As Gen Z begins to reach its full earning potential, businesses are increasingly looking for ways to market and appeal to them. As this new generation comes into their prime working and earning years, it becomes more and more essential for businesses to understand how they make decisions and purchase products and services. Gen Z is projected to overtake Gen X in the number of U.S. digital buyers by 2025. And many businesses are urgently trying to master new generation marketing before that happens.
Gen Z has some marked differences in their spending behaviors compared to millennials, Gen X, and baby boomers, which present unique challenges for advertisers. So how do you create a product and marketing strategy that allows you to connect with younger generations and ensures future stability for your business?
The Best Ways to Market to New Generations
The first thing to remember is that no generation is a monolith. Even though different age groups have some common values and traits, a big-picture generational analysis is not a replacement for more detailed demographic data-based targeting. However, because marketing to younger generations is a hot topic, many marketing managers and business owners may have misconceptions about Gen Z that can impact their ability to successfully market to them. Basing your marketing strategy on these misconceptions (without doing further research and analysis) can be devastating to the future of your business.
So, here are some best practices for creating a product and marketing strategy that will appeal to Gen Z.
Do Your Research
First, put aside any preconceived ideas you may have about younger generations that have not been sourced from reliable research. Unfortunately, many articles in the vein of “Gen Z is killing ___” are written to appeal to an older demographic who may desire to compare themselves favorably to younger generations. Instead, look at the actual studies conducted on Gen Z marketing and consumer behavior.
For example, contrary to what some may believe, Gen Z consumers are very discerning and informed consumers. As digital natives, they are likely to research and compare products thoroughly before deciding on a purchase, seeking the opinions of other social media users before making a purchase both online and in-store.
While this means that marketing to them may at times be more difficult, it also suggests that once they decide on a brand or product they like, they are more likely to remain loyal to it. In fact, studies have found that Gen Z consumers are more likely to pay more for products from a company they are loyal to than older generations.
This means that even though it may take more effort to appeal to Gen Z, the payoff may be worth it. Through a successful product and marketing strategy, your business can build a loyal customer base for years to come.
Nail Down Your Brand’s Personality and Image
Presenting a clear brand image is important when marketing to all generations, but especially when targeting younger generations. As the buying shifts from in-person to online more each year, the number of competitors you need to outpace grows. Potential business owners are no longer hampered by location or the costs of maintaining physical stores.
This has given rise to thousands of specialized brands with online-only storefronts. To differentiate itself, your business must have a unique and appealing brand image. Focus on how you want your customers to view you, and weigh any marketing or product decisions against that brand identity carefully.
When building a brand relationship with Gen Z, trust is everything. Transparency is an essential component. Because of social media, information spreads at a wildfire pace. If something goes wrong or your business makes a mistake, your younger customers will likely find out about it. Trying to ignore and not publicize issues further may have been a strategy in the past, but now it may only serve to antagonize your audience.
The good thing is that Gen Z is more likely than older generations to forgive brands they like when they admit to mistakes and work actively to fix them. Try to be as transparent as possible when dealing with your audience. The more they see that your business is made up of people and not just a faceless corporation, the more likely they are to form a positive relationship with it.
Know What Values They Care About
On the whole, Gen Z consumers are very passionate about their values. Because social media lets them connect and empathize with others from various backgrounds and identities from a young age, Gen Z is often a strong supporter of progressive causes.
These include social causes such as equality, diversity, and inclusion. Many Gen Z consumers are passionate about racial justice, LGBTQ+ rights, and environmental protection, and often expect the brands they buy from to support these causes, as well.
However, Gen Z is also increasingly informed and passionate about labor rights and class issues. While terms like “the great resignation” or “quiet-quitting” can sometimes make business owners uneasy, they are simply a symptom of the workers-rights awareness that younger generations have. It also brings into their focus just how powerful workers are in our current economy. So, if a business develops a reputation for treating its workers poorly, it may find it difficult to attract younger customers.
Participate in Activism and Back It Up With Actions
When participating in activism be careful to avoid appearing performative. The idea of a company that changes its social media profile picture to a pride flag every pride month- except in specific regions – has become an ongoing criticism in online communities. As the saying goes, “talk is cheap”. And in cases like these, it may sometimes be even less damaging for a company’s reputation to do nothing than make empty performative gestures.
Instead, focus on real actions that will better the lives of the communities you are seeking to support. Actions like donating to charitable causes and creating a positive work environment for your employees can do a lot to incline Gen Z positively toward your brand. Publicize any actions you take, but be careful to avoid bragging. Also, consider working with influencers to spread the word about any activism your business takes part in.
