The Art of Marketing: Focus on Generation Z
Generation X Y Z Millennials Speedometer Words 3d Illustration

For years, the business community has grappled with how to best target and engage Millennial minds.


While Millennials still occupy a large percentage of American consumers, there’s a new generation of consumers on the rise and consequently, there’s a new conversation we, as marketers, need to have. Take a moment and put your Millennial marketing strategies aside, forget what you know, and open your mind.  It’s time to talk about Generation Z.

Who Is Generation Z?

Broadly speaking, anybody born between 1995 and 2012 belongs to Gen Z. With over 72.8 members, Gen Z occupies a quarter of the U.S. population. And this young group of consumers is emerging fast—by 2020, they will account for nearly 40% of American consumers.

Are you thinking this is a conversation that can wait another year or two? Think again. Gen Z alone already influences nearly $44 billion in annual spending, and that number, along with their influence, is guaranteed to grow.

And don’t mistakenly assume these rising consumers are merely Millennials 2.0—Gen Z is a unique and powerful generation of their own, unparalleled by generations we’ve seen before.

Approximately 89% consider themselves price-conscious shoppers and 98% buy in a store some or most of the time.  Gen Z sees themselves as agents of change and progressive values.

Above all, they value: open-mindedness, social impact, inclusion, authenticity, and value. About 60% of this generation already has a savings account, which is more than any other generation at this age.  What does this mean?  Clients, consumers, new business and targeting is key.

Marketing to Generation Z

Speak their language.

Text vs image (emoji, video/sound/CC, attention span)

Think mobile-first.

Know their social spaces. Act accordingly. 

Platform specificity.


Format (videos, especially) Note platform popularity changes per age demographic

Authenticity is key. 

Neutrality (middle-ground mindset) is out of style. Take a stance:

But before getting vocal, safeguard against inconsistencies. Make sure your past and present positions align and maintain this consistency in the future.

  • Don’t contradict yourself. The internet fosters a particularly fierce hatred for hypocrisy.
  • Anchor brand communications in a clear, consistent voice and point of view.
  • Defining a unique brand voice will help your content stand out in a saturated market. Gen Z consumers don’t respond well to generic brand messaging. For digital natives, these uninspired marketing strategies are all too transparent.
  • Gen Z doesn’t want to passively consume your branded content—they want to participate.

How Generation Z Uses Social Media

Social Media Fluency

  • Digital natives
  • Frequency (check 100+ times a day)
  • Purpose: cultivate identities by driving narratives at specific audiences. Natural marketers
  • Social media = key arena for decision making. Especially when it comes to what to buy. Social media influencers

The Power of FOMO

  • Faster information processing than previous generations. Skilled at quickly deciding where to focus their attention for consumption
  • Accustomed to information on-demand 24/7: Immediate gratification, Given to impulse buying—especially when there’s a chance of missing out.
  • FOMO hurts—Exclusivity sells`i.e., messages like “Limited time only” and “Few left in stock” are valuable marketing tools.

Authenticity is Key 

  • They don’t want to be marketed to
  • They want to converse and identify with brands. Personalized messages that cultivate long-term brand/consumer relationships are the most engaging. Example: Apple, Nike, Amazon, Target

Social Impact Matters

  • Buying choices and brand loyalties reflect Gen Z desire to partake in making the world a better place.
  • See MNI survey
  • Praising brands with a strong stance is more than merely applause—it’s personal. By association with these do-gooder brands, Gen Z-ers make statements about their own desires to make the world a better place, crafting their own identities via these associations made by liking, sharing, etc. branded messaging. Example: Dick’s, Mattel
  • Seek to support brands that consistently provide messaging with value and relevancy

Identity is fluid

  • Different personas cater to different audiences i.e, Snapchat versus Facebook (audience variance: friends versus parents)


  • Mirror values of Baby Boomers, but more accepting of various routes to these goals. They see little reason to follow traditional life models, especially in the realms of gender identity, sexuality, and family structure.

They distinguish between digital and print

  • Print holds their attention for longer, they will read it for longer periods without distractions than they would on a digital platform.

Tips to Marketing to Generation Z

  • Keep your content platform-specific: Speak the language of each platform appropriately
  • Be authentic:
    • Strong pro-social stances will be rewarded—so long as they align with brand views and values
    • They’re not afraid to call out BS
      • You must have a clear and consistent POV that does not change with circumstances or platforms
      • Have a distinct and unique voice, without sacrificing authenticity.
      • Be willing to take a stand on issues despite their complexity or controversial nature. Neutrality is not good enough.

Let them help create your content 

  • Peers and social media influencers are far more powerful sways to purchase than celebrity endorsements or “experts” of yesteryear
  • They will take the opportunity to create user-generated content around your product/brand: They know how to research – Price and quality matter. Let the digital and the real worlds work together.

This article was co-authored by Amber Flaskey.

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