How to Market to Gen Z

Santa frequently finds items that pop up in his – or her? – Amazon cart. It happens a lot around birthdays, too. Stuff that I – I mean, Santa – didn’t put in there. Like a fancy gaming chair, or a limited-edition Lego set.

And while I understand how these items were added to my cart – one-click shopping, of course – the bigger question is what made my tween-age son put them there.

At 11 years old, he’s part of Generation Z. And while he’s on the younger side of his generation (anyone born after 1997), he reacts much the same as his older counterparts when it comes to online marketing.

Marketers for years have talked about how different generations react to online content. Baby Boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, do online research before making a purchase. Gen Xers like me, born between 1965 and 1980, react positively to emails and digital ads that are tailored to their interests. And Millennials, born between 1981 and 2000, are strongly influenced by blogs and user-generated content on social media.

But what about Generation Z? Unlike their cynical Gen X parents, accused of being materialistic, or Millennials, who are more altruistic and idealistic, Gen Z is a little bit of both.

They’ve always known a world with internet and on-demand content. When they’re stumped with a problem, they can turn to YouTube to solve it. And unlike their parents, who grew up with Pong and Pac Man, their generation of video games has taught them to keep going. To push to the next level. That opportunities are limitless, just as the games are.

As a result, Gen Zers fully embrace digital marketing. They respond better to more images and fewer words. And unlike the generation before them, they’re not only sharing content – but they’re also creating their own.

Which is why I’m finding the SecretLab gaming chair and Lego limited-edition Star Wars set in my shopping cart. It’s because other Gen Zers – teenage and early twenty-something influencers who have gained millions of YouTube subscribers from their reviews – are selling the products to him.

Michelle's Son

The fancy gaming chair in question

All of that provides plenty of opportunities for marketers.

So here are just a few ways to market to Generation Z.

  • Use video. When Gen Zers have a question, they go to YouTube. When they’re bored, they turn to TikTok. And when they’re feeling creative, they make their own videos. The video doesn’t need to be perfect, either. Gen Z responds better to more realistic vs. staged content.
  • Turn to micro-influencers, those with anyone between 1,000 to 10,000 followers on social media. Not only do micro-influencers bring higher engagement than macro-influencers (those who have between 100,000 to 1 million followers), but they also are more likely to interact and respond – something that Generation Z wants and needs.
  • Show how your product will benefit them. Gen Zers have spent their entire lives surrounded by companies trying to sell them something. It doesn’t matter to them. They only want to know how your product will benefit them: How will it make them feel good? What experiences will it bring?

No matter what: Show them, don’t tell them. And do it in as few words as possible. Gen Zers are not going to read all of what you have to say. They’re busy moving on to other places – like the Amazon cart.