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Marketing to Gen Z

by Rebecca Kowalewicz, VP Digital

Generation Z, those born in the late 1990s and early 2000s, is a generation that challenges the way marketers and brands are thinking about the future of their marketing efforts. Marketing to Gen Z presents new problems for brands that aren’t adapting fast to the new generation and are still stuck trying to “figure out” millennials. But what are those problems they face? Why are marketing tactics in the years of yesterday failing to succeed in the days of tomorrow?

Let’s take a closer look at the challenges of marketing to Generation Z—and how to reach them.

Understanding Generational Marketing: We need to take a step back before we take a step forward. Generational marketing is an age-old concept. You target a specific generation of people grouped by values, attitudes, and preferences from specific eras in time. The point is to avoid sending a mass marketing message to all ages because one size certainly does not fit all—and that’s especially true of Gen Z.

The strategy you employ when marketing to babyboomers won’t have the same traction as marketing to millennials. By grouping consumers by generation, you can tailor your tactics for optimal reception.

But what is it that makes Generation Z a different kind of animal?

Playing the Game: Here’s the ugly truth—Gen Z wants no part of your schemes, strategies, or pushy sales. They see right through it all. Gone are the days of selling snake oil and snappy marketing sales. If you want to break through the Gen Z barrier, you have to play their game—and they make the rules. They are the players, the referees, the big league game you have no seat to. So how do you get through?

Marketing to Generation Z is all about transparency, relatability, experience, and advocacy. Gen Z wants diversity. Gen Z wants to be part of change. Gen Z follows brands that do social good and advocate. By 2020, Gen Z will account for 40 percent of all consumers.

But the challenge reaches further than capturing Gen Z’s spending habits. They influence their parents’ spending, meaning that generational marketing campaign you worked so hard on targeting parents of Gen Z-ers may be even less effective.

So, what can your brand do?

Before making a purchase, most Gen Z-ers reference user-generated content for reviews. They might watch a YouTube review of a new face wash or follow a candid influencer on social media who tells it like it is. This means you can say goodbye to those paid actors in commercials or the models you hire to sell your product. Gen Z wants reality. They want to relate to the product and the person talking about it.

This is actually a great thing for small businesses trying to catch up to Generation Z. High-production videos, commercials, and ads aren’t converting the Gen Z audience. It’s the low-production, stripped-down, real and raw approach that wins them over. Tactics like live streaming, sharing behind-the-scenes experiences of your brand, and promoting user-generated content will save your brand marketing dollars and also earn you more with the new generation.

As originally published on Clearbridge Branding Agency is a digital marketing agency located in Glassboro. Visit

Digital Digest