How to Speak to Generation Z

Generation Z Marketing


Yep, it’s happened again. Just as you were starting to feel like you really had a grasp on things, the tide has shifted and you are being told that you now need to focus on marketing to a new generation. Forget millennials (well, don’t forget them, just know that they are no longer your primary target), the time has come to figure out the wants and whims of what is being called Generation Z.


While the instinct may be to see Gen Z, made up of people born in the 1990s and mid-2000s, as an extension of the millennial generation, experts warn that these consumers are a completely different beast who won’t be influenced by the same old techniques. So what is Gen Z looking for from businesses and how can you effectively market your service or product to them before the next generation sneaks up on you?


Who Is Gen Z?


While they may still be children and teenagers, Gen Z makes up 26 percent of the U.S. population and have power over $44 billion in spending, making them a serious consideration for any company. Ad Week described them as “both an extreme version of millennials” because this is a generation that has literally never lived without being connected to the Internet and “the opposite of them,” in that they are far more pragmatic than millennials, having grown up during an economic recession with Gen X parents.


Although Gen Z is completely digitally attuned, they are not a passive group. They are looking for real life experiences that they can then share online. Having always had access to limitless information, they are interested in social issues. This is a generation who have spent their whole lives being marketed to not only on television but on social media, through bloggers, and with viral marketing and they are both wary and very aware of how brands target them. The economic recession made Gen Z resourceful and entrepreneurial, with 76 percent looking to turn their hobbies into a business.


Still Social, but Different Media


Around 80 percent of Gen Z uses social media, but they have moved beyond Facebook (last year, a quarter of the generation left Facebook) and so should you. Although the social media landscape is constantly changing, as of now YouTube is king, followed by Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter. Utilizing Snapchat to promote one-day, limited edition items in their “snap-sales” helped make clothing brand Supreme a hit with Gen Z. Brands need to understand the format of each platform and create content tailored to the specific social media channel, all while maintaining a consistent overall message.


Make it Personal


Jeff From, president of the marketing consulting firm FutureCast, said of Gen Z, “This market wants to be treated as a consumer who’s a partner, not as a target audience.” To reach Gen Z, they need to feel like they, personally, have had a hand in creating a product or solution. Converse launched a “Made by You” campaign aimed at Gen Z which suggested personalizing white Converse brand shoes and then sharing custom creations on social media. Likewise, a big reason for the success of the new iPhone 6s is the addition of human-centered, often requested features like the new integrated Notes app and 3D Touch.


Pull Marketing


With this next generation already cynical about overt marketing, your brand must be more subtle about its approach. Although not a new concept, pull marketing, or marketing in a way that gets the customers to come to you, is effective with Gen Z. This generation is actively seeking information about products and services, so a brand that is well-represented online and already speaking the Gen Z language will draw this new generation into the business, while overly aggressive advertising will immediately turn Gen Z away.


Definition of Pull Marketing according to


Pull marketing is an approach designed to draw customers to a brand through search engine optimization (SEO) and other non-intrusive methods. The ultimate goal is to strengthen consumer awareness of a brand and products and foster demand. Examples of pull marketing include product placement, social media marketing, corporate sponsorship, content marketing and native advertising.

The pull marketing model contrasts with push advertising, the traditional marketing approach, in which promotional material is presented to large groups of people through channels including flyers, magazines, television, radio and billboards as well as online ads of various types.

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