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5 Essential Strategies for Marketing to Generation Z

August 21, 2019

Everyone talks about what makes millennials tick or how to market to them, so we forget they’re old news. Sure, we'll still need to market to millenials for years to come, but it's time to start focusing on Generation Z.

At first glance, millennials and Gen Z might seem very similar. But if you look a little deeper, you start to see the subtle differences between the two generations—and these subtle differences are important to us marketers.

Millenial vs Gen Z

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If you want to build your Gen Z customer base, then read on to learn the five ways you can successfully tweak your digital marketing strategy to tailor it for this younger audience. Here's a preview of our top five strategies for marketing to Generation Z:

  1. Sell experiences, not products
  2. Video, video, video
  3. Rethink that major influencer campaign
  4. Engage with customers
  5. Highlight your dedication to privacy

Who are Generation Z?

Before we can even begin to think about creating a digital marketing strategy, we first need to define Generation Z.

Also referred to as the iGeneration, Generation Z covers anyone who was born between 1995 to the mid 2000s, and this demographic makes up 32% of the global population. Digitally savvy, they grew up with mobiles and iPads, and they don’t remember a time before the internetunlike millennials.

The attention span of a Gen Zer is just eight secondsthat’s four seconds less than their millennial counterparts. So first impressions really do count. You either grab their attention in that short space of time, or you’ll be forgotten forever.

If your target market is Generation Z, then try these five strategies to increase brand awareness, leads, and sales.

1. Sell experiences, not products

Members of Gen Z aren’t interested in hard sells. Because they’ve grown up with the internet, they’re immune to obvious marketing campaigns. They don’t want to hear about why your product is so amazing; they want to know how it will benefit them. More specifically, what experience will your product bring them?

According to Mention, 25% of what you sell is your product. The additional 75% is the intangible feeling that comes with said product.

Think about Brandy Melville. You’d never know they were Italian, given the chilled, California vibes they project, but that’s because they’re really good at selling the experiences their clothes bring.

Sure, their clothes are cheap, cute, and come in one size only (a UK 6-8). But why do Gen Zers buy into their brand? Because they, too, will have access to that all-American lifestyle projected across Brandy Melville’s marketing channels. Just take a look at their Instagram, featuring Insta models at the beach or on endless US road trips, and you’ll see exactly what I mean.

Brandy Melville instagram

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2. Video, video, video

Video content is key. A Google Survey revealed that YouTube is the first platform Generation Z turn to when they want to be cheered up or entertained.

But that’s not the only thing they use YouTube for. With 85% of teenagers actively using the platform, 80% do so to expand their knowledge, and 68% to improve or gain new skills. Other respondents said they used it to take a break from life’s stresses and deepen real-life connections, so ultimately there’s no end of use for YouTube.

With Gen Z a captive audience on YouTube, it’s the perfect place to hook them inbut it’s crucial you get it right.

Take Red Bull as an example. With over 8 million subscribers on its YouTube channel, Red Bull has several playlists, including a series called Red Bull Travel Vlogs. Collaborating with vloggers, Red Bull regularly posts active lifestyle videos with everything from skydiving over Lake Tahoe to base jumping the Italian Alps.

Remember my previous point of selling experiences and not products? Red Bull is a prime example. Never do these videos ever show a can of Red Bull, but the YouTube channel hints that if you buy the products, you too will have the drive and energy to travel the world, doing all of those adventurous, crazy things the vloggers do.

And YouTube isn’t the only place for video content: Instagram is huge, especially with Instagram Stories, and your website needs video content, too.

3. Rethink that major influencer campaign

In 2018, it was predicted that brands would spend $1.8 billion on Instagram influencers, with more than 14.5 million sponsored posts, and counting.

Sponsored posts could cost your business anywhere between £35 and £700,000, depending on who you collaborate with.

The top influencers of 2019 are Cristiano Ronaldo, Ariana Grande and Selena Gomez, but for the majority of brands, collaborating with a celebrity is highly unlikelyand that’s not a bad thing.

If you do want to go down the influencer route, then opt for micro-influencers instead. Defined as anyone who has a following of between 1,000 and 100,000 on social media, micro-influencers actually drive more engagement than their celebrity counterparts because Gen Z can relate to them. Stats show that once you’ve gained more than 100,000 followers, engagement levels tend to drop (and we’ll talk about how Gen Zers feel about engagement in just a minute).

Micro-influencers drive 60% higher engagement levels and 22.2% more weekly conversionsin addition to being 6.7x more cost efficient per engagement compared to influencers with larger followings.

And if you’re continuing with your carefully curated, staged images on Instagram, then think again. While millennials bought into the perfectly placed lattes and poses by aesthetically-pleasing walls, Gen Z are ditching brands that showcase this in favour of a more unfiltered, messier approach.

One brand using micro-influencers on social, is e.l.f. Cosmetics through their Beautyscape campaign. These events enable influencers to meet with each other, try out the latest products and learn new beauty techniques, which they share with their followers on Instagram, of course.

Gen Z influencer campaign elf cosmetics

4. Engage with customers

We’re all aware of the importance reviews plays in building brand trust, but this is absolutely crucial if your target market is Generation Z.

In fact, 76% of Gen Zers have stated they want brands to respond to feedback and view this responsiveness as key to determining the authenticity of a brand.

41% of this generation read at least five online reviews before making a purchase, and they share twice as much positive feedback than negativeso you want to build your number of reviews.

However, obtaining those reviews is just one stepyou need to reply to them. If it’s positive feedback, then tailor your response so potential customers can see it’s not just a one-size-fits-all reply.

It goes without saying you should respond to negative feedback, too; you need to show readers that you have acknowledged the issue and are doing everything you can to resolve it.

Twitter remains a top place for complaints, and ASOS has mastered it by creating a separate account so customers know where they can get a responsethat doesn’t ruin the business’s official account.

Asos Twitter for customer service

5. Highlight your dedication to privacy

Research from NGen found that 88% of Gen Zers agreed with the statement: “Protecting my privacy is very important to me.”

A survey by IBM found that less than a third of teens are comfortable with sharing their personal details online, aside from contact information and purchase history. Yet, that same study found that 61% said they’d feel better sharing this personal information, if they trusted the brand would securely protect it.

So, if you’re targeting a Gen Z audience, take note of this. When you ask to collect information, do so with transparency, and openly highlight your commitment to ensuring their data remains safe and secure.

Boost brand loyalty by marketing to Gen Z

While millennials and Generation Z might seem similar, if you scratch the surface, and you’ll see there is more than what meets the eye.

If your target market includes the younger of the two generations, then by tweaking your digital marketing strategy to incorporate the tips above, you can boost brand trust and loyalty with your Gen Z audience.

About the author

Elle Pollicott is a content specialist at digital marketing agency Hallam. Elle has over five years of experience in digital marketing, with a particular focus on content and SEO. Having worked both in house and on the agency side, she has experience in creating and implementing SEO and content strategies for both B2B and B2C clients in a range of industries, including fashion, finance, travel and property.As a content specialist, Elle works with both the SEO and the PR teams, creating and implementing content strategies that get clients to rank higher organically, in addition to larger content marketing campaigns for outreach.

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