Why your plan for marketing to Generation Z is wrong

Marketing to Generation Z, the post-Internet generation, will require marketers to change the way they approach consumer campaigns over the next decade

Marketing to Generation Z, the post-Internet generation, will require marketers to change the way they approach consumer campaigns over the next decade

Millennials — the so-called “on-demand generation,” the “entitled” ones, the creators of the Selfie — have for the better part of a decade been the obsession of marketers whose biggest challenge was to perfect a formula that turned Gen Y into a coterie of rabid super consumers.

Not anymore. Just like last year’s fashions and iPhone, millennials are being replaced by the latest and greatest batch of consumers, Generation Z, who are Gen Y’s younger siblings and children born between 1995 and 2009.

It’s been said that Gen Z can’t stand living in Gen Y’s shadow, and it is looking like they may not have to. Marketers and advertisers are starting to cast their sights on these up-and-coming consumers

Look no further than Deep Focus’ 2015 Cassandra Report on Gen Z, where 93 percent of Gen Z parents surveyed said their children influence family spending and household purchases.

With numbers like that, brands can’t ignore how Gen Z brings a new level of untapped potential that leaves Gen Y in the dust.

Gen Z vs. Gen Y: How do they measure up?

marketing-to-generation z

Fans line up for their pass to VidCon’s 6th annual conference where YouTube creators and fans attend at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, California, on June 22. Randy Miramontez / Shutterstock.com

Also known as “iGen,” “Digital Natives,” and “Post-Millennials,” Generation Z owns the post-Internet era. They grew up in a world with iPhones, smart TVs and social media, so their older sibling’s hand-me-downs will just not do.

With that as a catalyst, marketers need to craft unique Generation Z marketing strategies that differ from those used while marketing to millennials.

Keep in mind that technology drives Gen Z, so they are never really offline. So, when planning campaigns to reach this cohort, marketers who learned how to sell to millennials must leverage those tricks and more when selling to their younger counterparts.

While social media and technology play an important role in marketing to Generation Z, brands need to focus on the right platforms and messaging.

For example, J. Walter Thompson’s Consumer Insights Report featured a survey where 70 percent of 1,000 Gen Z respondents admitted to watching YouTube for more than two hours every day.

The report also suggested that Facebook still owns social media, with 84 percent of 13- to 17-year-olds and 46 percent of 8- to 12-year-olds holding active accounts.

Even though it may seem obvious to utilize both YouTube and Facebook to reach Gen Z, marketers need to be mindful of their messaging and which — if any — of these platforms would actually be effective.

Of course, figuring this step out requires an understanding of what Generation Z values.

Generation Z marketing techniques

marketing-to-generation-z

Two teen volunteers sort tennis shoes, then toss them into a pile, at Gwinnett County’s America Recycles Day event on November 23, 2013 in Lawrenceville, Georgia. BluIz60 / Shutterstock.com

Marketing to Generation Z by tapping into their values can be challenging. For starters, they typically stray away from tradition and conformity.

A study by Frank N. Magid Associates, Inc. reported that Gen Z is the least likely generation to believe in the American Dream, whereas Gen Y’ers would.

Moreover, the study reveals that Gen Z shuns social conformity and wants to make a difference in the world.

While philanthropically minded companies such as TOMS or Warby Parker have been successful marketing to millennials, when it comes to Gen Z, brands must strive to change the world in an innovative way.

Because of Gen Z’s fluency with digital tools and platforms, they have learned to express themselves in incredibly creative ways and want to use those skills to make an impact.

With this in mind, brands can tailor their messages to target Gen Z’s creative, nontraditional, world-changing ambitions.

Plus, marketers can take their campaigns a step farther to engage Gen Z more directly by showing how they are changing the world.

A key element to this recipe for success is telling a brand’s story.

As Deep Focus also reports, 67 percent of Gen Z prefers narratives and storytelling, so it’s no wonder Gen Z is flocking to YouTube.

In fact, Lenovo CMO David Roman believes it is imperative for brands to tell their stories in authentic ways.

“Consumers want to feel inspired and part of something exciting, so telling a brand’s unique story is a powerful tool in achieving consumer loyalty and engagement,” he said.

However, these examples of Generation Z marketing techniques are just a few of the many we’ll be seeing in the coming years.

As Gen Z begins to mature into a bourgeoning consumer base over the next 10 years, marketers can focus messages and tactics to target Generation Z’s values and stay ahead of the trends, whatever they may be.

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