Marketing To Gen Z – Everything You Need To Know

Gen Z’s short attention span and natural distrust of brands makes marketing toward them a rather difficult task. Thanks to insights provided by agencies that specialize in Gen Z marketing, Agency Spotter was able to create this how-to-guide when it comes to marketing to Gen Z.

marketing to gen Z

Understanding This Generation

Gen Z is comprised of individuals born between 1995 and 2012. One of the key components that separates Gen Z from Millennials is that Generation Z can’t remember a time before the September 11 attacks.

Born to be Digital

Generation Z was born into a digital world. Technology comes very naturally to this generations as they’ve grown up with iPhones, social media, and so much more. They’ve always had the ability to access information whenever they please.

An Extremely Diverse Generation

In addition to being digitally native, research shows that Gen Z is the most ethnically and racially diverse generation in history. According to a study by the Pew Research Center, one in four is Hispanic, 6% are Asian, and 14% are African-American.¹

Why Your Brand Should Care About Gen  Z

Gen Z may not be your target demographic at this exact moment, but keep in mind that one day they will be. As of this year, Gen Z accounts for over one-third of the U.S. population.¹

According to an article by Fast Company, as of 2020, this generation makes up 40% of all consumers. Although Gen Z has limited spending power, they wield significant influence over family purchases,” said Lauren Milligan, Director of Digital Strategy at DEKSIA. 

As a marketer, it’s important to understand just how persuasive Gen Z is within their families. Studies show that they influence 70% of family food purchases and 80-90% of other purchased items.²

Gen Z Seeks Authentic Brands

When I asked agency professionals what this generation looks for in a brand, there was an overwhelming response about authenticity. To market to Gen Z, it is crucial to understand that sincere interaction is vital.

“Above all, keep brand interactions real because Gen Z can spot fake quickly.”

    – Jennifer Streck, VP of Client Strategy, Response Media

“Gen Z seeks authenticity and will walk away from brands they feel are intrusive or not true to their mission.”

    – Matt Hogan, Research Manager, Hoffman York

“Members of Gen Z look for authenticity in brand voice. If it isn’t your brand’s voice to sound like a younger person, don’t try to push it— Gen Z can identify inauthenticity within marketing with ease.”

    – Mikhail Alfon, President/Co-Founder, Blue Light Media

How to Create an Authentic Brand

marketing to Gen Z

One of the best ways to create an authentic brand is through voice. Mikhail Alfon, the President/Co-Founder of Blue Light Media explained, “Using a voice that is relatable and authentic, yet still lighthearted and humorous is incredibly crucial for building trust with Gen Z.”

As mentioned earlier, this generation is digitally native. Because of this, they can easily spot any insincere attempt of brands trying to connect with them. And, trying to deceive this generation can be downright dangerous for your company.

Keep Your Promises

Gen Z can easily spot inauthenticity within your marketing which is why it is so important that your brand keeps its’ word. If you make a promise, then this generation fully expects it to be fulfilled.

“The biggest “don’t” with this generation is don’t try to B.S. them.”

    – Matt Hogan, Research Manager, Hoffman York

Matt Hogan, Research Manager at Hoffman York added, “The biggest “don’t” with this generation is don’t try to B.S. them. Brands that are all talk and no walk in areas that Gen Z cares about (like social causes) will be exposed.” He added, “Without the proper investment, these promotions will be seen as hollow and actually hurt the brand’s image more than if they did not engage at all. Being fake is worse than not being there at all.”

However, if a brand does follow through with its promise to support a social cause, it will be rewarded with the Gen Z’s brand loyalty.

Gen Z Seeks More Than Just Products

ben & jerry's BLM

One of the best ways to capture the attention of Gen Z is by creating content that promotes more than just your brand. Alfon mentioned, “Bring content into the mix that is socially aware and speaks to the values your brand holds.”

This generation is full of activists and are belief-driven consumers. They fully expect brands to take a stance and speak out on social issues. A survey conducted by BBMG and Globescan found that Generation Z is more likely than other [generations] to call on brands to make a difference.³ As a result, Gen Z tends to navigate towards companies that engage in corporate social responsibility.

Gen Z Marketing Strategies

Interactive Content

If you want to attract the attention of Gen Z, then creating interactive content is a must. Take advantage of platforms that have interactive features. Milligan emphasized, “Gen Z WANT your posts to ask them to participate. Swipe. Click. Tap.” 

Giveaways, polls, and quizzes are just a few great ways to encourage this generation to engage with your company. However, when designing this content it’s important to consider which platforms your brand should be posting on. Generation Z is most active on Instagram, TikTok, and Snapchat.

Humanize Your Brand

Let’s be honest, consumers don’t trust brands and this is especially true for Gen Z. By taking the time to humanize your brand, you can create a better sense of trust.

When asked to explain a potential marketing strategy aimed at targeting Gen Z, Jennifer Streck, VP of Client Strategy at Response Media mentioned humanizing your brand. She said, “Give them real, personal interactions, and don’t forget to humanize your brand—they love to see day-in-the-life, behind-the-scenes images of brands.”  

Profit – People – Planet

As mentioned earlier, Gen Z wants to support businesses that take a stance on social issues. Hogan from Hoffman York said it best, “Gen Z expects their brands to support them by providing more than just products or services, but by helping the world around them. The Triple Bottom Line (Profit – People – Planet) will be more important than ever when trying to attract Gen Z.”

Find Agencies That Specialize in Gen Z Marketing

Sometimes the best option to navigate marketing towards this generation is by finding a partner that can help you. Did you know that with Agency Spotter you can search for agencies by audience speciality. This is the perfect way to find a partner that can help your company appropriately market towards Generation Z.


¹ Pew Research Center | ² Fast Company | ³ BBMG and Globescan |

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Nicole Schuster
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