Marketing

Your future customers: How to crack the gen Z code

Simon Slade /

For too long, marketers have centred their practices around appealing to a millennial market. Unfortunately, this has left the advertising community deeply unprepared for the rise of the generation Z customer base.

While some marketing principles may apply to both groups, what entices a 35-year-old to purchase a product or service will be quite different from what appeals to a college student. While millennials still possess most of the buying power, generation Z’s arrival is imminent, with their members poised to make up as much as 40% of consumers by 2020

As digital natives, generation Z will require a different marketing strategy than any current consumer base.

Here are a few tips for connecting your business with the generation Z market. 

Quickly digestible content

Generations Z grew up with phones and tablets in hand. They can seamlessly navigate the digital world, and they won’t waste their time with fluff. Their attention spans are a little shorter than millennials, and they are often processing content through multiple channels at once. 

As a business owner, this means you need to create shorter, punchier bits of content. Clever memes and  GIFs will draw in this younger audience.

Marketing content has long been trending towards more visual content, including video and photo, and this trend has never been more important than when marketing to generation Z. 

Immersive engagement

It won’t be enough for these younger consumers to just digest your content — they will need to see themselves within it, to engage with it and be a part of it. User-generated content has always been a hugely valuable tool for businesses. Content created by customers or potential customers — whether it be a review, a social media post, or a comment on your image — automatically carries weight and trustworthiness that is nearly impossible to achieve otherwise. 

Generation Z is driven to create with brands, livestream their experiences and ‘choose their own adventure’. An effective marketing strategy for generation Z consumers will include opportunities for these consumers to share their experience with a product or service. This might mean hosting video or photo contests on social media, allowing customers to vote on product upgrades, or accepting design submissions for a new logo or label. 

You need influencers

Influencers are a powerful resource and have been for a few years now. If influencers aren’t already part of your marketing strategy, they definitely need to be when it comes to attracting the generation Z customer base. 

Specifically, data shows members of generation Z are deeply responsive to and invested in YouTube personalities. These stars offer the same valuable trustworthiness that a brand can attain from user-generated content. Just one effective partnership with a YouTube personality — even with a smaller audience — can go a long way to getting your business in front of the right audience. 

Flex your altruism

Generation Zers are a socially responsible bunch, and they value that in a business. Do your staff volunteer at the local kitchen or do any pro-bono work? Highlighting this will ingratiate your business with generation Z — and likely with other potential customers too. 

If your business has a socially responsible component by its very nature, you’re already ahead of the game. If not, there are plenty of ways to get involved in worthy causes. The generation Z customer base wants to see that you — as a business owner or company team — are passionate about a cause and have contributed your time and effort to it. 

A note: this altruism has to be sincere. This generation can spot insincerity from a mile away, especially when it comes to marketing and advertising. Social responsibility can’t just be a marketing tactic. It has to be a true business value in order to appeal to generation Z buyers.  

Best practice still applies

As with any new marketing strategy, you need to test things out to see what works. A/B testing is the only way to know which of your efforts are working, which aren’t, and how you can improve.

Furthermore, market research will be key in working out how to connect with this new consumer group. While there are some things we know for sure, there are plenty of purchasing habits that will develop as this group — and their spending power — grows.

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Simon Slade

Simon is the chief executive officer and co-founder of affiliate marketing training community Affilorama, a co-founder of online dropship and wholesale directory SaleHoo, the co-founder of email delivery service Smtp2Go and an investor in virtual GP clinic SwiftMed.

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