations.

Why Advertisers Need To Tap Into the Gen Z Market

Even though Gen Z might not be your target audience right now, you might want to reconsider this stance for several reasons. 

The Average Disposable Income of Gen Zers

Disposable income refers to the amount of money that remains after deductions of taxes and essential expenses such as housing, utilities, groceries, and transportation. As of 2022, Statista reported that Gen Zers had an average disposable income of $49,618 per year. This is a significant amount of money they have to spare, so for marketers, it’s essential to tap into this market to increase revenue and overall customer base. Moreover, building relationships now with this generation can create loyal customers who will continue to spend money with your brand in the future.

The Remarkable Increase in Gen Z’s Buying Power

As Gen Zers grow older, they continue to replace older generations in the workforce. This means that as they enter the workforce, their income grows, and with this comes the growth in purchasing power. According to Bloomberg, Gen Zers’ buying power has grown a remarkable 157% since 2017, from $143 billion to $360 billion in 2021. 

The Projection of Gen Z’s Income Growth Over the Next Decade

It is estimated that over the next decade, Gen Z’s income will grow by over 400% to reach $33 trillion. This will make up over a quarter of the total global income, which will surpass even the spending power of the millennial generation.

The Potential Revenue Generation for Businesses

All the above factors combined present a huge potential for the generation of consumers and, consequently, revenue growth for businesses. 

Digital marketing trends play a huge role in tapping into Generation Z advertising. Trends change fast — what worked for millennials and other generations won’t necessarily work when advertising for Gen Z. Therefore, to stay ahead of the competition, marketers must adjust their Gen Z advertising tactics. The following trends present a huge opportunity for you when advertising to Gen Z:

1. Creators’ Content Drives Purchase Decisions

We’re deep into the influencer and content creator era. With social media being a huge part of many Gen Zers’ lives, social media influencers and content creators have amassed huge followings on platforms like TikTok, YouTube, Instagram, and X (formerly Twitter). In fact, according to the Global Web Index, over 60% of all content creators online are members of Gen Z.

Many Gen Zers place a high degree of trust in content creators, influencers, and online personalities, so it’s no wonder that content creators have such a huge influence on this generation’s purchasing decisions. Here’s why:

  • Authenticity and relatability: Gen Z influencer marketing often appears more authentic and relatable compared to traditional advertising, making their endorsements and recommendations more trustworthy. These social media influencers often create relevant content that feels like a friend’s recommendation rather than a commercial, which resonates strongly with this generation.
  • Engagement and connection: Gen Z appreciates being part of a community, and content creators provide that experience. Content creators engage with their audiences on a personal level. They respond to comments, interact through live streams, and actively involve their followers in discussions. This level of interaction often creates a sense of connection that can significantly influence purchase decisions. 
  • Expertise and niche knowledge: Many content creators have expertise in specific niches or industries. Their in-depth knowledge and passion for their subject matter make them credible sources of information. Gen Z often turns to these creators for insights and recommendations within these niches, making them prime influencers for driving purchasing decisions related to those interests.
  • In-feed advertising: Social media platforms have adapted to these trends by introducing features like in-feed advertising. Creators’ content seamlessly blends with users’ feeds, making it less intrusive and more likely to capture the audience’s attention. Gen Z is more receptive to advertising when presented in a context they’re already engaged with.
  • Peer recommendations: Gen Z is highly influenced by peer recommendations, and content creators often serve as digital peers. They share their thoughts and experiences with products or services, creating a sense of trust that mimics a friend’s endorsement. Therefore, when Gen Z sees creators they follow endorsing a product, it feels like getting a recommendation from a trusted friend.

2. Personalized Contact With Brands Defines Preference

Gen Zers are a generation that highly values personalized and authentic interactions with brands. They are more likely to make purchases from a brand they feel personally connected to. This trend highlights the importance of personalized contact and engagement in shaping Gen Z’s brand preferences. Here’s a closer look at why personalized contact is crucial for ads targeted to Gen Z:

