Gen Z's: Our Newest Target Market

It’s 2019. We made it! And so did our Gen Z’s, a generation of buyers who are changing the way we market to consumers. Values have grown, changed, or completely revolutionized since we’ve learned how to market to the generation just before -  Millennials. Let’s dive into a few key strategies and points to remember when marketing to our newest – and soon to be the largest group of consumers – Generation Z.

What We Need To Know

Before we get started, let’s talk about the top defining characteristics of Generation Z as a consumer audience. Gen Z’s are:

  • Fiscally Responsible: Individuals within this generation have watched Millennials as well as Generation Y’s drudge through several financial crises, namely the 2008 housing market crisis, and have even learned the hard way about the consequences of frivolity in finances. Gen Z’s take genuine time to review products, compare prices, and ask their “trusted sources,” aka friends or social Influencers, about a purchase in question before actually making a purchase.

  • Independent: Ita Group describes Gen Z’s as people that view the world “with a healthy dose of skepticism.” Growing up in the technology age, information is everywhere. People can discover the reputation of a business or individual within seconds, including themselves. In changing user presentation, Gen Z’s — and some Millennials — operate as a “brand” so to speak, establishing an “independent” identity, like a local business.  They interact with new business and establish online relationships with a near-sense of reluctance, but result in boundless loyalty when they think they’ve found the “right one.”

  • Competitive: Unlike Millennials, Gen Z’s grew up with the mindset that in this world, there are no such things as “participatory awards.” For them, it’s nearly every person for themselves, and they take this to heart. In the workplace, they seek advancement and greater self-fulfillment, compared to Millennials who love to work and thrive in collaborative efforts.

  • Entrepreneurial: More often than not, Gen Z-ers are operating a “side hustle” alongside their primary occupation that generates extra income, usually through a passion or personal interest. In this generation, you do all you have to do to make the most buck.

Sharing your story not only displays transparency within the company, it opens up a channel of conversation, where the consumer resonates with your brand on a personal level.

Sharing your story not only displays transparency within the company, it opens up a channel of conversation, where the consumer resonates with your brand on a personal level.

Gen Z’s value….

  • Human Equality : Generation Z’s are working in tandem with Millennials to produce more inclusive environments, both at home and in the real world. This includes schools, work environments, and brands they support and trust. If any of these spaces so much as peep about a sign of exclusion? Rest assured they’re calling out the entity to incite changes to be made as soon as possible.

  • Individuality: As briefly touched on earlier, Gen Z’s like to operate with a mode of independence. With this comes individuality. Gen Z’s love to invest in products or services that are unique and fitting to them and their personality, interests, and related values. If they can’t find it, don’t be surprised if they find ways to simply create it themselves. If there ever was a generation to value complete customization or personalization of goods, it’s this one.

  • Authenticity & Transparency: With all that’s been said, it should be quite clear that Gen Z’s, above many things, value authenticity and transparency in many facets of their lives. This includes how they operate in the workplace, what brands they choose to align with, and even how they interact with one another both on and offline. Primarily, they are concerned with how their own actions impact the world around them; do they invest in the holistic yoga pants brand? Is the project they’re working on for their job actually going to make a difference within the organization? It’s admirable, to say the least, and challenging for some brands to address, but we’ll get to that later.

  1. So, how to compare the two, Gen Z’s to Millennials?

    Like two siblings who are close in age, Gen Z’s and Millennials are compared to one another pretty often.  While the two generations are similar, there are a few significant differences worth mentioning. Both may operate pretty similarly within the digital, social and mobile realms, but Gen Z’s are often more concerned with online privacy than Millennials. And understandably so, since the average Gen Z-er spends about nine hours a day on social media, the hub of most of their internet use. Social media accounts often act as an extension of the Gen Zer, and for them, their privacy and protection of that extension comes from most high - the individuality. You see, Millennials may have been “born” into the Internet, but the Gen Z’s truly mastered the internet. Gen Z’s have taken the Millennials finesse in finding new technologies to simplify their lives and amplified it 150%, even literally 3D printing things they may need but can’t access in other ways. It’s incredible. What’s even more incredible, or perhaps more fascinating, is that Gen Z’s are more interested in shopping in a brick and mortar, not on big e-commerce engines like Amazon or Etsy. Gen Z’s like to pick up a product, analyze and understand the quality in person before making purchases.

