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The Ultimate Guide to Engaging Gen Z

By March 31, 2022No Comments

Over the past decade or so, digital marketers have been channelling most of their energies into engaging millennials. In many ways, this was smart. As some of the first digital natives, millennials were often the most receptive to new forms of digital advertising and purchasing models.

Time has a funny old habit of catching up with us, however, and the youngest millennials are now approaching their 30s and plucking their first grey hairs.

Enter Gen Z. As we progress further into the 2020s, digital marketers will need to adapt to the needs and desires of this younger cohort. With many Gen Zers (a.k.a. ‘zoomers’ or ‘centennials’) stepping on the career ladder, their spending power is quickly increasing. According to recent stats, Gen Z’s spending power adds up to around $323 billion. What’s more, Gen Z will make up almost a third of the US workforce by 2030.

So, how can you make the most of this shift? If today’s Gen Zers make you feel like an ancient relic, don’t fret. You don’t have to be versed in the latest TikTok memes or understand the 👁👄👁 emoji to engage Gen Z effectively.

To help you get started, we’ve put together a comprehensive guide to marketing to today’s youth.

Who makes up Gen Z?

Definitions of Gen Z can vary. As a ballpark idea, however, they’re the generation born between 1996 and 2012. The oldest Gen Zers have already finished college and are making their way up the career ladder, while the youngest are entering their teen years and beginning to receive allowances from their parents.

In terms of demographics, Gen Zers are the most racially diverse generation in US history, as well as the least likely to identify as heterosexual. Recent census findings show that around 48% of Gen Z is non-white, and 59% say they have friends of a different sexual orientation.

Generation Z’s politics are also more socially liberal than past generations, considering itself more open-minded and willing to support social justice movements such as Black Lives Matter. Marketers will need to account for these tendencies when drawing up effective campaigns that speak to the needs of Gen Z.

Why are members of Gen Z so important?

It may seem tempting to lump Gen Z in with millennials when creating marketing strategies. After all, millennials are similarly interested in issues such as social justice, right? Well, not quite. Gen Zers are more sensitive to cultural insensitivities and more passionate about changing society than millennials. The world today is, after all, more volatile and confusing than the relatively stable world in which millennials came of age.

Having grown up amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and an increasingly worrying climate crisis, Gen Z is ready to adapt to whatever life throws at it. Gen Zers are also much more likely to feel passionate about making a change in the world, learning independently, and pursuing innovation and entrepreneurship. Soon, they’ll be decision-makers and leaders, so it’s vital you get them onside!

An amazing 53% of Gen Z workers are freelancers, meaning young people are adapting to a shifting economy and rejecting the demands of the traditional 9-5. So, marketers need to consider how the changing shape of work will affect their goods, services, and engagement strategies.

10 tactics for engaging Gen Z

Okay, now you know a little more about what Gen Z is all about, what practical steps can you take to enhance brand engagement? Here are a few savvy tactics to try today:

1. Create some ‘snackable’ visual content

Gen Zers have an average attention span of 8 seconds, down from millennials’ average of 12 seconds. So, marketers only have a tiny window of opportunity to capture their attention. One of the best ways to create snappy content is via visual media, such as Instagram posts and short-form videos. TikTok is quickly becoming the go-to social media platform for Gen Zers, so it’s worth creating very short videos to market your campaigns and get young people onside. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Product teasers: Promote your products through dynamic videos. Don’t be afraid to inject your content with some edgy humor, as it could end up going viral!
  • User-generated content: Gen Z are much more willing than previous generations to share their brand experiences on TikTok and other social media sites. Remember to leverage this phenomenon!
  • Explainer videos: Super-short instructional videos will provide genuine value to your audience while encouraging sales.
  • Messages from the CEO: According to a survey by Sprout Social, around 70% of consumers feel better connected to brands whose CEOs are active online. Bitesize video messages from your CEO could add a healthy dose of authenticity to your brand image.

2. Emphasize social impact!

If you’re only going to make one difference to your marketing strategy, it should be this one! According to the latest Pew Research study into generational divides, Gen Z is more interested in tackling issues such as racial inequality, climate change, homophobia, and transphobia than previous generations.

What’s more, Gen Zers view their consumption habits as an extension of their own beliefs. Almost 80% of 18–34-year-olds, for example, expect brands to express progressive opinions surrounding racial justice. Meanwhile, 97% of Gen Z have altered their consumption practices to protect the environment.

