Millennials, Gen Z—these labels are so often thrown around that they have become generalizations and go-to excuses of why marketing is trickier nowadays.
They are used to signify a market deemed unreadable, understandable; a tough audience with barriers traditional advertising couldn’t break.
But what exactly are Millennials? What is Gen Z? Is marketing today really as futile as many deem it to be?
First off, there some things to address right off the bat. If you are a young marketer working today, chances are you are a millennial.
Millennials are generally considered as those currently in the ages of 23-38, having been born from 1981-1996. (Thus, the yuppies working today.)
The key separator between millennials and those in Gen Z—the “post-millennials” born 1997 to present—is that the latter are considered true digital natives as their upbringing was shaped with the internet being an integral part of their daily life.
This is integration with the internet and technology is a defining point in marketing to Gen Z. They are a generation where traditional marketing holds little to no effect.
So what must a brand do to resonate with Gen Z? Here are some things to remember.
There used to be a time when people showed off logos of crocodiles and horses on their shirts. The mere notion of product quality and prestige were enough to elevate a brand.
These days, brands must reach a “cult” status to build brand loyalty. This is a mix of a brand having a good story at its center, being an avenue for individual expression, cultivating interaction and co-creation, and building brand trust.
Brands today must strive to move past the “one size fits all” approach.
Gen Zers know that options are always readily available. If a product or brand doesn’t resonate with a person, he or she can easily switch.
This doesn’t mean though that your brand has to cater to every possible market. As Seth Godin put it, find your tribe then build a relationship with them. Make them care about your brand.
Growing up with smartphones in their pocket and with social media part of their daily lives, Gen Z is well-aware of their place in the world.
They are socially-aware to the issues, they value diversity, and they know that we don’t live in a utopia; Gen Z is looking for values.
Thus, brands must move away from all lofty ideas, hard-sells, and big promises. Banking on product features and price may not be the best route anymore.
Try to shape your story first. Let customers know of your greater purpose and be transparent as a brand. Don’t do it for the sake of marketing alone though, Gen Zers are good at sniffing out inauthenticity.
To amplify your story, look to influencers your market trusts. Good influencers are real people rather than celebrities. They are people followers look up to and listen to.
Find influencers that are aligned with your brand, and keep a long-term relationship with them. (One-offs just make partnerships look shallow and inauthentic.)
Again, a defining characteristic of Gen Zers is that they do not know a world without social media and the internet. They are a diverse bunch too.
To connect with them, you have to be where they are. Twitch, YouTube, Twitter, and other social platforms are a good start.
From there, give them experiences that they would want to share. Optimize your campaigns by micro-segmentation and sophisticated communication.
Market your business in a way that can be customized to your audience’s own style.
It helps to be aware of trends and to update your social media strategy continually. This way, you may always get the attention of your market and maintain a presence in their day-to-day.
Gen Z can be a tricky bunch, but it doesn’t mean they’re impenetrable.
Remember, at the end of the day, it’s about being as authentic as possible as a brand. Engage with your “tribe,” be aware and transparent, and always provide experiences and not just broad advertisements.
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