You’ve probably heard a lot about Gen Z: they’re digital natives, they’re always on their phones, they’re anxious about climate change, they can’t write in cursive. We don’t like to generalize, but if your brand’s goals include marketing to Gen Z, it’s crucial for you to understand this unique cohort and what drives their buying choices.
Instead of a list of stereotypes (plenty of young people can write in cursive!), here are the facts: Generation Z, commonly known as Gen Z, is generally accepted to be the population born between about 1997 and 2012. As of 2022, just over 69 million Americans are members of Gen Z. This is approximately the same number of Baby Boomers alive in the U.S. the same year. Gen Z makes up about 20% of the U.S. population, and they are the most racially and ethnically diverse generation of Americans.
So how can your brand successfully market to them? Use these four tried-and-true strategies for marketing to Gen Z:
Engage Like a Peer
Gen Z doesn’t expect your brand to speak and act in a super-polished, professional way that sets you apart from “regular people” on social media. In fact, it’s a turn-off for them. This is because they expect authenticity and transparency…and brands that feel disconnected, corporate, and overly produced are providing the opposite.
Take a look at this example of McDonald’s commenting on TikTok like an individual:
By responding like a peer—and that includes the all-lowercase, no punctuation format—McDonald’s joined the conversation without acting like an out-of-touch teacher trying to dress like their students for “cool cred” (which never works, by the way).
Make your Brand’s Values a Focal Point
Remember when we said Gen Z expects authenticity and transparency from the brands they purchase from? If you’re talking the talk without walking the walk, they won’t hesitate to call you out!
Hydro Flask is one brand that showcases their commitment to sustainability through total transparency on their website. Instead of vague promises and feel-good claims, Hydro Flask publishes stats and facts like:
Their elimination of single-use plastic packaging in more than 90% of their products
50 million reusable Hydro Flasks in consumers’ hands, reducing the consumption of single-use water bottles
Use of paper packaging from well-managed forests
Show consumers your values by putting them front-and-center in your marketing. Make those values your unique selling point—by doing this, you’re communicating that through buying from your brand, the consumer is living up to these values.
Position your Offer as a Wise Investment
Put yourself in the average Gen Z-er’s position. You’re a young adult, a few years into your career at most, and:
Chances are, you’re going to be pretty frugal with your spending. Only the smartest, highest value-to-expense purchases are worth your money.
That’s how your brand needs to think when you’re marketing your offer. Demonstrate why your offer is a smart, safe, responsible purchase, rather than something that’s simply frivolous and fun. For example, look back to Hydro Flask. An individual Hydro Flask is somewhat expensive for a water bottle: $40 for the 32-oz tumbler, $50 for the 40-oz version. But a Hydro Flask isn’t a one-off purchase, it’s an investment that enables the purchaser to live true to their own values, like commitment to sustainability by cutting down on single-use plastics.
Keep it Short
Finally, keep your messaging short and sweet. With video content (which performs better with Gen Z consumers than other types of content—so lean into it), aim to hook the viewer within the first three seconds. Make use of short-form formats like Instagram Reels, TikToks, and Youtube Shorts.
Work with an Award-winning New York and New Jersey-based Creative Agency
Here’s our last tip for successfully marketing to Gen Z: Work with a creative agency that can leverage data, experience, and expertise to optimize your marketing efforts for your ideal buyer persona.
Rapunzel Creative is an award-winning branding, digital marketing, and advertising agency located in Bergen County, New Jersey, within the New York metro market. Services include business branding, website design, digital marketing (such as social media, SEO, and email marketing) and advertising campaigns. The agency also specializes in nonprofit marketing and branding. Rapunzel Creative is certified by the State of New Jersey as a (WBE) Women Business Enterprise, is a WBENC-certified organization, and is a certified SBA and WOSB and approved contractor with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
About Rapunzel Creative
Rapunzel Creative is an award-winning branding, digital marketing, and advertising agency located in Bergen County, New Jersey, within the New York metro market. Services include business branding, website design, digital marketing (such as social media, SEO, and email marketing) and advertising campaigns. The agency also specializes in nonprofit marketing and branding. Rapunzel Creative is certified by the State of New Jersey as a (WBE) Women Business Enterprise, is a WBENC certified organization, and is a certified SBA and WOSB and approved contractor with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
Lynn Gregorski is the founder and president of Rapunzel Creative Marketing. She has decades of experience in branding, marketing and promoting corporations, TV networks, and nonprofits. Her body of work includes national promotions, digital campaigns and Emmy-award-winning video production, as well as marketing communications across all media for nonprofits.