Gen Z marketing guide to maximizing your revenue

Christopher Lowe

Aug 27, 2021

Gen Z marketing guide to maximizing your revenue Featured Image
Christopher Lowe

Aug 27, 2021

Gen Z (anyone born between 1997 and 2012) is a cohort being raised to demand more. Gen Z individuals are different from other cohorts in what they know, how they feel, what they are looking for in their life, and in what they want in a company.

Gen Zers as a group have a spending power of $44 billion. When you include their influence on household purchases, their real spending power is about $200 billion.

They are not advertisers, but they are consumers. 

From Bloomberg’s analysis of United Nations data, Gen Z comprises 27% of the US population.

(Generation X: Born 1965-1980. Millennials: Born 1981-1996)

In this post, we’ll provide a comprehensive guide to marketing to Gen Z, why Gen Zers are important, the marketing strategies you’ll need, challenges, misconceptions, the power of personalized marketing, and much more.

Table of Contents
  1. Who needs this guide?

  2. A quick view of what you’ll learn in this guide

  3. What is Gen Z?

  4. Why must marketers learn how to market to Gen Z?

  5. Difference between Gen Z and Millennials

  6. Gen Z Characteristics

  7. Common misconceptions about Gen Z

  8. Generation Z challenges marketers must overcome

  9. How to effectively market to Gen Z: Proven Strategies

  10. The Power of Personalized Marketing

  11. Gen Z FAQs

  12. Tips and Reminders on How to Market to Gen Z

  13. Conclusions

Who needs this guide? 

Marketers, including digital commerce managers, content marketers, and anyone else who wants to learn how to market and better engage Gen Z.

What you’ll learn in this guide:

  • What is Gen Z?
  • Why must marketers learn how to market to Gen Z?
  • What’s the difference between Gen Z and Millennials?
  • Gen Z characteristics & behaviors
  • Common misconceptions about Gen Z
  • Gen Z challenges marketers must overcome.
  • How to effectively market to Gen Z: Proven strategies
  • The power of personalized marketing
  • Gen Z FAQs.
  • Tips and reminders on how to market to Gen Z
  • Conclusions

What is Gen Z?

The generation after Millennials and includes anyone born from 1997 to 2012. They have access to free content, which is a vast change from previous generations. They are digital natives.

Also called:

· Post-Millennials

· iGeneration

· Homeland Generation

Note: In this guide, we will refer to them as Gen Z.

Why must marketers learn how to market to Gen Z?

As Millennials (those individuals born between 1981-1996) are getting older, the Gen Z population is growing fast. Gen Zers currently make up about a quarter of America’s population and should rise to about 40% of all consumers by 2022.

Before COVID-19, in 2018, an independent study revealed that their direct and indirect spending power is around $143 billion. That’s a level of financial influence that has generated brands’ interest in how to effectively market to Gen Z.

“How you turn these generations into advocates is a powerful thing to look into. Move them from consumers to actual advocates. Brand perception and the key value of marketing, that’s what brings Gen Z back to you.”

Ravi Raman – Martech Vibe

Difference between Gen Z and Millennials

“Gen Z is a generation that has been raised on the Internet and social media. They consume content and products in a  different way to previous generations.”

Adil Buohadi — Studio Autone

Yes, they may all look young, yet Millennials and Gen Z approach marketing differently. Therefore, brands need a working marketing strategy to draw these cohorts to you.

When you clearly understand each audience, you’ll be able to personalize messages sent to Gen Zers using the right channels.

Gen Z wants more innovation from companies

Gen Zers, unlike the Millennials, are more interested in new products and services from companies.

They expect companies and marketers to adopt the use of the latest technology in their businesses.

They also expects more innovation because they’ve grown up in an era of rapid technological advancement. While Millennials may still prefer Blockbuster VHS rentals, Gen Z is at home enjoying Netflix and uploading Instagram stories 

They trust companies less than Millennials how to overcome mistrust

Based on interviews with thousands of consumers, 50% of Millennials say they trust companies compared to 42% of Gen Z. Also, a larger percentage feel they’ve lost control over how companies use their personal information.

