Marketing to Gen Z: 5 Things Marketers Should Know

Digital Marketing

Generation Z, also known as Zoomers, is the generation born between 1996 and 2012. While they share many characteristics with the Millennial generation that comes before them, Gen Z has some truly unique behaviours.

Growing up with a wealth of information at their fingertips, Gen Z is renowned for making informed purchase decisions which can make marketing to them a complicated and delicate task. We look at the top five qualities this generation looks for in a brand and how companies can transform to gain the attention of this audience.

What Makes Gen Z So Desirable as a Customer Base?

Other than tapping into a global spending power of over $144 billion, gaining the trust of Gen Z means that organisations will gain a long-term base of loyal brand advocates. According to IBM, “66% of Gen Zers say they tend to buy from a preferred brand for a long time.”

1. Gen Z Value Sustainable Brands

When it comes to their purchase behaviour, Gen Z is extremely passionate about supporting companies that are socially and environmentally responsible. They are willing to spend at least 10% more on sustainable products. Out of all groups, Gen Z is the most likely to support brands based on environmental values.

However, Gen Z does not define sustainable brands as companies that simply create products that are made from recycled materials. Instead, they want companies to embed sustainability into every aspect of their operations from design and manufacturing to the end product or service.

How Companies are Responding:

Companies across the globe are pivoting to become more sustainable, and a big driver for this is to fulfil evolving customer expectations.

Adidas is a prime example of a brand that is on a sustainability journey. The iconic shoe company debuted a sustainability strategy in 2015 which introduced several sustainability KPIs and the use of more sustainable cotton. Since then, the company has partnered with Parley to manufacture shoes using ocean plastics.

marketing to gen zSource: Gameplan

2. Gen Z Respect Inclusive Brands

Gen Z wants to purchase from brands that align with their values and morals. Therefore, they expect companies to incorporate inclusivity and diversity into their strategies and believe that brands should engage with social and political issues on social media. However, they are also concerned with how inclusive a brand is behind closed doors, and “50% say they will not buy from a company whose leadership (i.e., CEO/owner/spokesperson) they view negatively,” according to Gartner.

How Companies are Responding:

From casting a variety of ethnicities, body types, and genders in their ad campaigns, to making sure their staff is diverse and representative of the target audience it serves, many companies are taking steps to prioritise inclusivity and diversity.

Further Reading: Brand Humanisation: Top Tips For The Digital Age

One such company is Vans. This apparel company has remained a shopper and Gen Z favourite due to its genderless designs and outspoken attitude towards social issues. The brand has solidified its commitment to social justice causes with its recent OTW Pride Gallery Collection, which aims to bring visibility to the challenges faced by the LGBTQ+ community.


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A post shared by vans (@vans)

Source: Instagram

3. Gen Z Responds Well to Personalization

Gen Z craves content that addresses their specific needs and wants, with 69% open to sharing their personal data in exchange for personalised experiences. Personalisation is popular among Gen Zers as it helps prevent information overload. Furthermore, it is also a crucial component of delivering the omnichannel experiences that Gen Z desires. However, it is worth noting that this generation is extremely digitally-savvy and is therefore particular about who and why they share their personal information with.

Not only does this generation want brands to deliver tailored experiences, but they also want to support companies that can demonstrate a clear understanding of who Gen Z is.

How Companies are Responding:

To get personalisation right, companies are striving to strike a balancing act between creating tailored offers and safeguarding users’ privacy. Tech companies are taking the lead on this by anonymizing data and giving users more control over the information they share.

Despite being notorious for spelling people’s names wrong on their orders, Starbucks is one company that is spot on when it comes to personalisation. Their mobile app uses AI technology to send hyper-personalised messages and deals to their customers. In addition, the app is extremely intuitive and delivers real-time offers based on past orders and preferences.

Source: Starbucks

4. Gen Z Trust Influencers

Almost 70% of Gen Zers follow influencers online, with 50% stating that they trust their recommendations. Not to mention, 56% say that they’ve purchased a product after seeing someone they follow post about it. They are more inclined to believe a review from an influencer than a celebrity.

Influencer marketing is a strategic way for brands to address the points of diversity and inclusivity, as pairing with the right influencer can have a significant impact on how potential customers perceive a business. Moreover, Gen Z is more likely to respond positively to a brand if they are marketing to them on their preferred social media platforms, such as Instagram or TikTok.

Related Reading: Influencer Marketing 101: The Beginner’s Guide

How Companies are Responding:

The influencer market is ballooning and is expected to almost double in the next three years according to HypeAuditor. A brand that is taking full advantage of this marketing tactic is S’well, a company that manufactures reusable water bottles. The brand has partnered with many of Gen Z’s favourite influencers, including food influencer, @diningwithskyler.

Source: Instagram

5. Gen Z Crave Authenticity and Transparency

Perhaps one of Gen Z’s most important attributes is the fact that they want to support authentic brands. Gen Zers have grown up in a time where ‘fake news’ tops Google searches, meaning they are more discerning about the information that they receive. This generation wants brands to supply proof of their claims, whether that is about their sustainability practices or the quality of their products. Over half of Gen Z say that they look for reliability in a brand and do not take advertisements at face value. In fact, this generation is sceptical of most forms of advertising, and 69% regard ads as disruptive.

Related Reading: Brand Voice: The Importance of Consistency

How Companies are Responding:

Building a concrete relationship with Gen Z requires brands to back up their claims with hard facts and statistics. Forward-thinking organisations are doing this and gaining the trust of customers by commissioning reports to substantiate their claims and getting approved by various eco-labelling organisations.

Beyond Meat is one of these companies and has a report which compares the environmental impact of their products to that of typical beef production in the US.

Source: Beyond Meat

Key Takeaways

With each generation comes a unique set of expectations that marketers must meet to win their trust and long-term loyalty. For Gen Z, those expectations require brands to be more transparent and authentic – brands who are making a positive contribution to society as a whole.

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