There's no doubt about it: Generation Z is built differently.

However, depending on who you ask, the definition of Gen Z varies (for example, if you ask me, it's anyone who has never had to rewind a VHS).

You can't draw a straight line between Gen Z and Millennials because belonging to a certain "generation" is as much about cultural influence as it is about age. (Which of the following traumatic films defined your childhood: The Lion King or Up?) However, for this blog post, we'll use the Pew Research Center's definition: anyone born in or after 1997 is considered part of Gen Z.

Continue reading to learn how to effectively market to this distinct demographic with ever-increasing purchasing power.

Marketing to Generation Z vs. Marketing to Millennials

When it comes to marketing, Gen Z and Millennials have been grouped as "digital natives" in the past. According to a March 2021 Statista study, 62% of Gen Z and Millennials purchased something as a result of social media marketing that month—but the study does not differentiate between the two generations.

Again, there isn't always a clear distinction between them. However, While their perspectives are similar, Generation Zers are slightly more progressive than Millennials. In general, Gen Z is liberal, and they are more likely to support issues such as racial equality and the use of gender-neutral pronouns.

Effective Marketing Strategies for Generation Z in 2023

1. Prioritize values

When it comes to engaging with a new brand on social media, Gen Z audiences are just as interested in the company as they are in the product or service.

According to 45% of Gen Zers, a brand's "appearance of trustworthiness and transparency" is a major motivator for engagement. So, instead of focusing solely on selling, create content that expresses your values and shares as much of your brand's story as possible.

For example, a clothing company looking to market to Generation Z should be transparent about the materials used, where the clothes are manufactured, and the working conditions.

2. Learn their language.

Communication is essential. It's critical to be able to use language that Generation Z can understand and relate to—and if you're not fluent, it's best to learn by immersion.

Follow Gen Z creators, watch their content, and take note of their vocabulary, acronyms, and jokes. After that, slay away.

One caveat: this takes time, and nothing is more uncool than trying to be cool. Don't force the language (it sounds unnatural) or go overboard (it's cringe). You want to be the cool aunt, not the overbearing stepfather. The most reliable way to ensure that your content speaks Gen Z's language? Take them on as members of your social team.

3. Avoid allyship and performative activism.

Putting on an act of activism while doing nothing to truly advance the cause won't win you over with Gen Z, which is related to putting morals first. It might prohibit you.

Nearly a third of Gen Z say they unfollow, hide, or block brands on social media every week, according to Forrester's Technographics data. The cause? When they detect a thin veneer, Gen Zers don't think twice about abandoning brands.

This is supported by a Forbes article from 2022, which claims that "younger generations are more likely to attach a brand's or company's real-world impact on society to their shopping decisions... they are examining everything, including the treatment of employees and ethical industrial processes.

Therefore, avoid using BIPOC staff to enhance your content, rainbow-washing your June promotion, or claiming a product is created sustainably when it isn't. There are many methods to support your community, including giving actual money, volunteering, attending marches and rallies, and elevating disadvantaged voices.

4. Collaborate with bloggers and influencers to develop trust

Working with the people that Gen Z trusts is a surefire way to sell to them (because it's difficult to find all of their elder sisters, we're looking to social media influencers).

People between the ages of 15 and 21 are more prone than older people to follow a few or many influencers.

Source: Morning Consult

Additionally, 24% of Gen Z women said that when looking for information on new things to purchase, influencers are the source they utilize the most frequently.

Gen Z marketing can be accomplished quite successfully by working with influencers. Gen Z wants to buy from businesses they trust, and they learn about trusted products from people they trust. This is all a part of the brand authenticity/speaking-the-language business.

5. Have fun (Be Entertaining)

Gen Z follows influencers because they "create content and information in an entertaining style," says a Morning Consult report, and because "they give intriguing stuff in a more personal context."

Boring content is useless. Additionally, according to Gen Zers, having a charismatic personality or being amusing is the second most crucial quality in determining whether or not to follow an influencer.

Source: Morning Consult

Lean into Gen Z's acute, perceptive, and frequently dark sense of humor (mindfully, of course).

This generation helps to demonstrate your sense of humor.

6. Use the appropriate platforms.

Make sure you're using the same platforms as Gen Zers because the tactics above won't work unless they're viewing your content. The Global Digital Report from Hootsuite is a fantastic resource for learning what social media platforms demographics use.

TikTok shouldn't be ignored if you want to engage with Gen Z ladies. TikTok is the third most effective advertising platform for influencing the shopping decisions of Gen Z girls, per a 2021 Statista survey.

Real-life recommendations from friends and family and observing a friend or relative using a product are the only "channels" that rate higher than TikTok. While Facebook and Twitter advertising are less likely to persuade Gen Z women to part with their hard-earned cash, Instagram ads, and IG influencer posts rate highly. 

7. Conduct a sale

Okay, this will work with any generation, but Gen Zers are especially interested in discounts.

Discounts were discovered to be the main driver of Gen Z customers' social media engagement with a new business in May 2022. Therefore, hold a sale if everything else fails.

Q&As on marketing to Generation Z

Do Gen Zers enjoy advertisements?

No, not in the conventional sense, at least. Gen Zers favor marketing that is relatable, honest, and amusing over slick, business-like advertisements.

What does the Gen Z market desire?

Consumers in Generation Z are looking to support businesses that share their values, such as support for LGBTQ+ people, racial fairness, and environmental sustainability.

What is the most important to Gen Z?

Gen Z appreciates authenticity above all else: companies that are open and honestly care about important issues, companies that make and follow promises, and companies that, regardless of size, make a difference in their communities.

Photo by Keira Burton (Pexels)