Entering a new era, everything and everyone is trying to keep up with the change. It’s always good to keep up with current trends or consumer behaviour, especially in the branding and marketing world. One particular demographic has been the focus of branding and marketing for some time now; Generation Z, better known as Gen Z. Gen Z consists of people born between the late 1990s and early 2010s. As of 2023, statistics show that they take up about 26% of the world’s population and about 99% of them either own a smartphone or have access to one.
They’re the ones who grew up in this era of technology development and they understand it the most. On top of that, Gen Z’s are known to enjoy reviewing products or expressing their honest opinions online. Thus, it’s quite crucial to understand their consumer behaviour and preferences to tailor branding or marketing strategies accordingly if they make up most of your target audience demographic, which surely they do for most industries.
Significance of Targeting Gen Z as Consumers
Why should brands focus on Gen Z specifically? As mentioned earlier, Gen Z grew up in the era of developing technology. Thanks to that, they are very clearly tech-savvy and generally more comfortable around technology compared to Millennials, Gen X or Baby Boomers. Moreover, they have a desire for authenticity and social change. They basically know their way around technology and they highly value transparency & meaningful interactions more than others. This inadvertently makes them essential for a business to prosper and succeed in the long run. Gen Zs have very decent spending power and the potential for increased brand loyalty. Therefore, they’ve become a valuable consumer segment. Let’s get into some of the branding strategies you can apply when targeting Gen Z consumers:
Branding Strategies for Gen Z
1. Authenticity & Transparency
Aside from the obvious preference for visual appeal, Gen Zs really appreciate authenticity and transparency from a brand. Since they’re quite tech-savvy, they have become accustomed to detecting when a brand is deceptive or untrue to their values or promise. Therefore, to connect with Gen Z as the targeted audience, a brand must embrace genuineness and be as transparent as possible with the way they market itself in terms of both actions and communications. One of the ways can be done is by possibly showcasing true testimonials or reviews. Sharing genuine consumer experiences can quickly build brand trust and credibility.
2. Purpose-Driven Branding
A purpose-driven brand is basically one that showcases and executes its brand purpose or mission. Not just any purpose, though. It has to be a meaningful and beneficial purpose that shows your brand exists to help consumers or will leave a positive impact on lives. Having a purpose that aligns with Gen Z’s causes can potentially win their long-term loyalty. Thus, by incorporating purpose-driven branding strategies into how a brand markets itself, it can develop a sense of community with shared values with this generation.
3. Mobile-First Approach
Let’s face it, websites can be helpful for general info but social media and other mobile apps have taken over as the preferred platform for finding info, purchasing items and more. An app that’s meant to be a video content creation platform called TikTok has become the preferred search engine instead of Google. Google is still very much relevant, however, Gen Zs have found it more helpful for their search needs on apps like TikTok or Instagram instead. This may be due to how visually-oriented Gen Zs are.
To paint a picture: when Gen Z wants to find a recipe for what they want to cook, they don’t Google it. Instead, they go to TikTok, search on their search engine and watch a demonstration of the whole recipe in just a few seconds. That being said, brands can try to prioritize publishing content on certain platforms tailored to each platform’s style and norms.
4. Personalization and Customization
Generation Z loves it when a brand makes individually unique consumer experiences possible. On one hand, personalization is about using user based insights to create or build personalized experiences for eash user. On the other hand, customization allows a sense of ownership and control over the consumer experience, ultimately making the experience unique to each user since they would be involved in shaping that experience.
5. Diversity and Inclusivity
As mentioned earlier, a big part of Gen Zs value meaningful causes, especially since they are a more racially and ethnically diverse generation. Movements that support causes such as anti-racism, body positivity or neutrality, and more tend to attract them. In general, they favour brands who push beyond the societal norms or standards in a positive way. Brands can incorporate this by using diverse voices, visuals, avoiding negative stereotypes and promoting inclusivity. But beware, as mentioned before, Gen Zs can sense insincerity. Therefore, it’s important that a brand stays true to its own values.
Engaging Gen Z Through Content
Like we mentioned, Gen Zs can be quite visually oriented. Therefore, let’s look into some types of content that could possibly attract them:
1. Short-Form and Visually Appealing: Apps like TikTok, Instagram & YouTube have become Gen Z’s playground and those are the perfect platforms for short-form and visually appealing content. Visual appeal combined with concise content results in attracting viewers and increased engagement. Each of those platforms have short-form videos such as TikTok videos, Instagram Reels or YouTube Shorts.
2. Video Content and Live Streaming: Video content is one of the best ways to attract attention and deliver a message. On top of that, live streaming allows consumers to interact and engage in real-time. If your video content or livestream is entertaining, informative or both, it can attract the right target audience.
Source: Kerepek Salleh Food, The Raw.™ Skin, Watie Store & Mis Claire on TikTok
3. Memes, Humour and Relatability: Aside from growing up surrounded by technology, Gen Zs also grew up in the era of memes, relatable jokes as well as the iconic but obsolete app, Vine. Vine used to be the short-form video platform where people were humorous and relatable. To this day, Gen Zs appreciate good, humorous, relatable content. Incorporating these aspects in your content will surely evoke an emotional connection and encourage sharing the content among their peers.
Source: Netflix on Instagram
4. Collaborations with Gen Z Influencers: Influencers, as their title suggests, can be a strong tool to influence an audience that shares the same interests. Collaborating with influencers of the same generation can create a sort of connection as well as provide a sense of trust with the brand. Plus, this is a tried-and-true strategy. It’s always a good strategy to expand a brand’s reach.
Source: Johanis Sani on Instagram
Brands That Successfully Pulled Gen Z Consumers
Nike: For years, Nike has been a staple in both sportswear and streetwear. Their advertising campaigns show authenticity and advocate for social justice. Aside from being a globally known brand, their campaigns effectively attract Gen Zs and they support the right causes. Plus, as mentioned, Nike was and still is a staple in sportswear and streetwear. Both are very popular among Gen Zs.
Supreme: Ever heard of the phrase, “want what you can’t have”? Well, it’s a great marketing strategy that brands like Supreme use to create a sense of rarity or in-crowd community. Supreme is a casual and streetwear brand that is considered quite exclusive and limited-edition. This exclusivity gives them the benefit of looking more unique and that pulls in the attention of Gen Z consumers.
Remember that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to branding for any targeted audience. Thus, before creating any strategy, a brand should determine a brand guideline and target audience. What’s important is that a brand shows their authenticity, promise, purpose and all the aspects mentioned to truly build a connection with Gen Z consumers. When values align, combined with some smart social media strategies, Gen Z’s will surely be attracted to the brand. However, if you’re still unsure, you can definitely give us a call to find out what solutions are available for you!