Use the Most Popular Social Networks and Online Communities
Gen Z spends more time on social media than any other generation. However, they also predominantly utilize different social media platforms than older generations. To reach Gen Z focus on marketing through YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram.
Communicate with Authenticity
When trying to replicate Gen Z forms of communication, it is important to not appear out of touch. Be authentic and earnest, and avoid trying too hard to jump onto generational trends or cultural touchstones. Consumers of all ages, including Gen Z, have grown increasingly skeptical and capable of seeing through inauthentic attempts to create relatability.
The best way to communicate with any demographic that you are trying to reach is to hire members of that demographic to craft the messaging. So, make sure you have Gen Z members in your marketing team to create and vet communications before they are published – and, ensure that diverse viewpoints within the generational demographic are represented and considered.
Reach Out to Popular Influencers to Extend Your Product to Large Audiences
A great way to market your product to younger generations is to partner with popular influencers that younger people trust and like. Business participation in influencer marketing is constantly growing, and for good reason. Many Gen Z consumers have spent years watching and building positive relationships with their favorite creators. So, an endorsement from an influencer they trust can be one of the most effective ways to convince them to purchase a product or service.
Some aspects of influencer marketing are very important for business owners to understand. First, a brand influencer relationship can often go beyond just a paid endorsement. Building a long-standing relationship with a popular influencer can offer great rewards. Because of the parasocial aspect of creator-audience relationships, if an audience feels that a business treats their favorite creators well, their positive feelings toward the creator can transfer to the brand as well.
Yet, this comes with risks. Because this aspect of marketing is often so personal, businesses must avoid creating situations where a creator’s audience believes a brand treated their influencer unfairly or was a “fair weather friend”. Why? Any disagreements you have with influencers have a good chance of becoming publicized. Thus, damaging an influencer relationship can irreparably damage your brand’s image to thousands of people.
Get Their Attention With Entertainment
Creating entertaining advertising content is a great way to appeal to younger generations. Many brands are finding success through TikTok and other short-form video distributors like Instagram and YouTube. On these sites, the site algorithm ensures that entertaining videos reach a large and diverse audience even if they were not previously aware of your brand.
While in the past “viral campaigns” often required significant planning and investment, nowadays, a truly entertaining video has a good chance of reaching an audience through the algorithm without significant external help.
Have Deals and Sales That Appeal to Their Needs
Figure out exactly who your target demographics are within the larger Gen Z label, and create targeted offers for them. An example could be back-to-school sales for high school and college students.
Create Educational Content That Highlights Your Expertise
Highlighting your business and employees as experts in their field can increase the trust your customers feel toward your brand. If your business is widely known for its expertise, then that carries with it the expectation that your products will be of higher quality than the competition.
Consider creating expert educational content that demonstrates how knowledgeable your business is in its field. Try to integrate your products and services into this content but avoid making the content feel like an advertisement. Ask yourself: “If there were no mentions of your product or service in a video, would it be able to compete on quality with other educational content in your niche?”
What Is So Important About Marketing to Gen Z?
If you plan to keep your business thriving and healthy for years to come, then appealing to younger generations through generational marketing is a necessity. Every year Gen Z becomes a larger and larger slice of U.S. spenders. They also currently have an increasing pool of disposable income, which means they are a golden opportunity for many businesses.
What Are the Benefits of Reaching New Generations?
Many businesses are still in the process of figuring out how to market to the Gen Z audience. So investing in this marketing approach now can mean outpacing your competition. If you succeed in building a positive relationship with younger consumers, you can solidify your business as the defacto representative of your niche in their minds. Success in this can mean growth in the future as Gen Z becomes the dominant spending generation.
Let Your Digital Marketing Strategy Help You Reach the Right Audience
Learning to market to new generations can be a complex process. So, it’s beneficial to work with an experienced and professional advertising partner that can help craft a multi-generational and multi-platform marketing strategy.
At AUDIENCEX, our teams of expert strategists can help you create impactful ad content, leverage AI-enabled data science to model targeted audiences, and effectively deploy your campaigns across social media and throughout the digital landscape to reach the right consumers and increase conversions. Our human expertise is aided by the use of machine learning technology, which analyzes extensive historical and real-time data to achieve optimal results and the highest possible return on your investment. Plus, in-depth, actionable analytics and insights provide transparency on performance and enable continued optimization throughout every campaign. Reach out today, and see how we can help take your performance to the next level.