Gen Z consumers are willing to challenge authority, including their parents. They’re more likely to divulge how much they’re willing to pay for a product as a way to showcase their price sensitivity. 

We shouldn’t judge them for this. Whereas Millennials were raised in an era of an economic boom, these young people grew up during a recession. The most successful marketing strategy focuses on long-term value (sales funnel) and smart investments.

“A major point to note is that Gen Z is looking for much more purpose in a company, and that’s something we find very amazing and very useful.”

Colea Weis — KPN

If you have an effective way of marketing to Gen Z, you’ll likely also be relevant to the coming generation.

Gen Z Characteristics

Research by Pew Research Center paints a clear picture of Gen Zers. As a digital marketing expert, here’s what we know:

· Different and multicultural (have equal rights and opportunities)

· Neutral in several ways, like their acceptance of all sexual orientations

· Innovative, interested in fresh development and entrepreneurship

· Idealists motivated to follow their passions

· Independent learners, who have a passion to learn more personally

Common misconceptions about Gen Z

Until recently, Millennials have enjoyed all the fame. They have been the most highly regarded demographic for marketers. Now marketers are focusing their efforts on the next generation of consumers and learning how to market to Gen Z.

It’s no longer a stage for the Taylor Swift and Britney Spears generation—instead, it’s time for Chloe x Halle and Lil Nas X. 

Gen Z doesn’t like socializing in person

It’s true to say Gen Zers are glued to their phones. However, they prefer to socialize physically. Research by Danah Boyd’s book It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens.

This misconception came from parental concerns about safety in public places. This generation believes strongly in total freedom (where not watched by parents), and it was safety concerns that limited their chances of hanging out in person.

They always have their phones on hand because social media and other messaging apps allow them to interact with their peers.

Gen Z cares more about playing on their phones than working hard

Even if some are still in school, it doesn’t mean they are not working towards a bright future. They strongly wish to work in creative and rewarding roles, and understand that to achieve this goal, they must work hard.

Therefore, an increasing number of Gen Z individuals have developed an entrepreneurial spirit, and are creating their community initiatives, organizations, teams, companies, and projects, even before they graduate.

2014 research by Randstad, which found that 18% of them want to start a business and employ others, compared to just 10% of Millennials.

Gen Z think they know it all

Several studies have found that young people are eager to learn, so don’t be surprised if they are bringing their learning and innovative opportunities to you. Gen Zers will tell you what they want to learn.

With that in mind, they want a flexible space where they can freely share their opinions because they want to make a difference. Not giving them this chance can frustrate them, making them feel they have no value in conversations.

“A unique characteristic of Gen Z is their will to learn from others.”

Regina Luttrell, Ph.D.— Assistant Professor Syracuse University.

Gen Z doesn’t care about politics

Based on a 2016 survey by Wunderman, 77% of Gen Z feel politicians do not have their best interests in mind.

But that doesn’t mean they aren’t passionate about political matters. Gen Zers are ready and willing to support leaders who stand for causes they believe in, including human rights and gender equality.

Generation Z challenges marketers must overcome

“Challenges are like objections. It’s not meant to break you but to give you a chance to succeed.” 

Sibe Xavi

When you tackle challenges, you’ll gain the heart of some valuable customers. Consider these three challenges marketers must overcome when it comes to marketing to Gen Z:

Bringing price and quality closer than before

Based on a Lincoln Financial Group report, six out of every ten Gen Zers have a savings account, and about eight out of ten say they are more concerned about saving on their purchases.

Does that mean Generation Z doesn’t spend? Not true.

However, they are more demanding on the price-performance ratio of products when compared to Millennials and Gen X. Gen Z consumers do expect the quality to match the price they have paid.

To address this challenge, and satisfy these consumers adjust price and quality so they are closer than ever before.

Be receptive and accept criticism

Many of today’s advertisements are overhyped and full of exaggeration. Gen Z doesn’t tolerate this kind of marketing at all.

In fact, they are not shy about telling you this directly.

