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How Digital Marketers are Creatively Engaging the Lucrative Gen Z Market

How Digital Marketers are Creatively Engaging the Lucrative Gen Z Market

You've probably heard of that new generation sparking trends within every industry: the Gen Zers. Yes, the group that's caused a stir walking down the street in oversized jeans making TikToks are the same group dictating what brands should and shouldn't be doing when it comes to purchasing trends.

And brands should start listening to the younger generation. We need to engage with the Gen Zers creatively, and the marketers below bestow advice to break into this lucrative market.

Mobility equals visibility.

Gen Z is always on the move and digesting media. TripleLift Product Marketing Director Rachel LaMura calls this next-generation "Movers and Shakers."

"They record and watch their lives play out in real-time, resulting in sharing social media platforms like TikTok and Snapchat into video-first apps," she said. The brands that fit into their lifestyles are the ones that follow suit with being as vibrant and dynamic as the crowd is. Gen Z is setting the trends and dictating what works and what doesn't for brands and trends. LaMura believes capturing the cohorts' fleeting attention relies on brands leaning into video formats. If the message hits, this generation's online power can send it viral.

Gen Zers also always have a phone in hand. "Gen Z is not willing to wait for brands that cannot keep up," said Founder and CEO of Epicenter Experience, Paul Krasinski. "The key to advertising to them is having a strong mobile strategy and integrating content into daily routines."

Mobility creates brand affinity and adoption. By being where Gen Z is, there is a greater probability that content will be shared among their network of friends and access audiences that most cannot control. Krasinski recommends that brands need to evolve to keep up with this young generation, "Don't stay old school, become mobile," he said.

[Related: Six Lessons to Prepare Inclusive Leaders of Tomorrow]

Be the change-maker.

Gen Z isn't waiting to take action on issues to become change-makers. They are looking to do the right thing for humanity and put their best foot forward. Hannah Fastov, Founder and CEO of lifestyle brand Go Dash Dot, created the Renew A Life program, in which she asks her customers to send gently used bags to donate to Dress for Success.

Fastov has educated others throughout the program by acknowledging the importance of recycling and reusing products and empowering other women to reach financial independence. "It is critical to winning their hearts by showing them that you care about what they care about: humanity and the environment, values we can all stand behind," she said.

Nineteen-year-old personal stylist and social justice advocate David Ruff is making his mark by combining his love of fashion with social rights issues. As an openly gay teenager, Ruff teamed up with brands like Erno Laszlo, Nordstrom, Ugg, and Exuviance in various pride campaigns. He recently worked with American Eagle to promote the 2020 election to urge fellow Gen Zers to show up to the polls. "Gen Zers are the most socially aware and conscious group of consumers, in my opinion," he said. Ruff believes if you are a brand looking to support a cause or make a change, this is the generation you want investing in you.

Brands should be listening to the generation, and they want to be heard. Krasinski notes Gen Zers want to have a voice and know they are influencing the world. "An inability to listen and truly, deeply hear and see this audience will create an allergic reaction to the brand," he said. Be deliberate and bold about ways you as a brand create opportunities for Gen Zers to be heard, interact with your execs directly, and give them a sense that they are part of the innovation process to make the next big thing.

"Gen Z has an incredible outlet to sing your praises," he said. "Social channels will light up, heralding your brand. Try it."

[Related: Break Down the Walls: Sharing Knowledge is Power]

Spot the frauds.

Gen Z is great at sniffing out authenticity. If you're a brand that is not genuine about what you're doing, they will know. Gen Zers want to identify on an emotional level with brands they are spending their money on.

Brands should focus on videos that showcase the process of making their products, and this gives Gen Zers a chance to connect with an actual person and develop trust within the brand. Creating an engaging Q&A with the brand's founder, story, and design and development process in digestible videos formatted specifically for TikTok or Instagram Reels is necessary for brands to build that connection.

Gone are the days of projecting ideas. Consumers want to see the imperfections and the authenticity of what is going on. This diverse generation is embracing its uniqueness. "They want to see brands representing the world as it is today," said LaMaura. "This generation has grown up in a digital world, therefore dissecting advertising messages, and aren't afraid to challenge claims. Brands should deliver messaging that reflects who their real buyers are and the specific - and authentic - benefits they can provide." Get it right, and Gen Z will have no choice but to spend.

Transparency is vital to capture the attention of Gen Zers. Ruff says that brands need to be asking themselves questions like "What ingredients or materials are brands putting in or leaving out of their products? What is the diversity breakdown of the brand - both behind and in front of the camera?"

Ambiguous, murky messaging won't cut it anymore for brands looking to form long-term relationships with Gen Z consumers. Through short-form videos, interactive polls and feedback forums, and meaningful influencer-led campaigns, brands can improve upon these critical points. Brands need to utilize their social media channels and ambassador programs as a space to listen to old, new, and potential consumers.

[Related: To Shatter Glass Ceilings, Spread These Four Messages to Young Women]

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Olivia Liveng (nee Balsinger) is an experienced storytelling coach, brand strategist, entertainment producer, and Liveng Public Relations CEO, an agency amplifying hospitality, tourism, and female voices. She's also an award-winning travel journalist, with bylines in Fodors, Forbes, New York Post, and Business Insider, and LA Style. Find her on Instagram at @livliveng.

Carly Orris is a freelance writer and publicist based in New York. Her writing focuses on female empowerment, travel, entertainment, and lifestyle. Find her on Instagram at @carlyorris.


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