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Marketing to Gen Z: A Millennial’s Guide

For years, marketers have struggled to figure out how to reach the elusive millennials, the so-called digital natives who didn’t respond to traditional advertising methods. Now, millennials are the marketers. As 25- to 35-year-old members of the workforce, they’re increasingly in charge of decision-making and find themselves in the same boat as their predecessors: with no idea how to reach the younger generation. 

Don’t fear: It’s easier than you might think to reach the up-and-coming generation of consumers.

What to know about Gen Z

Millennials were often criticized for short attention spans and an obsession with selfies, but they pale in comparison to Gen Z. Growing up with constant access to the Internet and a smartphone in their pocket, Gen Z regularly consumes and creates content, but is quick to ignore anything that doesn’t provide value to them. They respond strongly to brand content that mirrors what they want to create: selfies, videos, and other authentic, organic content. 

While millennials were praised for their entrepreneurial spirit, Gen Z is particularly interested in forming their own brand and business. They’re good at crafting an online reputation, and they judge others in kind. Brands must step up their online brand to set themselves apart in Gen Z’s eyes.

What does this mean for marketers?

All this means that story-driven marketing is crucial to reaching Gen Z. They’ll respond well to campaigns such as video ads, Twitter events and Ask Me Anythings (AMAs), and calls for user-generated content (UGC). Thankfully, millennials helped shape a world in which a more authentic, content-driven approach is already normal for marketing campaigns.

However, millennial marketers also tend to hyper-focus on brand identity and visuals, social responsibility, and experimentation. These tactics may not work as well for Gen Z, who are more traditional despite their digital upbringing. Gen Z responds well to classic techniques such as ads and email marketing, but they also want to see great content. Marketers must tell a compelling story in their campaigns.

Best practices to keep in mind

Gen Z really likes to see other people rather than a faceless brand entity. Put your millennial love of cameras to work: Use video marketing to share testimonials from real customers, introduce your brand’s founder, or otherwise give Gen Z high-value content.

Remember, Gen Z has a short attention span, so keep it short and to the point. Millennials are great at turning a phrase, so put your wordsmith powers to good use. See if you can communicate your brand message in a concise, compelling tagline. Then, turn it into a hashtag and invite Gen Z to use it.

Keep the focus on smartphones. QR codes have come back into vogue, because Gen Z keeps their phone close at hand. QR codes give you an easy way to direct Gen Z consumers to your landing page or social media profile. 

Wrapping up

As a millennial, you’re uniquely poised to reach the next generation. At the same time, the things that matter to you — loyalty to brands, longform content, clever advertising campaigns — aren’t going to grab Gen Z’s attention. Gen Z is living a fast-paced existence, and your marketing efforts have to mirror that. Focus on delivering high-value, concise content on mobile platforms, and you’ll be best able to reach this up-and-coming generation.


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