Therefore, they will make corporate crises a major threat to brands. They won’t stop at calling customer care, they’ll post on social media platforms to make your brand trend badly.

The best way to tackle this is to be open-minded, accept criticism, and not be too big to apologize when necessary.

Excellent customer service

We said earlier that Gen Zers were born in the age of advanced technology. This cohort has barely lived a day without social media.

This is not a bad omen for brands. What you need to do is to learn the consumption habits of this generation.

For example, recently (4th October 2021), WhatsApp, Facebook, and Instagram went down for a few hours globally. What happened next? Gen Zers went to Twitter, LinkedIn, and other available platforms to spread the news.

Why? Because it is a quick way for this young generation of consumers to get their voices heard.

How to effectively market to Gen Z: Proven Strategies

So, now we know who Generation Z is and why they’re important to your business, grab your notebook as we’re about to examine ways to market to this important cohort. 

Capturing the attention of Millennials is easy when compared to Gen Zers. Studies show you have twelve seconds to grab the attention of Millennials, unlike Gen Z where you have just eight seconds. So, first impressions matter a lot for this group. Either you grab their attention within that short period, or they leave and go to your competitors.

Another benefit of the strategies explained below is: if you master them well, you’ll likely please other generations as well. Let’s take you to the specific ways to market to Gen Z.

1. Be Mobile Friendly

Image Source

Compared to any other device used by Gen Z, mobile devices represent 75%.

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On average, Gen Zers receive their first phone at a tender age compared to other generations. They spend most of their time on their phones to connect with friends, find information, as a way to interact locally and globally, and for a convenient and private way to shop. 

 Research shows that Gen Z use their mobiles more than any other device for shopping

It’s time to optimize your website to be mobile-friendly, simplify your checkout process, and ensure your content is all mobile-friendly.

2. Personalize Communication

Google’s report on Gen Z says 26% of teenage shoppers expect brands to offer them a more personalized experience as a customer, whereas, only 22% of Millennials and 11% of Baby Boomers expect personalized journeys.

One of the easiest ways to provide a personalized shopping experience is through website personalization.

3. Make the Message Quick and Speak their Language

On average, Gen Z gives you just eight seconds to prove yourself to them as the best option.

They’ve grown up with enormous information and have learned how to skim through it.

To effectively exploit their buying power, you must communicate with a message that grabs their attention within this eight-second window.

4. Your Brand Should have a Purpose (Other than Making Money)

Gen Z is passionate about the world. They care about their environment and the socio-economic problems society faces today.

“It’s no longer okay for companies to be neutral on societal issues. They want brands to speak out. So, the bigger your company is, the more you have to do to gain and earn their trust. This is the generation that wants brands to have a purpose.”

Colea Weis — KPN

Based on a study conducted by the National Retail Foundation, 55% of Gen Z prefer eco-friendly brands.

But why do they want this? Research conducted by Google shows teenagers prefer brands that are an accurate representation of their values and meet their expectations.

Where do you go from here?

Determine your brand’s core values and show Gen Zers how you are contributing to society. 

Authenticity is key here. Don’t just say it, live by it.

“As long as a brand remains authentic and remains close to its values, drives this sort of attention, they’re in a good way to go with regard to Gen Zers and getting that engagement from them.”

Dimos Papadopoulos — PepsiCo

Let’s see how TOMS Shoes uses this approach.

For every shoe bought from them, they give back to society by supporting a child in need.

5. Video Content (Video Marketing)

Video Marketing, such as YouTube and Instagram, and especially Instagram stories,  is a valuable tool for marketing to Gen Z. Google research shows YouTube is the first platform Gen Z turns to when they want to be entertained.

Some YouTube Facts:

Other video content channels, like Snapchat and Instagram, can also help. These channels are the most popular for teens.

Study shows 71% of teens (13 to 17-year-olds) spend over three hours a day watching an online video on their smartphones.

These video channels are effective because Gen Z loves video. So, as a marketer targeting Gen Z, it’s time to look into video marketing. 

