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What Companies Need to Know to Market to Generation Z?

Move over, Millennials: Generation Z is the consumer group that everyone is after right now. And for good reason. These shoppers born between 1997 and 2012 already have a combined buying power of 143 billion dollars, and that number will only go up as more of them finish school and start working.   Generation Z   Gen Z is changing the rules of marketing. They use the internet differently, spend their money differently, and care about different things than people did in the past. Carmel Zein, Senior Marketing Manager at Yotpo, spoke with Kim Zorn, Global Performance Director at Princess Polly, Alyssa Thomas, eCommerce Manager at Aje, and Kate Massey, Head of APAC at Searchspring, about the challenges and opportunities of reaching the next generation of shoppers. Here are some of what they said.  

What makes Generation Z unique?


They are different and well-educated.

  Kim says, "They're the most educated and diverse generation there is." Pew Research Center data shows that only 52 percent of Gen Zers are non-Hispanic white. This is much less than the 61 percent of Millennials, 70 percent of Gen Xers, and 82 percent of Boomers who are non-Hispanic white. And compared to people in the past, they are less likely to drop out of high school and more likely to go to college.  

They were born in the digital age.

  Gen Z is the first generation to have grown up with the internet always available. But just because they know how to use technology and are always online doesn't mean they're easier to talk to. They know what they like and what they need to do to find content that fits what they like.   “One of the things I find really interesting is because they are that savvy, they’re training algorithms to show them more content that they enjoy through liking and commenting and sharing on the content that appeals to them,” says Kate.  

They really care.

  "Brand values" became a buzzword when everyone was talking about Millennials, but it's even more important when talking about Gen Z. The State of Brand Loyalty 2022 survey by Yotpo found that more than 90% of Gen Z shoppers are more likely to stay loyal to a brand whose values are similar to their own.   “They’re really a generation that wants to make a change,” says Alyssa. “And I think that’s quite evident, and they’re really determined to use their power to better the world we live in. What we’ve really established at Aje is that they really need more from us than just buying into our product. They want to know as a business, and what we are doing to make a change.”  

Tips from experts on how to market to Gen Z


Start with mobile in your eCommerce strategy

    Gen Z is always online, and most of the time, they're on a mobile device. Once, being mobile-friendly was enough for eCommerce brands, but if you want to reach younger customers, you need to be mobile-first and make sure that experience carries over to all of your other channels.   “As an eComm Manager, my biggest focus is really ensuring that our mobile site is seamless,” says Alyssa. “And the Gen Z customer is known to be shopping from device to device and from platform to platform. Just make sure that the customer feels like they’re getting that same on-brand journey from Instagram to the website to TikTok.”   Another mobile strategy is to really think about your SMS strategy as a whole and make sure you're not just sending the same messages over email or other channels. Use SMS as your main way to tell people about limited-time deals, transactional messages, updates to your loyalty program, and even special offers.   “There’s a lot of things that you can do wrong with SMS, but for us, SMS is one of the most powerful channels that we have in the business,” says Kim. “Our text club is like an exclusive club. They always get offers that you can’t find on the page. And I think what’s really important as well is personalization. We always include their name if we have it in the SMS. And we also use SMS-specific discount codes. So if we have a 25% discount offer, we use codes like SMSVIP25 or SMS25.”  

Use their fear of missing out (FOMO) against them

  Source: Rebellious   Gen Z shoppers don't want to miss out on a deal or an experience, so marketing with urgency is a good way to get their attention. One brand that does this well is The Oodie, which makes blankets that you can wear.   “They really look at capturing holidays and trends with new product drops. And they don’t just do new product drops — they do limited edition product drops,” says Kate. “So they create that scarcity piece as well, and that FOMO, that fear of missing out if they don’t take action before it sells out.”  

Rethink your plan for influencing people

    Getting a Kardashian to promote your product used to be a surefire way to make money, but that doesn't work on Gen Z. They want to see how a product might fit into their lives, so they want to see real people using it.   “It’s about being authentic and really connecting with relevant influencers that are in perfect alignment for the brand and that the audience can connect to,” says Kate.  

Make the customer's journey unique

  Because Gen Z has grown up with algorithms, they expect personalized customer experiences. If you want Gen Z customers to be loyal brand advocates, you need to make sure that every part of their experience is unique.   “We work a lot with personalization,” says Kim. “We tailor content to certain platforms, use native ads to engage our customers and just overall make it as engaging as possible and as interesting for them as possible.”  

Define your brand's values and back them up with actions

  Source: Boody   Gen Z wants to know what your brand stands for, and the answer will have a big effect on whether or not they're interested in what you're selling. But if you want them to buy, words aren't enough. Your brand needs to live those values, whether it's by working with a nonprofit on a project, donating a portion of sales, or planting a tree with every order. Sustainable clothing brand Boody is a good example of a brand that does this well.   “Their messaging is so consistently Boody,” says Kate. “It doesn’t matter where you’re seeing them or engaging with them. And it’s really hard not to fall in love with what they’re doing as a brand. And this is at every touchpoint — they’re communicating their brand values, and their positive impact on the planet, all the way through to recently announcing a partnership with world-renowned environmental Jane Goodall. That’s not your traditional influencer.”  

Gen Z makes brands better

  Gen Z may be more demanding than previous generations, but what they want—authenticity, making a difference, and a better customer experience—is what all brands should strive for. And if your brand becomes a favorite of this generation, like Princess Polly, Aje, The Oodie, or Boody, you'll know you're doing something right. That's doing a lot of good things.

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