    What does this mean for sales strategy?

    As marketers, it’s important to do the following:

    • Get their attention.

    • Gen Z’s live by two acronyms: Y.O.L.O. (You Only Live Once) and F.O.M.O. (Fear Of Missing Out.) They have an average attention span of seven seconds, and can operate efficiently with five different screens. This means your window to grab their attention is pretty slim. Get innovative with how you advertise, and create something that’s quick, eye-catching, and meaningful to the message you intend to portray.

    • Work with Influencers (if you can.)

    • Influencers, specifically social media Influencers, are some of the most powerful forces in purchase motivation amongst Gen Z’s. Some will believe a celebrity like Kylie Jenner over a trusted local dermatologist when it comes to recommendations on skincare products. Ok, perhaps that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but the brevity of impact of Influencers on the market is pretty hefty. Perform a bit of market research and see if there are any notable Influencers within your field. Though there is a cost associated in “partnering” with an Influencer whether it be products or financial compensation, the payoff will reveal itself pretty quickly.

    • Be where they are.

    • A bit of Sutton’s Law here, but we mean it when we say “ go where the money is. “ Meet the Gen Zers where they already are, and where truly, you should already be as well. This means across social media networks, at least the channels that fit you. It’s also in the mouths of others, through testimonials and word of mouth stories praising your brand.

    • Be Transparent.

    • As often as possible, be transparent about your business, its services or products, how you operate, your company culture, the works. Where do your ingredients come for your hair care product? The people who package your electric toothbrush,  are they paid fair wages? Are there any giving back programs you operate, or a particular nonprofit you work with? These are the kinds of questions you can expect from a Gen Z consumer, as their greatest concern is not in the product itself, but how it came from point A to point B and its impact along the way. Allow your marketing department – even if that’s surprise, you! – to take these questions, and find creative ways to answer them.

    • Tell Your Story.

    • This ties in directly with transparency. Gen Z’s like a mention of a business’ journey to their current success, a “started from the bottom, now we here” type situation, in their own colloquialism.. Sharing your story not only displays transparency within the company, it opens up a channel of conversation in a space of some sort of vulnerability, where the consumer finds tidbits about your company and its culture that they resonate with on a personal level. Those tidbits are what solidify brand loyalty within the consumer.

    • Provide an experience with your product or service.

    • Though seemingly implausible, we think it’s quite possible to combine everything we’ve mentioned today and apply to a single strategy: provide an experience. It’s not just Gen Z’s who  appreciate this, either. Providing an experience to a user that’s custom-tailored like the outline of an autobiography, leaves an impact on the buyer’s process without question. Include videos of how the product was made, or where it came from/was sourced. Provide client testimonials advocating for your brand, or even from an Influencer if you can. Create an environment so interactive, so dedicated to the user that they walk away from their purchase feeling like they own the company, not you. It seems extreme, but necessary.  These newer generations are too familiar with dated advertising methods, the time for innovation is now.

  2. Looking Forward

    We know that marketing strategies, technology, etc., are all ever changing at hyper speed. As soon as we’ve mastered one set of tools, new ones have already arrived. Thanks to the power of research and audience listening, one surely can stay ahead of, or at least on top of, the game to the best of their ability. At GSATi, that’s just the kind of thing we live for in our work. We’re constantly learning how to interact with our clients and their consumers, providing more streamlined shopping experiences and insights that help render our clients as game changers. Click here if you’re looking to join the club.


Danielle Longueville