Marketing to Gen Z presents brands with a unique challenge. This generation never grew up with the sweet sound of dial-up kicking in. They’ve never had to suffer through infomercials, or listen to music and send a text message on two separate devices.
But they know the internet better than any generation out there. Gen Z’s expectations of the buyer experience requires brands to be more nimble across all channels and more engaging on a personal level, offering noteworthy experiences and demonstrating consistent, non-stop value.
01 They’re Growing Up
Gen Z are becoming young adults who are constantly shaping their personal identities (and supporting brands who are like-minded). As of last year, they make up about 26% of the U.S. population—more than their millennial counterparts, who comprise just 22%. Gen Z’s spending power is $143 billion, which also outpaces millennials, who in 2017, were estimated to spend only about $65 billion.
Why This Matters: Your Bottom Line
Marketing to Gen Z gives you access to an incredibly lucrative segment. And if that isn’t tempting enough, keep in mind that many of these whippersnappers still rely on their parents for cash. And about 93% of Gen Z parents say that their purchases are influenced by their kids.
02 They’re Big Spenders
Not only is Gen Z’s spending power phenomenal (one more time for those in the back: $143 billion. With a “b”.), they also spend a good amount of what they earn—up to 75%, in fact. And back-to-college shopping (supported in part by loving parents) will be some of the biggest spends: close to $25.5 billion.
Why This Matters: Selectivity
Gen Z may be spending a lot, but they are picky about the brands they support and have little time or interest in content that they don’t deem relevant. If marketing tactics feel outdated or cookie-cutter, or promotions don’t offer perceived value, then 52% of Gen Zers will say, “Thank you, next,” and move on.
03 They’re Digitally Savvy and Experience-Focused
Gen Z are more digitally immersed than any prior generation. A quarter of Gen Zers will spend up to five hours or more on a smartphone each day, and four out of five say they get most of their information from their social media platforms. Keep in mind, though, that Gen Z places just as much value on the buying experience as they do on the product itself, which means they expect the same level of attention to detail, customer care, and special deals in-store and as they do digitally.
Why This Matters: Inconsistent Experience Brings Dissatisfaction
Brands that fail to do this (either with a coveted in-store experience but a poor online one, or vice versa) will quickly lose the interest of their Gen Z audience. An omnichannel marketing experience will capture their attention.
04 Zero Tolerance for Shady Marketing
Being as tech-savvy as they are, Gen Zers are highly skeptical about sharing their personal data online. Eighty-seven percent of Gen Zers say that keeping their personal information safe is more important to them than digital popularity. And with mishandling of consumer data becoming such a hot topic, Gen Z has every right to be nervous. They’ll seek out brands who practice transparency and build trust through invitation rather than dubious means.
Why This Matters: Brand Integrity
While effective marketing to Gen Z should include hyper-personalized digital experiences, it should also allow for them to connect with a brand their way. This earns trust and creates an organic brand ambassador who’ll solidify a company’s good reputation. In this kudos-seeking culture, that matters.
05 They’re Committed to Their Brands
Brand loyalty has a different meaning for Gen Z than it does for previous generations. Loyalty programs are becoming too nebulous, too general. Marketing to Gen Z, therefore, has to be more personal. Gen Zers want to connect with brands that:
- Share their personal values.
- Engage with them on a (perceived) one-to-one level.
- Provide marketing that feels exclusive and unique (like how Urban Outfitters rolled out a special gated offer for students during back-to-school season).
Why This Matters: Lifelong Brand Ambassadors
Once Gen Z finds a brand they love, they’re seriously committed—two out of three Gen Zers say that they’ll happily buy from (and organically promote) a favorite brand for years as long as their values align with the company’s and the quality of its products (and the marketing) remains high.