While it is true that Millennials are the largest demographic in the United States, the fact is, there’s a new generation right behind them with an even greater buying power and a different view of the world. So who is Gen Z?
Born between 1997 and 2012, Gen Z has always known a world where the internet was available to them 24/7. The older Gen Zers were online playing with Neopets and Webkinz. The younger members of this generation probably knew how to use a smartphone before they were potty trained. These digital natives live their lives online and that’s where your marketing dollars should go.
If you want to target Gen Z, you need to hang out where they are. Stop wasting time on Facebook; that’s where this generation’s parents (and grandparents) are. Think Instagram, YouTube, and Snapchat, social media platforms that are content-driven and image-focused.
To Meme or Not to Meme
Utilizing memes has been a popular tool for brands for a few years, but when using them to appeal to Gen Z, they could backfire. What’s popular right now, might be cringe-worthy tomorrow. Your younger audience will be able to tell if you’re trying to jump on the caboose of every meme train that goes by, and they will let you know about it by dragging you in the comments.
Micro-Influencers > Celebrities
Conducted by Rakuten Marketing, the 2019 Influencer Marketing Global Survey made it clear that working with influencers is more effective than traditional celebrities.
Some numbers to consider:
- Celebrity influencers make up just 28 percent of annual influencer spend compared to 40 percent for micro-influencers
- 88 percent of surveyed consumers have been inspired to purchase based on what they saw from an influencer
- Four in five surveyed consumers (81 percent) have made a purchase through clicking a link or image an influencer shared
- 66 percent of American consumers trust a product recommendation so long as the influencer discloses their relationship with a brand.
Working with micro-influencers also increases a brand’s authenticity. Gen Z knows that Kylie Jenner isn’t using all of the products she’s paid to show off on her Instagram. However, seeing a post from their favorite niche YouTuber with only 50,000 followers promoting a brand feels more genuine.
Conscious Marketing Isn’t Going Anywhere
Remember how popular brands like TOMS and Warby Parker were to Millenials when they launched in the late 00s and early 10s? Purpose-driven companies are even more important to Gen Z. Younger consumers want to spend their money on brands that share the same values as they do, and who are unapologetically vocal about it. However, similar to not using memes properly (but significantly worse) this could backfire on you. An example of how NOT to incorporate conscious marketing is Pepsi’s ad with Kendall Jenner where the billionaire model gives a police officer a can of Pepsi during a Black Lives Matter protest. Seen as out of touch and trivializing an important social justice movement, the backlash the soda giant received from this ad (which was pulled within 24 hours) was massive.
On the other hand, Patagonia’s shift to politically active marketing has been a major success. From its “Don’t Buy This Jacket” Black Friday campaign encouraging consumers to buy less on the country’s number one shopping day to changing its webpage to say “The President Stole Your Land and You Were Lied To” by protesting President Trump’s order to reduce the size of national monuments in Utah, Patagonia has found a winning formula that appeals to socially conscious Gen Zers.