So, how can you make the most of these trends and demonstrate that your brand is socially responsible? Here are a few ideas to try:

  • Thoroughly vet your brand partners: This may seem like an obvious point, but you’d be surprised how many brands fail to vet their business partners! As well as avoiding oil companies or brands marred by scandal, you should look closely at their production processes and how they source their materials. Any scandalous revelations could reflect badly on your brand.
  • Set up a social impact initiative: There are tons of low-cost ways to boost the social impact of your brand. You could, for example, give employees time off to pursue volunteering activities. Donating money to good causes related to your sector is another great way to demonstrate your corporate social responsibility (more on this in a second). Whatever you decide to do, just remember to shout about it on social media and across your marketing collateral!
  • Keep a calendar of awareness days and social justice events: From International Women’s Day to World Mental Health Day, there are plenty of national and worldwide events to respond to as a marketer. You don’t have to go overboard, but showing solidarity with marginalized groups at opportune moments is a great way to engage Gen Zers. You could, for example, send out some thoughtful tweets or alter your logo for a day or so (just think about how many brands embraced the rainbow flag during Pride Month!)
  • Demonstrate your green credentials: Branding your company as eco-friendly has never been more vital, particularly if you want to engage young people. Obviously, you’ll need to ensure your operations are genuinely eco-friendly or at least move toward greener solutions before you start an eco-campaign. Once your operations are in order, you can start creating content about your brand’s green strategies.

3. Try Views for Change

While the techniques explored above are great for boosting your social justice credentials, they can sometimes be tricky to execute in a timely fashion. Fortunately, it’s possible to implement an attractive corporate giving strategy with minimal effort thanks to Views for Change!

Views for Change is a platform that rewards interactions with your paid ads with charitable donations! We take care of all the technical stuff – all you need to do is choose a charitable cause that aligns with your brand goals and promote your good work across a range of marketing channels. We work with all types of businesses, including marketing agencies, tech brands, eCommerce companies, and more!

If you’re looking to kickstart your Gen Z engagement strategy quickly and effectively, we’re here to help. As well as organizing your donations and ads, we work hard to ensure your brand meets Charity Law requirements and provide granular data about the efficacy of your advertising campaigns.

4. Alter your social media strategy to suit Gen Z’s habits

Gen Z is in the fortunate position of having learned from millennials’ online mistakes. Today, it’s very clear that seemingly minor mishaps or miscommunications on social media can spiral into embarrassing scandals. As a result, young people are far more conscious of their digital footprints and prefer to stay out of the limelight. Over half of Gen Z prefers to remain anonymous online.

So, how can they achieve such anonymity in today’s “always-on” world? Well, Gen Z tends to shun Facebook and Twitter in favour of more anonymous social platforms like Whisper, Snapchat, and Secret. They’re also a little less willing to post publicly on branded posts, preferring direct messaging and chatbot functions. The solution to this is relatively simple – diversify your marketing strategies across a range of social media channels and encourage audience members to reach out via private messaging platforms.

5. Fill your visual marketing materials with a diverse range of people

Thanks to changing attitudes surrounding race and an ever-growing body positivity movement, Gen Zers don’t want to see marketing materials plastered with stick-thin white women. In fact, 71% of Gen Z would like to see more diversity in advertising.

When selecting models for your campaigns, try to hire a diverse range of people, including those who don’t fit traditional beauty norms. If possible, you could even use a selection of your own employees. This strategy could make your brand look more authentic and trustworthy – both highly valued traits among Gen Z!

6. Offer personalized experiences

Did you know that 44% of Gen Zers will offer up their personal data in exchange for personalized experiences? This data could be super useful for converting leads into sales, so think carefully about how to tailor your marketing campaigns and services. Potential tactics could include:

  • Quizzes: Why not create a personalized quiz that encourages people to invest in your products? Say, for example, you sell different types of coffee. You could create an interactive quiz titled “What type of coffee bean are you?” or “Match your coffee to your personality!”. Gamifying the consumer journey in this way is a great way to engage younger people.
  • Online personal shoppers: Today’s chatbots are more sophisticated than ever, with some even offering personalized shopping experiences. Prompting site visitors with questions like “What are looking for today?” could help increase sales.
  • Virtual try-ons: Beauty and fashion companies could boost sales by offering virtual try-ons. Allowing users to upload their own images and try on clothes, accessories, or beauty products is an excellent way to gamify the customer experience. You could also try this with interior design products or other types of visually-oriented goods.

7. Be transparent

According to a recent survey, over 90% of Gen Z are willing to pay more for brands that are transparent and authentic. So, what does this look like in practice? Naturally, you should avoid making unsubstantiated claims on your marketing materials and add any necessary disclaimers. It’s also a good idea to ensure your customer service team is active on social media and responds to customers in a polite and timely fashion. Avoiding public complaints posted online will make your brand look evasive and rude.

8. Don’t forget to email!

Despite being one of the oldest digital marketing channels in the book, email is still going strong as one of Gen Z’s preferred communication methods. According to recent stats, almost 60% of Gen Zers check their emails more than once a day, and only 0.98% never check their emails. So, there are plenty of opportunities for you to reach out to Gen Z via traditional email marketing.

