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Marketing to Gen Z: What the New Wave of Consumers Want

Reading Time: 4 mins
By Published On: February 15, 20220 Comments

Generation Z is the first generation to be a complete stranger to life without the internet. And their digital upbringing has turned them into tech-savvy consumers who take their sweet time researching products and brands.

This socially-conscious generation wields $360 million in disposable income and is prepared to spend it.

While it’s about time you started marketing to them, Gen Z can be a tricky segment to market to successfully. So, we’ve broken it down into six separate tactics required to win over Gen Z’s repeat business 

One: Seek Out and Promote User-Generated Content

Gen Z prefers seeing actual customers in promotional materials: as many as 82 percent trust a brand more if they use real customers in advertising, while only 26 percent of respondents trust a company more if they feature paid spokespeople.

Considering 70 percent of Gen Z say product videos and photos are particularly helpful when making purchasing decisions, marketing to Gen Z should include a user-generated content (UGC) strategy that goes beyond written reviews. And thanks to social media, it’s easy to encourage your customers to share their experiences with your product. But you shouldn’t stop at highlighting UGC only on social media!

Through Retail Syndication, rug company Nourison was able to share visual UGC from social media to different retailer sites such as Target. Coupled with ratings and reviews, its UGC strategy resulted in a 4x increase in conversions and a 3x increase in revenue.

Two: Partner with Nano and Micro-Influencers

Although Gen Z favours real customers in advertising, this doesn’t mean you should give up on influencer marketing. Influencers still have influence — especially where smaller influencers are concerned.

As for influencers’ relationship with Zoomers, they wield considerable power. Gen Z is more likely than previous generations to make a purchase based on an influencer’s recommendation: 14 percent of 18-24-year-olds and 13 percent of 13-17-year-olds have bought a product because of influencer marketing.

Since the trend of marketing with smaller influencers is expected to grow in 2022, you shouldn’t underestimate the importance of finding the right influencer. Once you discover the right influencer, don’t take full creative control over the promotional posts. Zoomers dislike being sold to, and creators should retain their voice in sponsored content to avoid sounding salesy.

Three: Take a Stance on Social Issues

Long gone are the days when brands could avoid addressing pressing social issues such as systemic racism or climate change.

To the new generation, no stance is also a stance — and it can severely damage your reputation. 31 percent of Gen Z reports that they stopped buying from a brand that’s part of a social cause they don’t align with, and another 76 percent of Gen Z and millennials find it important to buy from brands that celebrate diversity.

There’s a fine line between showing social responsibility and empty ‘wokevertising’. Young people are experts at sniffing out the latter and don’t respond well to brands using social justice for pure self-promotion. So how can you take a stance on social issues without veering off into wokevertising territory?

The key to avoiding performative activism is to give careful thought and consideration to the causes you support and make sure their values are also reflected in the way you do business.

Four: Display Integrity and Authenticity

A 2021 Ernst & Young survey about Gen Z found young people value ‘trust, transparency and authenticity’ and will turn away from anything or anyone that appears inauthentic. Another reason why UGC works so well.

Admittedly, ‘integrity’ and ‘authenticity’ can quickly turn into buzzwords without meaning. In a practical sense, embodying these values means treating your customers as more than just a source of profit and not sacrificing long-term trust for a short-term gimmick.

Members of Gen Z are digital natives who don’t hesitate to share their thoughts on the internet when a brand disappoints them. And with recent research indicating 57 percent of Gen Z have less brand loyalty compared to the pre-pandemic era, there’s little room for error.

Five: Create Short and Snappy Video Content

Gen Z is known for having a penchant for video in their favourite social media apps. According to eMarketer, the most popular social networks among Gen Z are Snapchat, TikTok, and Instagram — all apps that rely heavily (if not exclusively) on video content.

The short video format of Reels, Snapchat, and TikTok means their userbase has grown accustomed to content that caters to their short attention spans. It also needs to be engaging, and feature music, special effects, or fun challenges users can copy.

Procter & Gamble did just that as they expanded their social media marketing on TikTok with a music challenge. They partnered with Jason Derulo for the campaign and the Bounty rap challenge spread like wildfire across the platform.

Six: Produce Marketing on Up-and-Coming Platforms

Outside of social media, Gen Z is gathering on digital communication platforms like Discord and Twitch, whose popularity exploded with the outbreak of the pandemic.

Often referred to as ‘Slack for Gen Z’, Discord is a chat platform. Brands that market to Gen Z are also flocking to the live streaming platform Twitch. According to Twitch, 64 percent of their users buy products based on influencer recommendations.

Experimenting with new strategies and channels like Discord is going to benefit you the most if you’re driven by building a genuine long-term connection with Gen Zers and not just increasing conversions ASAP.

Marketing to Gen Z Demands Careful Experimentation

As you’re adapting your business to the younger generation, consider which aspects of your marketing strategy are fit for a Gen Z revamp. Could you be more open about how your brand gives back and supports important causes? Are there any micro-influencers with strong ties to Gen Z you could team up with?

It’s no surprise that companies like E.l.f. and Fenty Beauty have so much clout with Gen Z — they visibly share their customers’ passions. That goes a long way in a world oversaturated with new products and brands all wanting the Gen Z seal of approval.

The e-commerce landscape is changing. With a Power Retail Switched On membership, you get access to current e-commerce revenue and forecasting, traffic levels, average conversion rate, payment preferences and more!

About the Author: Power Retail

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