By next year, Generation Z will account for 40% of all customers, according to a Fast Company report. Although their current buying power is just $44 billion, if you also add the influence they have on their parents’ spending, it increases to a whopping $600 billion. This makes them one of the most powerful consumer forces on the market today.
So, how do you adapt your marketing strategy to a young audience made up of digital natives who are notorious for having a short attention span? The secret lies in understanding your consumer and delivering fresh, meaningful content that they can relate to.
What do Gen Z consumers value in a brand?
Every successful marketing strategy should be deeply rooted in Data Analytics. In order to create killer content that can go viral, you need to understand what Gen Z expects from brands and to what extent your brand overlaps with these expectations. Otherwise, there will be a clear disconnect between what you are offering and what customers need.
Contrary to popular belief, Generation Z isn’t all about buying trendy, luxury products and they are, in fact, quite sensible shoppers. According to recent research, these are the factors that drive Gen Z purchases:
- Reasonable price: 46%
- High quality: 39%
- On trend: 9%
As you can see, the price remains an important factor and young people are actually quite averse of “luxury” products that don’t live up to their standards. For example, when popular YouTube creator and Instagram influencer Zoella sold Christmas advent calendars for £50, her followers were the first to criticize her for the price/quality ratio. The same happened to Kyle Jenner, whose $360 brush sets delivered the same quality as a $30 Boots equivalent.
But that doesn’t mean Gen Z consumers don’t appreciate or purchase luxury goods. They do if brands offer premium quality for that price and live up to ethical business practices, as proved by the popularity of Fenty, Patagonia, and Adidas.
Types of Content to Engage Generation Z Clients
The type of content that Generation Z consumes is very different from the one preferred by Gen X and even Millennials. Some argue that young consumers don’t like quality content, but this isn’t true at all. Even if the attention span of Gen Z-ers is shorter (about 8 seconds), quality and value are very important to them. Generation Z doesn’t just want mindless entertainment. On the contrary, they are smart, curious individuals who want to learn from brand interactions and receive meaningful content. For you as a marketer, the challenge comes from delivering all this in a very short time.
But don’t worry, these formats can help you engage with Generation Z customers:
Real stories about your staff – these show that you’re more than a corporation and that you care about the human element in your company.
Behind-the-scenes videos – these give them a glimpse into your daily operations, get to know you at a more intimate level, and build a connection.
How-to content – quality content shouldn’t just sell. It should also educate and inspire young audiences, and this is where how-to videos can be very useful.
Snapchat and Insta stories – perfect for announcing new products, offering a sneak-peek into your headquarters and delivering fun, spontaneous videos.
You already know that social media is the favorite means of interaction for Gen Z-ers, but keep in mind that not all networks are the same. Lately, teenagers and young adults have been steering away from Facebook, and are more interested in Instagram and Snapchat. Also, make sure you adapt the content format. If you post videos, keep them short and sweet, or deliver them in bite-sized chunks on Snapchat and IG TV.
Best Strategies for Creating Content for Gen Z
When creating content for Generation Z, you can let your creativity run free and push the boundaries of traditional marketing, because young audiences love brands that have something different to say. Stephanie Cooper, head of marketing at Top Writers Review, explains: “Whether you connect with Gen Z customers via email or social media, you need to find a way to stand out. Gen Z-ers are bombarded with hundreds of messages from brands every day and if they don’t find your message remotely interesting or meaningful, they will ignore you.”
Demonstrate social responsibility
An IBM study conducted in collaboration with The National Retail Federation revealed that Gen Z is more concerned about the environment and social causes than any other generation. More than half of young consumers choose brands that are ethical, inclusive, eco-friendly, and give back to the community.
Create meaningful interactions
Unlike Millennials, Gen Z isn’t motivated by rewards programs to stay loyal to a brand. To boost loyalty, you need to create meaningful interactions. Your content needs to serve a deeper purpose and offer value to the viewer. Attention and care for the customer should transpire through every ad you create.
Gen Z grew up with the Internet and they’re better than anyone at spotting fake news and generic advertising tactics. Create fun, friendly, relatable content that appeals to them and stays true to your brand values.
75% of Gen Z-ers use prefer using smartphones and 53% of them use their phones to make online purchases, according to IBM. Make sure your website, videos, and emails are optimized for mobile devices, otherwise they won’t have an impact.
Mistakes to avoid
Even with the best intentions at heart, it’s easy to miss the mark and create content that has the opposite effect to what you were hoping. Unfortunately, there are many examples of brands who thought they knew their customers and launched exaggerated marketing campaigns that weren’t at all rooted in reality. The reason for this is a disconnect between what corporations imagine Generation Z is like and what they’re actually like.
Here are some practices that you should avoid when creating content for Generation Z:
Don’t use corporate jargon
There’s a time and a place for fancy phrases like “industry-leading professionals”, “expand our competence”, “end-to-end digital integrations”. They’ll look great in a leaflet for business partners, in an official press release, or in a meeting with investors, but don’t expect the younger audience to be seduced by these terms. They’re too cold, impersonal, and not relatable in any way.
Don’t go over the top
At the other end, there are businesses who know that industry jargon is bad, so they try really hard to speak the language of Generation Z by overusing memes, emojis, and whatever topic is trending at the time. Only a handful of companies have managed to pull off dabbing references and Internet culture. Most of the time, this kind of content doesn’t age well, is usually cringy, and might end up on the Fellow Kids subreddit.
Don’t forget to test your campaign
Take one of the most popular drinks ever (Pepsi), a young model and influencer (Kendall Jenner) and a cause that Gen Z cares about (protests). On paper, it’s the recipe for an amazing marketing campaign. In reality, Pepsi’s commercial sparked so much outrage and controversy that the company was forced to pull it. The problem was that Pepsi was so confident they knew young people that they didn’t bother to check the script with an appropriate audience and the result was embarrassingly bad and disrespectful towards protesters.
Creating content for Generation Z can be tricky because of the age and culture difference between them and marketers. To appeal to the younger audience, you need to stay true to your brand values, drive meaningful interactions through the content you create, show that you care about social causes, and share your content on platforms where Gen Z feels at home.