With roughly 61 million 7 to 22-year-olds in the U.S., Gen Z becomes the largest generation this year. While the term “Gen Z” has been on the lips of marketers and retailers for several years now, they remain an enigma for many brands and retailers tasked with reaching them.
However, one undeniable truth about this generation is that they are poised to wield an enormous amount of influence and buying power in the coming years, making cracking the marketing code a necessity for brands hoping to remain relevant and profitable as millennials, boomers, and Gen Xers age.
At Brainly, our platform is predominantly used by Gen Zers, and because of this, I have uncovered a handful of emerging best practices that brands and retailers can use to craft marketing campaigns that appeal to them.
- Bite-sized, impactful content is king. To reach Gen Z, brands and retailers must create content that is relevant, emotionally-appealing, and brief. Much has been said about Gen Z’s short attention span, which currently hovers around 8 seconds, and the fact is, they simply won’t engage with lengthy content that doesn’t immediately grab them. As brands create ads around their products and services, it is important to show how your brand fits into Gen Zers’ lives right upfront. Otherwise, they are on to something else within 8 seconds.
- Give your company a purpose (other than making money). To Generation Z, your mission is as important as your product. At their core, Gen Z are savvy consumers who have recognized earlier than other generations just how important the balance between good for business and good for the world can be. They value a company that feels more like a partner in their lives, rather than just a means to a consumer product. If they buy into your mission, they will reward you with brand loyalty that goes above and beyond what other generations bestow on the brands they buy.
- Reach them on the platforms they’re already using. Gen Z uses more online platforms than any other generation and each platform has its own unique purposes. A great message on the wrong platform (or in the wrong format) is far less likely to reach them. For instance, Snapchat, Instagram and YouTube are the favored social channels for Gen Z, where they can share in-store experiences and post real-time content accompanied by eye-catching filters and geo-tags for their friends to see where they are. There is data to suggest Facebook is widely unused by Gen Z. Knowing these simple facts could save your marketing team from wasting countless hours and dollars creating campaigns on the wrong platform.
- Be real and be relevant. Generation Z wants to feel like the brands they buy from understand them on a real and intimate level. They are particularly adept at seeing through traditional marketing and are skeptical of being sold to. This explains why influencers are such a powerful marketing tool for them. They see in the influencers people who are like themselves using these products and finding value in them that extends to their real life. It is easy to see this as a new form of “keeping up with the Joneses” but it has a different tenor altogether. They aren’t trying to impress the people around them, they want to be impressed by a brand’s level of attention to who they are and what they want. And if they are impressed, they will keep coming back.
- Sell the experience and highlight convenience. Like millennials before them, Gen Z seeks out experiences more than products, which for many marketing professionals can feel anachronistic considering the consumer culture that has been built over the last few decades. Think less about the value of the product and more about the impact and relevance experiencing the product can have on the life of a Gen Zer. As mentioned earlier, relevance is important, and finding the through-line between your product and their lives is essential.
- Be inclusive and foster community. Gen Z is the most ethnically and culturally diverse generation to date, and they value diversity in their communities as well as the companies they decide to buy goods and services from. Make sure you’re being inclusive to people of all races, ethnicities, identities, and backgrounds– not just in your marketing, but in the way you do business and interact with your customers.
These are just a few emerging trends I have noticed over the past several years as this generation reaches maturity. There’s still a lot we don’t know about Generation Z as the youth of this consumer group means evolution is to be expected.
What I do know for certain, though, is that this group is critical for any brand’s longevity and paying close attention to how they behave, and what their values are will pay off in the long run.
Michał Borkowski is the CEO and Co-Founder of Brainly, the world’s largest online learning platform with over 150 million monthly users that’s disrupting education technology on a global level. He was only 16 when he started his first company, and he has been shaking up the internet ever since. After great success expanding Brainly into 35 countries, today Michal is focused on growing the company’s U.S. operations and reinventing the next generation of the product.