Updated: Sep 13, 2022
Marketing to Gen Z Requires a Whole New Strategy
Remember when everyone was trying to figure out how to successfully market to millennials? That conundrum is yesterday's news. The next big thing on the marketing horizon focuses on connecting with Gen Z. Many brands see connecting with a new generation as a daunting task. But, figuring out how to market to Gen Z is probably easier than you think and can generate impressive results.
Generation Z—Gen Z or Zoomers—includes anyone born between 1997 and 2012. Why the attention on ages 10–25? Look at Gen Z's numbers:
Represent 40 percent of US consumers;
Set to outpace Millennials' earnings by 2031 with over one quarter of global income;
48 percent non-white; nearly 22 percent with at least one immigrant parent;
1-in-5 identify as LGBTQ+;
On track to be the best-educated generation with 57 percent currently enrolled in college and 44 percent living with a college-educated parent.
Brands across all industries clamor for the attention of this influential group that is regarded as the "disruptive generation." As the first completely digital generation, they rule video and audio. Whether producing TikTok videos and podcasts or curating audio playlists, they prefer creating their own content rather than consuming what others create.
How does your marketing strategy connect with Gen Z? By identifying their rules and playing in their digital playgrounds.
TikTok: The Clock is Running
Several months ago, we asked if TikTok should be a part of your strategy. If you're marketing to Gen Z, then the answer is yes. Gen Z now makes up 60% of TikTok's 80 million monthly active users in the United States. However, slow down to carefully define the strategy and goals before moving forward.
Part of TikTok's rapid growth and success is attributed to the platform's unique algorithm that quickly adapts to show content users find interesting or entertaining. Users decide what they want to watch, not who they friend or follow. When marketing to Gen Z on TikTok, it's important that brands prioritize creating content that grabs attention within a few seconds. TikTok users spend an average of 95 minutes per day on the platform, but TikTok says the best performing content is between 21-34 seconds. (Note: This is up from 11-17 seconds in 2020).
Gen Z lives in a video world, with TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube the most used social media apps for networking, entertainment, and product purchases. It's clear video marketing resonates with Gen Z. The 2022 State of U.S. Consumer Trends report shows that over three months 28 percent of Gen Zs and Millennials bought products directly on social apps. That's compared to 18 percent by Gen X and 4 percent by Boomers.
This opens the door for you to make much-needed connections for successfully marketing to Gen Z. While most TikTok videos tend to be fun and entertaining, be careful that content doesn't backfire. Gen Z is quick to call out marketing that feels gimmicky or inauthentic. Young consumers expect brands to engage in corporate responsibility, but doing so without a strategic plan could result in a viral disaster.
Gen Z Fandom: Nostalgic and Quirky
Lockdown also left Gen Z looking to the past for emotional connections. Their throwback searches resulted in nearly 19 billion views for #nostalgia on TikTok. A resurgence of nostalgic pop culture has inspired fandom for TV shows such as "Euphoria" and "Stranger Things" and propelled "Maverick: Top Gun" and "Elvis" to be the summer's biggest box office hits
Consider using nostalgia to appeal to emotions. But it doesn't always have to induce tears; it can prompt laughter just as easily. Thoughtfully adding a bit of nostalgia to the content mix can strengthen the connection with the target audience.
Gen Z audiences like memes. More than half responded to a recent YouTube survey that they like when brands post memes. So, get creative and create memes that promote service lines or shares relevant information for this target demographic.
Another part of the Gen Z persona is their uniqueness. They don't want to fit in; they want to stand out and are perfectly comfortable with being quirky. Some 80 percent of Gen Zs surveyed for Spotify's Culture Next Global Trends Report say they like when brands connect with their different personalities.
Experiment with fresh marketing tactics to connect with Gen Z. Use contextual targeting to place educational messages on unexpected sites—info about fashion on a pizza website. Whatever the message or the channel, include audio. In the first quarter of this year, 18-to-24-year-olds played more than 578 billion minutes of music on Spotify.
Shared Brand Values: Honesty, Authenticity, Transparency
In terms of values, Gen Zs do not stray far from other generations. Honesty ranks as the most important value they look for in a brand, followed closely by transparency and authenticity.
Whether on TikTok, Instagram, or YouTube, video proves to be a useful tool for marketing to share values and personality while also promoting services and products. It is the ideal platform for storytelling that engages with the Gen Z audience.
In committing to short-form videos that connect with Gen Zs, remember that they see themselves as change-makers ready to disrupt culture. The status quo doesn't make the connection. Keep content meaningful, creative and different—just as if they created it themselves.
TotalCom is a full-service marketing agency helping brands like yours tell their story to the right audiences. Email Lori Moore or call TotalCom Marketing Communications at 205.345.7363 to see how TotalCom may be the right fit for you.