9 Things You Should be Doing When Marketing to Gen Z

Are you marketing to Gen Z? They have disposable income and they don’t appreciate a hard sell, so what should you be doing to reach them?

Marketing to Gen Z



9 Things Gen Z Wants to See in Your Marketing

Gen Z is emerging as one of the most lucrative demographics for businesses today. These young people have around $360 billion in disposable income and interact with social marketing every day.  


However, marketing to Gen Z can be tricky. Much like millennials, Gen Z won’t appreciate “hard selling” techniques and are far more likely to care about the brand image that you can create. 


Gen Z will dig deep into your business background before making a purchase, too. Young buyers want to purchase from brands that reflect their values and will find out if you’re trumping up claims about your sustainability or social impact. 


Instead of leading with sales pitches, appeal to Gen Zers by running marketing campaigns that feel sincere. They know you’re trying to sell to them, but still want to see how your business positively contributes to society at large. For this reason, you should foreground authenticity in your marketing materials and be honest about your goals and current shortcomings. 

Emotional Intelligence

Gen Z are savvy consumers and won’t be fooled by inauthentic branded marketing campaigns. They’ll spot underhand techniques like greenwashing or tokenism and will turn away from your brand if they do not trust you. As a marketer, you need to ensure that the marketing content your produce feels self-aware and sincere if you want to connect with younger generations. 


You can create more authentic marketing campaigns by looking inward and developing your emotional intelligence, which can serve you well when building and maintaining professional relationships. Using emotional intelligence effectively in the workplace can look like: 


  • Communicating and working with others from an empathetic standpoint;
  • Practicing effective conflict resolution;
  • Considering the emotional impact of your, and your company’s, choices.


Improving your emotional intelligence is also key to marketing to Gen Z, as introspection and self-awareness are vital if you want to connect with these ethically-driven younger consumers. Young consumers want to interact with brands that are self-aware and authentically commit to causes like climate change and social progress. 


Showing that you are aware of larger social trends can help you change your business image, too. This is particularly important if you work for a brand with changing consumer demographics and need to appeal to younger folks who care about your corporate social responsibility initiatives. 


Gen Z is more climate-aware than any other generation. Most Gen Zers say that climate change is the biggest issue in the world today, and 70% say that sustainability is an influential factor when purchasing items like fashion goods. Young consumers know that businesses have a huge role to play in preventing climate catastrophe and may be more likely to support brands that commit to sustainability. 


You can support calls for greater sustainability by utilizing eco-friendly marketing techniques. Instead of running print ads and paper fliers, opt for digital campaigns and social content. If you do need to produce physical promotional items, opt for sustainable alternatives made of bamboo or biodegradable materials. 


Amplify your impact by supporting initiatives to improve your local ecosystem and combat climate change. Even small changes, like ordering your paper from local suppliers, can cut down your carbon use and minimize your waste. Over time, these authentic commitments to sustainability will attract younger consumers and help you align with climate-conscious buyers. 


Greenwashing is an underhand marketing technique designed to make your business look more “green” than it really is. Greenwashing creates a false impression of your business’s environmental impact and can land you in hot water with young consumers who are constantly on the lookout for trumped-up claims and “green sheens”. 


Avoid greenwashing by sticking to the facts. Rather than ambiguously referring to your “improved sustainability” track key metrics like carbon use, waste produced, and ecological protection. Be honest about your shortcomings and set publicly available goals like “reduce carbon output to ‘X’ per product”. 


If you back ecological protection projects, shoot informative films about your business’s role in restoring habitats or preserving wildlife. Be clear about the scale of your involvement and the challenges that you face. Gen Z will accept that you are a work in progress but will be put off by half-truths and deceptive marketing ploys. 

ESG Goals

Gen Z cares deeply about sustainability and climate change. However, it’s not the only cause that grabs their attention today. As a progressive business, you have to embrace an environmental, social, and governance (ESG) framework if you want to appeal to younger audiences. 


Measure your social impact by undertaking a social impact assessment (SIA). Ideally, an SIA will be completed by an independent reviewer who understands the standards set by the International Institute for Sustainable Development. An SIA will evaluate your business’s impact on external and internal stakeholders and will help you identify success stories as well as shortcomings. 


Use the SIA findings to direct your ESG initiatives. For example, if an SIA finds that your business undermines the local communities economic development, you might engage in enhancement measures like local employment drives that bring underrepresented groups into your business. 


Taking your ESG initiatives seriously can be a real boon for your brand. You’ll be able to generate plenty of progressive, authentic marketing content thanks to your investment, and will attract the attention of young consumers who want to buy from a business that matches their values. 

Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing is a great way to break into the Gen Z market. Influencer marketing has a great ROI and is an easy way to reach niche audiences that wouldn’t otherwise engage with your branded content. 


Influencer marketing can be scaled to meet your budget, too. You don’t need to partner with big-name influencers and may benefit from micro-influencers who have followings between 1,000 and 100,000. 


You can also use influencer marketing as a way to test new campaigns and gather data about your audience. Engagement is usually higher with influencer-promoted content, meaning you can see which elements of your campaigns resonate with Gen Zers the most. 


Just be sure to partner with an influencer who authentically aligns with your values. Influencers are brand ambassadors for your business and can undermine your image. Do your research and dig through past posts before partnering with a social media influencer. 

Supply Chains

Gen Z are diligent consumers who will dig behind marketing campaigns in an attempt to learn more about your businesses before they buy. This means that you have to re-assess your current supply chains to ensure that your suppliers meet your ESG standards. 


Start by advocating for supply chain sustainability programs in your firm. As a marketer, you may not have sway over supply chain management unless you can show that unethical suppliers are undermining your profits. 


Conduct Gen Z-specific market research to better understand consumer preferences and values. This will give you credibility when you ask to change to more ethical contractors, suppliers, or distributors. Highlight these changes in marketing content that foregrounds your honesty and transparency. This will help bolster your business’s image and may help you build profitable brand collaboration with similar ethically-minded companies. 

Brand Collaborations

Brand collaborations have been a part of the marketing playbook for decades. Major brands like Mercedes, Nike, Apple, and Red Bull show that crossing over and connecting with similarly-positioned brands is a great way to boost your profile and raise your brand awareness. 


In today’s digital age, brand collaborations are getting increasingly creative. Recent collaborations like Cheetos and Forever21 may sound bizarre, but they draw serious interest from younger audiences. 


You may not have the budget to undertake a big co-branding partnership, but you can learn from the example of big businesses like BMW and Louis Vuitton. Find similarly positioned businesses and reach out with a creative, story-driven partnership idea. Ideally, this partnership will not involve a direct competitor but will be with a business that shares your consumer base and is open to the idea of pooling resources.


Ultimately, brand collaborations are designed to increase engagement and raise your brand awareness. This is particularly useful if you traditionally market to older audiences and are trying to break into the Gen Z demographic for the first time. 


Every Gen Z consumer is different. However, many Gen Z customers actively enjoy engaging with brands and want to align themselves with a business that understands the needs and desires of its consumer base. 


As a marketer, you can use Gen Z’s propensity for engagement to your advantage. Start small and set aside an hour each day to respond to the comments, queries, and shares you receive online. Even small gestures like a “thanks” after a positive review can go a long way. 


Drive higher engagement by hosting competitions and giveaways. As native users of the web, Gen Z is used to liking, commenting, and subscribing to their favorite social profiles. As a marketer, you can mimic influencer posts and give competition winners a chance to earn something of real value. 


If you’re failing to engage your audience, ensure that your posts actually add value to your followers’ lives. When online, Gen Z doesn’t want to view “hard sells” and may even resent forced advertisements. Instead, shoot, produce, and post content that is interesting for your viewers. For example, if you’re a clothing brand, consider shooting a “behind the scenes” series complete with interviews and technique tips for folk who are interested in design themselves. 

At some point, you will probably land some negative comments and reviews. If you want to attract the attention of Gen Z, you have to respond to negative feedback with grace and decorum. Use negative reviews to repair your relationships with customers and position yourself as a people-friendly business. Offer quick fixes wherever possible and follow up with promotional products. This will protect your brand image and help young consumers feel heard. 


Connecting with Gen Z consumers can be tricky. However, you can maximize your chances of success by customizing your content and personalizing your advertising materials to provide tailored experiences for your younger consumers. 


Traditionally, personalizing marketing content is time-consuming. However, automation makes customization easier than ever before. You don’t have to manually type out personalized emails to each consumer and can use data to tweak your advertisements. 


The key to personalization is recognizing that Gen Z consumers are not monolithic. There are plenty of sub-trends within Gen Z that will change the way you approach each customer. Account for these differences by creating multiple consumer personas for a younger audience. This will help you plan personalized content and identify trends among younger consumers. 


Gen Z’s purchasing power is growing. As a marketer, you can maximize your appeal amongst a younger audience by promoting sustainability and community engagement within your business. This will help you build an authentic brand image that young consumers trust. Maximize your marketing ROI by partnering with influencers who share your company values and consider brand partnerships with similarly positioned businesses. This will help you craft a sincere identity and drive higher engagement amongst Gen-Z on your social platforms.