  • Values alignment: Personalized contact extends to a brand’s values and beliefs. Gen Z often supports brands that align with their own values, whether it’s related to social issues, sustainability, or ethical practices. For instance, statistics indicate that 60% of Gen Zers prefer businesses that openly support social issues that matter to them. Brands that authentically share and act upon these values connect on a personal level with Gen Z.
  • Individuality and authenticity: Gen Z values individuality and authenticity. They appreciate brands that treat them as unique individuals rather than as part of a demographic. The best Gen Z marketing campaigns should have personalized interactions, whether through tailored ads, messages, exclusive offers, or one-on-one engagement, to convey a brand’s commitment to authenticity.
  • Two-way communication: Unlike earlier generations, Gen Z is accustomed to two-way communication with brands through social media marketing, chat, and other digital channels. They expect brands to listen to their feedback, respond to inquiries, and engage in meaningful conversations. This interactive approach creates a sense of personal connection.
  • Customization and co-creation: Brands that allow Gen Z consumers to customize products or participate in co-creation processes tap into their desire for personalization. Whether it’s customizing the color of a product, adding a personal touch, or having a say in product development, Gen Z appreciates brands that involve them in the creative process.

3. Mobile-First Content Drives Engagement

Commonly referred to as the true digital natives, Gen Zers have the highest usage statistics for smartphones. For many in this generation, smartphones are an extension of themselves, and they use them for various activities, including socializing, learning, shopping, and entertainment. So much so that 95% of teens in this generation use smartphones, according to PewResearch. Data further reveals that Gen Z is twice as likely to make a purchase on their smartphone than millennials. This is partly due to the seamless experience of in-app purchases and the availability of mobile payment options.

Creating ads for Gen Z that are mobile-first is, therefore, essential when targeting Gen Z. This means making sure your websites, apps, and marketing materials are optimized for mobile devices. You can do this by:

  • Ensuring the content you develop is fluid and adjusts to the user’s screen, providing a consistent and optimal experience. This entails designing websites, applications, and digital content that can easily adapt and display correctly on various screen sizes.
  • Creating engaging content that is optimized for quick loading on mobile devices, where internet speeds may vary. This may involve creating content that minimizes large images and unnecessary elements that could slow down the loading process.
  • Prioritizing clear and concise mobile content that emphasizes essential information and avoids clutter. Users should quickly grasp the key messages and calls to action without the need for excessive scrolling or searching.
  • Creating content with mobile-friendly navigation menus and links, such as using collapsible menus, easily accessible buttons, and interactive elements

4. UGC is the Most Trustworthy Source

User-generated content (UGC) refers to content created and shared by real people instead of brands or paid creators. It includes product reviews, social media posts, images, short-form video content, and testimonials from real customers. Gen Z relies heavily on peer recommendations and reviews, and UGC is a form of peer endorsement. When they see others like them endorsing a product, it feels like a trusted friend’s recommendation. 

Additionally, since UGC often features everyday individuals, it makes it more relatable to Gen Z. They see themselves in the content, which makes it more compelling and relevant. When they can relate to the content, they are more likely to trust and engage with it.

UGC also represents a wide range of perspectives and backgrounds. And since Gen Zers are one of the most racially and culturally diverse generations, they appreciate and trust content more when it reflects a variety of viewpoints and perspectives.

5. Social Media as the New Search Engine

Gen Zers spend an average of three hours per day on social media — the highest among previous generations. Because of this, most Gen Zers use social media as a search engine if they want to learn something new, find a restaurant, or find a person online. In fact, Google stated that TikTok is the fastest-growing threat to search engines, with 51% of Gen Zers preferring to use it over Google. 

One of the reasons why Gen Z prefers social media over traditional search engines is because of its rich visual and interactive content, such as images, video ads, stories, and live streams. Gen Z finds these formats engaging and informative, making it a preferred choice for exploring various topics.

Find the Best Way To Place Your Message in Front of Gen Zers’ Eyes

Gen Zers are a complicated lot — of course, every generation is made up of individuals, not a monolith, and you can’t fit all of them in one box. That’s why, as a marketer, you must be flexible, creative, and willing to meet them on their terms. With AUDIENCEX, you can nail Gen Z advertising by using a multifaceted approach that combines data science, tech-driven creative, and omnichannel programmatic access. Across any vertical, if you’re looking to capture the attention of Gen Zers, our AI-enabled digital advertising solutions are designed to ensure your campaigns reach this diverse and dynamic audience.

Our suite of AI-powered data science and performance solutions are built from the ground up to be privacy-safe and compliant, prioritizing transparency in data usage and the protection of users’ personal information, considerations that are particularly important to a majority of Gen Z. These tools can help you understand the behavior of your audiences, gain insights into conversions, and model ideal custom segments and niches within any demographic to drive results and grow your revenue.

Schedule a meeting with a member of our expert team and let’s explore your specific goals and needs. We’d love to help you build a data-informed, holistic approach that can help you connect with the right consumers at the right time.