As the first to have truly grown up in the digital age, Gen Z has been consuming content as early as they can speak. They are tech natives that accede to the exchange of data for more customized online experiences as they value individual expression and avoid labels.
For brands to craft marketing messaging that resonates with this generation, they should be attentive to these three areas: consumption for individual identity, accessibility rather than possession, and matters of ethical concern.
As a result, how do we market to a generation that demands that brands speak to them and not at them?
Younger generations have grown up in an algo-driven landscape that makes personalized content akin to mind-reading. While 57% of millennials and 43% of baby boomers said they liked personalized ads, an overwhelming 81% of Gen Z said the same. They not only expect more control over the content they consume, but they also prefer to see ads based on their online activities and interests.
This means that these young cohorts of consumers are looking to social influencers for recommendations and inspiration and prefer user-generated content (UGC) over stylized ads. There is often more value in hearing about your product in a native way rather than in a hard-selling, intrusive way.
When we look at brand enthusiasm, Gen Z engages much more with companies that show authenticity and transparency. They want brands to be more human and relatable. In the digital era of brands clamoring for the buying power and attention of this generation, the engagement between the brand and the consumer should feel more like a casual conversation, which can display a brand’s understanding of consumer sentiment and fuel authenticity instead of corporate overreach.
Companies should be open to producing content and engaging with their users in open spaces, like the comment section of social media platforms, to build trust and a longstanding community of consumers.
As they grow older, 46% of those aged 19-21 have admitted to developing close associations or loyalty to brands as they begin to solidify their own identity and preferences. As a result, there is a small window of time for brands to create strong connections with these digital natives as they mature.
As the most racially and ethnically diverse generation in history, young people are growing up exposed to different cultures and backgrounds. Representation in the media has been a hot topic and this generation is demanding more diversity across all forms of media including advertisements. Brands that lean towards using less traditional models and more relatable influencers and content creators are able to speak to Gen Z in a way they associate with authenticity.
Unsurprisingly, most young people demand equal access to opportunities and social justice. Keep in mind that many will only work and buy from brands that contribute to a more inclusive and authentic world.
As we’ve established, the Gen Z community is unique and highly engaged. They expect brands to participate as active members of the community, and it's clear that the brands that integrate themselves best and build the most trust, are the ones that earn brand loyalty and maximize marketing success.