Generation Z marketing: five top tips

By Daniel Nolan



Generation Z are expected to make up 40 per cent of the global population - and have 44 million dollars in buying power - by 2020, so it’s little wonder that interest in the demographic is growing, especially among marketers. Data from Meltwater shows that at the start of this year, ‘Generation Z’ was talked about more than 4,000 times in the press in one week alone, which is double the rate of the year before.

As they had to with millennials before them, marketers are working hard to understand and reach this new generation of consumers, which comes with its own unique rules of engagement. In this post, we look at five top tips for marketing to Generation Z, all of which you should bear in mind if this audience is important to your plans.

Keep it real

Perhaps the most important piece of advice for connecting with Generation Z is to be authentic in everything you do. Members of Gen Z are adept at seeing through marketing gimmicks and other fluff: one of the worst things a brand can be seen to do in the eyes of this audience is to be insincere, especially on the issues that matter to them. Practicing what you preach is key, as is looking for believable ways to communicate your authenticity. Try to find formats that allow you to foreground the real people - whether that’s customers or your team - that are important to your brand. Content along these lines will be far more credible and relatable to Generation Z than any amount of glossy old-school advertising

Whatever you do, do it with purpose

Following on neatly from our first tip is the value of standing for something and being purpose-driven. And not in a faddy, bandwagon-jumping kind of way (because that would be insincere), but in an authentic way that runs through the heart of your business. Research from ad agency Barkley shows that 60 per cent of Generation Z will support a brand that takes a stand on issues they care about, including human rights, race and sexual orientation. Achieving credibility in areas such as this may have to involve changing or adopting business processes to speak to the values of the audience. The alternative - championing social causes as a way of contriving kudos, without any real action to back up your words - will only lead to negative consequences for your brand.

Get to the point

One of the most bandied-around stats when it comes to Generation Z insights is their famed eight-second attention filter, which is even shorter than the 12 seconds ascribed to millennials before them. Put simply, members of Gen Z are adept at understanding how relevant you are to them within seconds, which has put pressure on brands to condense their story into a concise serving size more palatable to the audience. Speaking of stories, one of the best tactics for capturing the attention and imagination of Generation Z is to use channels such as Instagram and Snapchat to post entertaining, short-form video that will cut through the noise Gen Z are filtering their way through. This is an absolute win-win: not only will you stand out to your audience, but formats such as these make it easier to communicate your authenticity, by featuring real people in candid content.

Work with the right influencers

As you may have worked out by now, Generation Z are more likely to believe in and relate to real people as opposed to actors or celebs. This is where so-called microinfluencers come in; people whose social followings range from the low thousands up to around 100,000 and who have a trusted voice in their specific area of influence. It’s really important to work with influencers that are right for your brand (which might mean eschewing the idea altogether if there is no natural fit to be found), to prioritise their credibility over their follower numbers and to allow the influencer a degree of creative control. If you’re too heavy-handed in shaping the collaboration it will show in the quality of the end result, potentially at the expense of our old friend authenticity.

Be seen in the right places

Think Facebook has any place in your Generation Z marketing plan? You might want to think again. The best places to put all of the above principles into practice are those in which Gen Z spends time, particularly Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube. And because some estimates suggest members of Gen Z check social media up to 100 times per day, it’s important you make sure they see fresh content wherever they look, by adapting what you produce to suit and play to the strengths of each channel rather than just blanket posting the same material across your different accounts. Think carefully too about how the content will actually be experienced by the audience, especially if it’s social advertising, where you should strive to entertain without being annoying. Take unskippable pre-roll ads for example: working in that format means you have to push even harder to grab attention (likely in less than the eight-second target) and produce content that amuses or interests your audience rather than infuriates them. A key aim to strive for is to maximise enjoyment and minimise intrusion, of which posting content in the right places plays a pivotal part.


Here’s the eight-second recap of our Generation Z marketing tips.

>> Be authentic as a business, and know that you can’t fake it
>> Adopt formats (hint: social video) that help you foreground real people
>> Communicate your business purpose and your social values
>> Stand for something and back your words up with actions
>> Hone your brand story so it can be understood in under eight seconds
>> Embrace influencers - if there is an authentic fit with your brand and audience
>> Post unique, entertaining content to Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube
>> With ads, seek to maximise enjoyment and minimise intrusion for viewers

If Generation Z is important to the future of your business and you would like to chat through the challenge of connecting with them convincingly, we’re more than happy to help. Give us a call on 0800 0149 884 or send us a message and we will be in touch.