Looking to reach Gen Z? Here’s What CMOs Need to Know

By: Hope Richards, Media Director, Media+

Gen Z – the generation born between 1997 and 2012 – is the largest generation, making up 32% of the global population. They are also the first generation to have grown up with the internet, social media and smartphones as part of their everyday lives. Growing up in the digital age has impacted Gen Z behavior in many ways, making their attitudes towards brands and advertising quite different than those of more mature audiences like Boomers, Gen X and Millennials. For marketers looking to reach Gen Z, you need to know how to communicate with them, and here are a few ways to do so: 

Experiment with new and different platforms

While older generations may still enjoy tried and true advertising like traditional TV, radio, OOH and print, younger consumers are paying attention to different channels, avoiding advertising altogether or only tuning in for a very short period. Understanding these mindsets and behaviors is critical for brands so you can determine the best ways to reach them. According to a 2022 survey by Morning Consult, 54% of Gen Zers said they spend at least four hours daily on social media channels like Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, and YouTube, and 38% spend even more time than that. Marketers should spend a significant portion of their ad budgets creating engaging content that fits the format of these platforms. For example, influencer marketing can help you tap into Gen Z’s trust in peer recommendations, so look into partnerships with micro-influencers or influencers who have genuine connections with their followers. User-generated content (UGC) is also a great way to encourage Gen Z to create and share their own content related to your brand. It fosters a sense of community and authenticity, and it can help amplify your reach. Younger audiences also love two-way engagement from brands via these channels, so experiment with interactive content like quizzes, contests and more. 

Understand Gen Z’s shopping habits and reach them where they are most active

Gen Z is a mobile and digital-first generation so your advertising content must be optimized for mobile devices. They predominantly access the internet through smartphones, so your content should be easy to consume on small screens. When it comes to shopping, a survey by Statista noted that nearly 80% of Gen Z shoppers have purchased a product that they’ve seen in their social feed, and about half of global Gen Z shoppers feel that social platforms are better for finding out about new products than online searches. 

Authenticity is key

Gen Z values authenticity, and your brand needs to reflect this value to connect with them. Gen Z grew up in an era of fake news and social media influencers, so they are quick to spot inauthenticity. If you want to connect with Gen Z, you need to be real and transparent. Show them who you are and what you stand for, and they will be more likely to engage with your brand. 

Gen Z is also passionate about social issues, and they expect brands to be purpose-driven and socially responsible. Your brand needs to stand for something beyond just making a profit, so make sure to take a stance on social issues, whether it’s climate change, social justice or mental health. Show them that you are committed to making a positive impact on the world, and you’ll earn their trust and loyalty.

Leverage tools for personalization and segmentation

You shouldn’t assume all Gen Z-ers care about the same thing, so your media strategy cannot be one-size-fits-all. Work with a media agency partner that utilizes data-driven insights to personalize advertising messages and create content that speaks directly to the target audience’s interests and preferences. This could mean different channels and different messages. Take advantage of research tools to help you understand important questions such as: What does their media usage look like? What are their passion points? Where do they live? As you better understand the needs of different audiences, you can more effectively cater the channel, messaging and targeting accordingly.

As Gen Z continues to increase its spending power, these tips will give your brand a head start in successfully connecting and engaging with this influential audience. 

For more on maintaining your core customer base while also connecting with new audiences, see our blog post here.

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