Sophia Laughlin

by Sophia Laughlin | Digital Strategy

“Target” is a key word in marketing. Perhaps our most important word. Who are you speaking to? There are a variety of ways to think of targeting in marketing: behavioral, psychographic, demographic, geographic. And while all of these are important, it’s also crucial to understand how to talk to people from different generations. In this Marketing to Generations series, I’ll be covering digital marketing to Gen Z (1995-2010), Millennials (1980-1994), Gen X (1960-1979), and Baby Boomers (1940-1959) so you can know if you’re reaching these groups in the right place and with the right message.

We’re starting off strong with the youngsters of the group: Gen Z.

Gen Z kind of sounds like a buzzword right now, doesn’t it? Ah, Gen Z… haters of skinny jeans and side parts; paragons of TikTok; tech-savvy, dark-humored, nihilistic youths. As is the case with all generations, it is time for Baby Boomers, Gen Xers, and Millennials to declare that Gen Z (the generation now entering the workforce) is a hot mess.

Hi, hello. I have something to admit. I’m a Gen Zer myself. And as a member of the infamous Gen Z group, I’m here to tell you a few things about us.

The Gen Z Mindset

Gen Zers are the first digital generation. They got phones, computers, and access to the world-wide web when they were young. They’re the first post-9/11 generation, saw many of their parents suffer through the Great Recession, and now, just as they’re entering highschool, college, and the workforce, they face the pandemic.

It’s not really a surprise that this generation is the most realistic, open-minded, and pragmatic. They’re masters of digital, mobile-focused, and highly ethical buyers. They have a short attention span and won’t put up with obnoxious advertising. And, interestingly, they highly value uniqueness.

They are some of the most skeptical when it comes to marketing. And they have grown up seeing advertisements on all their favorite platforms, so to really reach them, you need to stand out.

Gen Z Consumption

A study by McKinsey & Company has pointed out three highlights of Gen Z consumption:

  1. They value access more than possession: the recent rise in subscription based services is not a huge shock when the youngest generation values access to services at the regular. Car shares, tv streaming, video game streaming, and more are what keep this generation content.
  2. Their consumption is an expression of their identity: Conforming to the group is not high up in Gen Z’s list of priorities. They like products that allow them to customize their experience and express their unique identity.
  3. Their consumption is rooted in ethics: This generation is willing to boycott and turn a cold shoulder to any brand that doesn’t align with their values. Evaluate your own corporate and social responsibility to see where you fit in and consider making your mission clear in your ad copy and on your website–and if there is a social movement going on on social media (like avoiding posting anything on social for a day to raise awareness about racism in the United States), pay attention to it.

Marketing to Gen Z

It’s all well and good to know who Gen Z is, but how can you apply this to your digital marketing?

Platforms to Reach Gen Z
  • Social Media – Facebook is still used, but Instagram, TikTok, and Snapchat are increasingly the apps of choice
  • YouTube – 95% of people between the ages of 18-29 use YouTube (this age range is also notorious for using ad blockers, so check out this blog post to learn more about how to work with this)
  • Search – Gen Z can mainly be found searching on their mobile devices, so make sure to have adequate coverage there
  • Reddit 49% of users are between the ages of 10-29
Age gaps across different social media platforms
Messaging That Speaks to Gen Z

Okay…knowing what we know about Gen Z, what are some types of messaging that are likely to appeal to them?

  • Anything quick and easy to access
  • How your brand aligns with your consumer’s values (i.e., committed to social justice, LGBTQA+ rights, etc.)
  • Highlighting the uniqueness and individuality of your brand/products
  • Give it a kick of humor (Gen Zers are generally known for their dark humor–you don’t need to go crazy, just let it be self-aware)
  • Sales, promos & deals…oh my! (This generation is not a spending powerhouse yet, since they’re dealing with rising college and housing costs, along with inflation)

Of course, all this is just a starting point. Narrowing all members of a generation down to a few bullet points is a way to sum up the main ideas, but these vary even more within the different industries and unique audiences your brand is seeking to bring in. For more help crafting a digital marketing solution to reach and convert your Gen Z audience, talk to our team!