Marketing to Generation Z: 7 Strategies for Digital Natives

July 22, 2022

Generation Z, a demographic born between 1995 and 2010, has grown up in a world defined by the internet. As a result, they seek experiences, authenticity, and connection. But, more so than any other generation, they are also skeptical of conventional marketing tactics.

If you are trying to develop an effective marketing strategy for Generation Z, you must adapt your approach to the unique characteristics that define this younger demographic. 

Get off of Facebook, stop using celebrity endorsements, and find ways to create real connections with your audience. As the first digitally native generation, Gen Z demands a new way of thinking. 

The Digital Native Generation

Investopedia says digital natives are "the generation of people who grew up in the era of ubiquitous technology, including computers and the internet." 

While most millenials encountered cell phones and computers during their teens to early 20s, Generation Z grew up with these devices. As a result, technology and the internet are integral components of their lives.

We all know that Gen Z lives online. And yes, we are talking about social media spaces like TikTok, Instagram, and Youtube. Unfortunately, Facebook, although beloved by boomers and millennials, is the wrong social media platform for this younger demographic. 

Increasingly, Tiktok is especially pertinent. If your target audience is under 30, you need to be on this viral-making social media platform. In the United States, 25 percent of users are under the age of 19, and 22 percent are between the ages of 20 and 29. 

To capture Gen Z, you need to live where they live: connecting online and through their devices.  

7 Marketing Strategies for Generation Z

1. Short and Sweet Messaging

In 2021, researchers spoke with Millennials and Gen Z to find out what types of marketing they enjoyed. Short form videos are one of the most successful tactics, but most survey respondents said that advertisers need to get to the point and do so quickly. 

What's the best video length? Participants said 15 seconds at most, with many stating that even 30 seconds was too long. 

2. Music Is Critical

If the viral TikTok dances have taught us anything, it’s that music sells. The study mentioned above discovered that "​​most respondents mentioned that even if they are multitasking, a digital advertisement with popular music will make them stop and look."

Music is an excellent marketing tool for Generation Z through emotion, memorable beats, and the ability to capture attention in a busy online space.

3. Invest in a Heightened Visual Aesthetic 

With 81 percent of Generation Z spending the majority of their time on Instagram and Youtube, we can conclude that visuals are essential. 

In fact, surveys tell us that if given a choice, 56 percent want brands to focus on Instragam content and 38 percent on Youtube. Make content eye-catching, funny, and in short-form video format.

4. Create a Sense of Urgency 

First, it was Snapchat, then it was stories on Instagram, and now just about every online platform uses content with expiration dates to encourage participation. Think countdowns to product launches, Instagram's product Drop program, and shareable contests. 

The Fear of Missing Out (FOMO), is very real among Gen Z.. As Adam Alter, associate professor of marketing at the New York University Stern School of Business, told CNET in a recent interview, "Instagram is a FOMO engine. It shows you that other people are leading incredible lives and doing incredible things that you aren't doing. 

How can you create a sense of urgency within your own content marketing strategy? Time-sensitive content stimulates FOMO, and your audience needs to get on board now — before that chance is gone forever.

5. User-Generated Content

If you've noticed anything in your feeds recently, it's likely the prevalence of user-generated content. User-generated content is when brands ask their customers to tag them in posts. Or, the proliferation of unboxing videos. Tagging and branded hashtags are yet other examples.

User-generated content is essentially free marketing for your business. Considering social media algorithms demand you feed the machine with new content multiple times a day, asking your customers to provide this content is a simple and cost-effective way to do so. 

Plus, it demonstrates 'real people' enjoying your products and services in the 'real world.' Crowdriff tells us that more than 66 percent of consumers trust what other customers have to say, and upwards of 85 percent of consumers trust user-generated content. 

Remember, Gen Z is highly skeptical of older marketing tactics with brand-produced content. They love to see what others think before clicking that buy button.

6. Influencers Still Work

Yes, social media influencers get a lot of flack, but the truth is that they are still a valuable option for marketing to the digital native generation. 

The study mentioned earlier discovered that participants believed "that social media influencers convey a more believable message than other spokespersons for a brand such as celebrity endorsers (e.g., actors and athletes)." 

With younger people increasingly turning to social media megastars for product advice, you'll want to consider ways to tap into the influencer effect throughout your digital marketing and communication strategies.

7. Take into Account the High Levels of Skepticism

The more social media and digital marketing exposure, the more skeptical someone becomes. But unfortunately, as many brands are discovering, Gen Z is the most skeptical of traditional advertising.

This jaded sentiment among Gen Zers means authenticity is a brand's most important characteristic. More than any other generation, 22 percent of Generation Z finds that a lack of brand transparency will erode their trust in a company.

Whatever marketing tactics you employ for Gen Z, you need to ensure it comes across as authentic and genuine. As soon as these consumers catch a whiff of falsehood, you risk losing their attention. Worse still, you could fall into the trap of cancel culture.

Marketing to Generation Z: Beautiful Visuals and Authentic Content

Clearly, the marketing tactics that work on boomers, or even older millennials, will not work for the younger and digitally fluent generations. 

This generation has grown up in the internet age and has been exposed to more advertisements than any other demographic. So it's not a big surprise to find out they trust user-generated content more than brand-generated content. Nor is it shocking that they demand authenticity above all other brand characteristics.

To tap into this demographic, you have to stand out in an overly noisy online space. Start operating on Gen Z-preferred social platforms (Youtube, Instagram, and TikTok), and keep messaging short. To succeed, focus on creating beautiful visuals, using catchy popular music, and producing genuine content. 

Meet Your New Digital Marketing Partner

Amplify believes in a more human approach to advertising. Let us demonstrate how you can reduce wasted ad spend and time to conversion by implementing an omni-channel strategy that amplifies your SEO, Paid Search, Content and Programmatic strategies. If you would like to learn more about shifting your marketing strategies to grow your marketshare and bottom line, let’s have a conversation.  

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