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Understanding Generation Z: Marketing Strategies for the New Consumer Wave

Generation Z, also referred to as Gen Z or Zoomers, is the demographic cohort that comes after Millennials. They are defined as those who are born between the mid-to-late 1990s to the early 2010s. The exact start and end years vary depending on the source being used. At the time of this writing, the oldest members of Gen Z are in their mid-twenties and the youngest are in their pre-teen years.

This means that the oldest of Gen Z members are entering the workforce, and therefore becoming consumers in their own right for the first time. Younger members also may have summer jobs or other sources of income that have them making their own purchasing decisions. Because of this, it’s becoming important for marketing departments to examine whether or not reaching out to this cohort makes sense for them.

If the demographics of your customers put them within Gen Z, this article will help you to figure out what makes this generation tick and how you can best market your products and services to them.


Understanding Generation Z

The unique circumstances of each generational cohort’s upbringing greatly influence their attitudes and behaviors. Even with the extreme diversity of personality types and cultures that are present within each, some common variables can be found. The list below will outline some of those common characteristics of Gen Z:

  • Digital Natives: Every prior generation was exposed to the digital world after they were born. Gen Z is the first to grow up with the internet, social media, and smartphones as a daily part of their youth. Their perceptions, interactions, and lifestyles have been shaped by this constant connectivity.
  • Value-Driven and Socially Conscious: Perhaps also a result of their connectivity, Gen Z is known for being more socially and environmentally conscious than previous generations. As such, they are more likely than other generations to care about how well a brand aligns with their values.
  • Educated and Independent: Generation Z values education and has more opportunities available to them to explore higher education. As a result, they are on track to be the most well-educated generation yet. This instills in them an independent spirit and drive for success.
  • Pragmatic and Realistic: The youth of Gen Z was shaped by uncertainty. From economic uncertainty to global challenges like climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic, Gen Z has had to adopt a more pragmatic approach to life and work.
  • Mental Health Awareness: Previous generations weren’t always open about mental health issues. Society around them didn’t talk about it much. Gen Z has grown up in a time where that’s changed. Because it’s more socially common to talk about such issues, this generation is more open than others.
  • Short Attention Spans: Because of the constant stream of information and near limitless entertainment options available to Gen Z, they have much shorter attention spans than older generations. They value concise, fast-paced, and engaging content.
  • Adaptable and Tech-Savvy: Although each generation is well-versed in the technology of their day, Gen Z has grown up in a time of explosive technological advancement. This rapidly changing environment has led them to be more open to embracing new technologies and platforms.

Marketing Strategies for Generation Z

Taking what we’ve learned about what makes Generation Z unique, we can draw some conclusions about what type of marketing strategies will best appeal to them.

Leverage Digital and Social Media Platforms

As a highly connected generation, Zoomers spend a large amount of time online. A large portion of that time is spent on social media platforms like Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, and YouTube. That makes producing content for these platforms an ideal way to reach the generation. The key is to grab their attention with visually appealing and engaging content. Short videos, interactive posts, and influencer collaborations are a great way to do that.

Influencer Marketing

Generation Z trusts peer recommendations and influencers who they feel are genuine and relatable. Although large influencers can reach a greater number of people, micro-influencers often have a stronger connection with their followers. These can be great options for marketing to Gen Z because the trust in them will be higher.

Mobile-First Approach

Not only does Gen Z spend a lot of time on their phones, it’s their primary way of connecting to the internet. A company that wants to reach this market should take extra care to ensure that its website uses a mobile-friendly responsive design and that all its advertisements and other content display well on mobile devices.

Authenticity and Transparency

Marketing speak and fluff may work on other generations, but Generation Z values authenticity and honesty in a way that older cohorts don’t. To reach Gen Z, brands need to be transparent about their products and services as well as their business practices. This includes challenges the company is facing and how it’s addressing them.

Align with Social and Environmental Values

As a generation that’s highly conscious of social and environmental issues, Gen Z is more likely to do business with brands that share those concerns. Companies who want to reach the cohort should show a strong commitment to sustainability and equality. This can be through sustainable business practices, socially responsible initiatives, or products that reflect these values.

Interactive and Immersive Experiences

The short attention span of Generation Z relative to other generations means brands have to work harder to engage the younger cohort. Brands can achieve that by utilizing technology to create interactive and immersive experiences. This includes interactive online experiences and the use of emerging technologies such as VR and AR.

Quick and Efficient Customer Service

More than any other generation, Gen Z has grown up in a time of instant gratification. They’ve never had to wait weeks for products to ship or had to go to a video store to watch their favorite movies. If a brand is going to resonate with this generation, its customer service needs to be just as quick. In addition to quick responses, support should be available from social media and other channels Gen Z uses most.

Austin Kruger
I'm a data-driven marketer with a passion for crafting engaging content and optimizing campaigns for results.
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