6. Respect their Privacy

According to NGEN, 88% of Gen Z agreed with the statement “Protecting my privacy is very important to me.”

They prefer sharing their personal information only with brands they trust to securely protect it.

Marketers or digital marketing experts targeting Generation Z should note this trend. Openly highlight your commitment to ensuring their information is safe.

7. Email marketing is still effective

Another way to reach Gen Z is through email. In a recent study by Campaign Monitor, 58% of those surveyed check their email more than once per day.

These may just be the avenues you need to grab their attention.

But be professional here.

Don’t be too quick to make a sale offer. Design your sales funnel, track open rate and click-through rate.

8. Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing is a great way to build your business. For marketing to Gen Z , that’s a huge potential brands should look into.

Research shows that 70% of teenage YouTube subscribers relate better to YouTube content creators than to traditional celebrities.

Another research study conducted by Fullscreen shows 44% of Gen Zers tried a brand promoted by “digital creators” (someone who gained fame  online), compared to 36% who tried brands promoted by celebrities.

If you have a low budget, you can reach out to smaller influencers. They may be willing to promote your brand in exchange for a free sample. Otherwise, you can reach out to other influencers in your niche for a small fee.

“Acknowledge that there are differences in the different age groups. If you’d like to run your marketing effectively and you have a small budget, then it’s better to group everyone together. If you have a bigger budget than you will experiment with, go ahead, break down those segments, and do the best that you can to cater for this generation.”

Dimos Papadopoulos — Pepsico

The Power of Personalized Marketing

Website personalization is the process of using information about your customers to deliver an individualized (personalized) experience.

For example, a website like Google might suggest specific content based on your search history. Another example is Amazon: they will suggest products to you based on your last search. These tools help customers feel welcome and understood.

Why Should You Look into Website Personalization?

A HubSpot study shows personalization increases conversion rates by 202%, but the benefits of website personalization go beyond revenue.

A personalized website can also help you: 

· Increase customer engagement

· Improve customer loyalty

· Increase lead generation

· Lower bounce rate

· Improve customer service

· Reduce marketing spend

To learn about how to personalize your website, click here to direct you to our latest article on website personalization.

Gen Z FAQs

What is the age group of Gen Zers?

Anyone born from 1997 to 2012

What are other names for Gen Z?

·         Post-Millennials

·         iGeneration

·         Homeland Generation

Who are Millennials?

 Anyone born between 1981-1996)

Who is Gen X?

Anyone born from 1965 to 1980

Tips and Reminders on How to Market to Gen Z

·         You must first understand that Gen Z won’t give you much time to prove yourself–you have only eight seconds to do so.

·         As a marketer, you must find new ways to engage with this generation if you want them to come to you. Website personalization is helpful here. Website personalization is the process of creating a unique experience for each visitor tailored to their specific needs, interests, and preferences.

·         Gen Zers currently make up about a quarter of America’s population. You cannot ignore such a large population cohort without also ignoring a potential increase in revenue.

·         Gen Z has a total buying power of around $200 billion

Strategies to Market to Gen Z: A Quick Recap

Here’s a recap of all the strategies we explained above:

· Be mobile-friendly—optimize your website

· Personalize communication (remember, Gen Zers have short attention spans)

· Make messages quick and peak their language

· Your brand should have a higher purpose (other than making money)

· Include entertaining and informative video content to engage Gen Zers

· Respect privacy

· Let Gen Zers make your brand their own

· Engage influencer marketing


The benefit of learning this is very clear: Gen Zers have a buying power of $44 billion. When you add to this, Gen Z’s influence on household purchases, their real buying power is around $200 billion. 

The key to successful Gen Z marketing is understanding how they are different from other consumer cohorts.

Take advantage of the strategies outlined above to see what results they can produce for your business. Not only will you see an improvement in revenue; you’ll create strong brand loyalty with Gen Zers, and future generations, too.

Christopher has a long history of driving value and creating personalized, omnichannel journeys that enhance customer experience. He's passionate about learning and development and has a keen interest in developing economies, especially ones with a lot of room for digital growth.