Three Key Ways That GenZ Should Change Your Marketing Strategy

Did you know that  population research shows that in 2019, the group known as GenZ – those born after 1996 – will surpass Millennials in size?


They’ll make up nearly 1/3 of the population. They’re young (22 and under), but spend between $29 and $143 billion annually, and 93% of them impact their parents’ purchases. This demographic wields enormous purchasing power and enormous influence, and you, as a business owner or marketer, should pay attention to them. If you can market to them effectively, you have the chance to create brand loyalty now, which will yield return both in the present and in the future – just note that it’s harder to create loyalty with GenZ than with Millennials. 

But what exactly does “marketing to them effectively” mean?

GenZ-ers are different from every other generation so far because they’ve never known a world without technology and social media. They were born in the digital age and grew up with devices in their hands. For business owners and marketers trying to get GenZ users to become customers, this means that you have to adjust your methods. Here are the key characteristics of GenZ that should make you rethink your marketing strategy!


1. They want connection.


These individuals don’t want to be advertised to in the traditional way (26% use ad-blockers on their mobile devices), or at least they recognize advertisements immediately and can see right through the typical gimmicks. They don’t want more ads; they want a conversation they can participate in. Social media has given them a voice and a way to form relationships online, and both are critically important to them; take the dialogue away, and you lose their interest and respect (and their business). 

Here’s how you lean into the conversation:

        • You focus on messaging heavily. 52% of GenZ teens spend 3 or more hours per day on messaging apps. Facebook is even changing to increase Messenger’s prominence and advertising capability because it understands that conversation is important to the youngest and largest generation. 
        • You rewrite your ad copy to make it more conversational. Speak to them casually; sound less like an advertiser and more like someone they’d want to listen to/hang out with/meet. Talk about what they care about, not what you care about.
        • You participate in the larger conversation. Proceed with care here, because this can severely backfire, and often does, but not shying away from political and social hot topics can definitely work in your favor. Studies show that GenZ wants the brand they buy from to take visible stands on social issues. They just also want the brand to take stands on things that reflect their real values. Which brings us to the next defining characteristic of GenZ…

2. They need to trust you.


What this generation wants, arguably more than anything else, is authenticity. They want something real. This makes sense; they’ve been born into the most marketing-saturated age yet, and with so much information available at their fingertips, it’s difficult to sort through the smoke and mirrors, and they’re tired of that. They grew up watching their favorite YouTube influencers, not celebrities on commercials, so they like people(and brands) who they can observe are genuine.

Here’s how you gain their trust:

        • Be trustworthy. If you’re not, they will see through you – there’s nothing you can do to stop that from happening. You don’t need to be perfect, because they’ll accept imperfect, but what they won’t accept is deception. Make quality products. Offer good services. Don’t claim to value something that you don’t. Don’t make promises you can’t deliver on.
        • Get people they already trust to trust you. 65% of GenZ-ers say that they’ve made purchases based on an influencer’s recommendation. Those YouTube stars that they grew up watching? If you get those people on your side,  you have a much better chance of attracting these young consumers.
        • Highlight testimonials and reviews. Brand rep is a big deal for GenZ, because they’re naturally skeptical of your claims. 86% care about reputation and value positive online reviews when they’re making purchases online. If they don’t have anyone’s good word to go on but your own, they’re probably going to walk away.

3. They are always online.


Unlike their parents, they didn’t grow up only playing outside or with blocks, for better or for worse. They grew up (and are currently still growing up) using ipads to draw, or watch YouTube videos of other kids playing with toys, or binging Netflix.They got their social media accounts when they were pre-teens, and they have had a smartphone since about age 10. This changes everything about the advertising landscape. Any marketer knows that you need to reach your audience where they’re at, and GenZ is online, for multiple hours a day.

Here’s how you use this information to your advantage:

        • Optimize for mobile. The majority of GenZ-ers use their phone to shop, conduct searches, research brands and products, and pretty much everything else. If you have an outdated mobile experience, you’re hurting yourself.
        • Think visually. The digital word is visual. The users don’t want to read as much as older generations do – they want to see. (This makes perfect sense when you think about it; their need for authenticity makes them want to see what you’re offering for themselves, and their childhood hasn’t been as marked by chapter books as it has been by media.) Use images and video in your search ads and on your website to attract them, not large chunks of text that they won’t read.
        • Use social media well. 44% check their social media on an hourly basis. 54% have researched a purchase on social media. Most of them claim they can’t live without it. They’re looking for entertainment, not advertising, and they have short attention spans. You need to feed them content on social media that they actually want to see, that establishes your credibility, that invites them to speak, and that showcases your brand identity.

GenZ is complex, and marketing to GenZ requires a different way of thinking. It’s easy to want to lump them in with Millennials and assume because they are all young, they are all the same, but there are key differences. Taking the time to understand what GenZ wants and responds to, and then adjusting your efforts to reflect those characteristics, is going to make your business much more successful and lead to a higher ROI.


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Shea Duncan - Author

Director of Content Marketing

Shea is an expert content writer and is a classic literary nerd! She loves writing highly engaging content and has a knack for making it convert!