But what should you include in your emails? According to the same study, almost 70% of respondents open emails containing special offers, 60% open emails containing relevant content, and over 36% open emails with personalized subject lines. So, try to engage young people with discounts and high-quality content that resonates with their everyday experiences. Again, this probably means emphasizing your brand’s social impact and informing them about your latest charitable campaigns.

9. Make the most of influencer marketing

An amazing 45% of Gen Zers follow over 10 influencers on social media. As a marketer, you can make the most of this by building strong partnerships with influencers willing to promote your goods and services in exchange for a fee.

When scouting influencers, try to find popular social media figures with an interest in your sector. It would be pointless to team up with a beauty influencer, for example, if you own a food and beverage company. You should also avoid approaching influencers with very high numbers of followers. They may ignore your requests or demand very high fees.

10. Pay attention to the latest trends

Last but not least, you should try to stay on top of the latest Gen Z trends. While this may seem tricky (particularly if you’re a Gen Xer!), there are plenty of ways to tap into current trends and create campaigns that speak to Gen Zers’ interests. Top tips include:

  • Speak to younger colleagues: Don’t be afraid to ask your younger colleagues about the latest trends affecting their generation.
  • Set up some focus groups: Inviting loyal customers to take part in a focus group could provide valuable data about where you’re going right and wrong with your marketing strategies.
  • Run a survey: Surveys are relatively easy to set up and could yield interesting results. Of course, you’ll need to provide some incentive to encourage people to get involved. This could include discounts, freebies, or the chance to enter a competition.
  • Follow Gen Z on social media: Young people are using social media in new and innovative ways. Follow them to see what’s trending!

Which brands are winning with Gen Z right now?

Some brands are way ahead of the game when it comes to engaging Gen Z. You could learn a thing or two from their marketing strategies! Here are just a few of our favorites:

  1. Ulta Beauty

Ulta Beauty prides itself on stocking cruelty-free products and emphasising the importance of natural beauty. Much of Ulta Beauty’s marketing collateral highlights the brand’s ethical practices and features a range of diverse models. With Gen Z consumers keen to shop with brands willing to take a stand on social issues, Ulta Beauty has aced its messaging.

Have a look at their new ‘Muse’ campaign.

Muse Advert - Ulta Beauty - Gen Z Example
  1. Vans

While millennials and Gen Zers may imagine Vans footwear to be outdated, they couldn’t be more wrong! Today, the company emphasises the genderless and sustainable aspects of their shoe designers to speak to the younger generation. What’s more, the brand is willing to use social media platforms such as Snapchat to market its goods. Sure, Vans may have been popularised many decades ago, but they’re not going anywhere fast!

  1. Adidas

Adidas is another old-school brand that has managed to adapt to the changing demands of Generation Z. Having abandoned traditional forms of television advertising in 2017, Adidas channels all of its energy in digital (especially mobile) advertising. As a result, it has adapted to the emergence of new social platforms such as Triller and TikTok, as well as influencer marketing.

Adidas has also altered its messaging in line with the progressive beliefs of Gen Z. For example, the brand recently opened a gender-neutral flagship store in London to demonstrate its support for gender fluidity.

  1. Ben and Jerry’s

Ben & Jerry’s has long been famous for its socially progressive advertising campaigns. As early as 1985, the company launched a foundation to fund community-oriented projects and support marginalised communities. As you’re well aware, Gen Z adores such community-minded projects, meaning Ben & Jerry’s has really come into its own. Most recently, the brand launched a new flavour called “Change is Brewing”, which celebrates innovative approaches to enhancing public safety.

'Change is Brewing' Ben & Jerrys  - Gen Z Example
  1. Spotify

Spotify knows how to make the most of Gen Z’s love of personalisation. As you may be aware, the brand’s “Wrapped” campaign harnessed user data to create shareable reports about subscribers’ listening habits. It was a simple trick that managed to create a flurry of social media activity. As social media users posted their results on platforms such as Twitter, millions of people around the world were exposed to the Spotify brand. How about that for a cheap, quick, and effective marketing campaign?!

  1. Levi’s

Who doesn’t love a good pair of Levi’s? They’re affordable, flattering, and totally timeless. What’s more, they’re made to last, unlike many of today’s fast-fashion items. To capture the attention of Gen Z, therefore, most of Levi’s recent marketing campaigns have centered on the brand’s eco-credentials. By investing in a pair of Levi’s, they suggest, consumers can reduce their impact on the environment. The company even enlisted the help of big names such as Jaden Smith to hammer the message home.

Check out Views for Change today!

Are you ready to transform your marketing strategy and gain the loyalty of Gen Z?

Great news! We at Views for Change are ready and waiting to enhance your marketing strategy. Investing in our intuitive platform is a great way to improve your brand’s reputation and speak to the social concerns of today’s amazing young people. To find out more, don’t hesitate to get in touch today!

Nicola Telford

CEO & Co-Founder of Views For Change.

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