Marketing to Gen Z: Authenticity Over Perfection

Born into the digital era, Gen Z is the first generation to be fully immersed in a world of smartphones, social media, and constant internet access. Because of this, they have higher expectations from brands when it comes to digital advertising. This cohort makes up 27% of the U.S. population, and will soon become the largest group of consumers with significant buying power (Insider Intelligence). 

Brands marketing to Gen Z should prioritize meeting their media preferences, directly communicating to them without abandoning key channels for existing customers. In this article, we will discuss the values of Gen Z and how to best align your marketing strategy with those values. 

Authenticity Matters, Not Perfection

In a crowded media landscape, brands often compete for consumer attention with flashy creatives and mass media placements. With a “best foot forward” mentality, brands can get caught up in trying to show consumers the perfected image of their offerings. However, Gen Z consumers often ignore this type of content because it’s not relatable or different. They care heavily about a genuine showcasing of a brand’s values and offerings. They want to understand why the product matters, not just why they should buy it.

How can you achieve this?

Be Realistic

When using paid, over-glamoured models, Gen Z does not feel a connection with the brand. Gen Z wants to see a representation of themselves in the people showcased in advertisements, choosing brands that feel personable. Make sure your creative feels authentic to get the best attraction from the Gen Z audience. This is especially important considering this generation is the most ethnically diverse in the U.S., and they are passionate about diversity, equity, and inclusion. 

Make A Stand

Gen Z consumers hold companies to a high standard for corporate social responsibility. These socially responsible individuals go out of their way to support companies that stand for social issues they value. Use marketing to showcase how your brand makes a positive impact on society. Position your brand so that when Gen Z consumers purchase they not only get a useful product but also support the causes or social views they find most meaningful. 

Show Transparency

Gen Z wants to feel involved with its chosen brands and understand how they operate. Be honest with consumers about your practices, and tell a story about why you do what you do. This will inform your audience about your ethical standards and build trust. A lack of transparency can damage a brand’s reputation. In fact, 22% of Gen Zs reported that a lack of transparency reduces their opinion of brands and products, which is more than any other generation. 

Being genuine with Gen Z audiences should be a primary concern when it comes to delivering a marketing message. This authentic approach can be executed by being realistic with your audience, making a stand for a social cause, and showing transparency in brand practices.

How to Reach Gen Z on Social Media

If you want to effectively reach Gen Z consumers, social media is the place to be. Social platforms are a key part of their daily routines. 

On average, Gen Z spends about 8 hours a day online. And 90% of Gen Z are spending a minimum of one hour per day on social media – primarily on YouTube, TikTok and Instagram. These platforms are all dominated by user-generated short-form videos, which speaks to the need for brands to focus on creativity and authenticity in their content.

And they’re not just looking for entertainment on social media anymore. 50% of Gen Z make social commerce purchases (along with 51% of Millennials). Social media is a place to authentically reach Gen Z where they are spending time, but it’s also a tool to drive sales conversions.

Here are three tactics to win over Gen-Z consumers on social media:

#1 Short-Form Video

Gen Z spends less time watching TV than any other generation. They’re consuming digital video content on social media platforms instead. In particular, short-form videos have taken off in popularity over the past few years, especially among the Gen Z audiences. 

These 6-30 second videos are great for quick recognition. They require less attention span and quickly convey a message. One can argue that TikTok is the reason for the explosion of short-form video, as the platform continues to rise to the top of popularity rankings. As such, social media apps are redesigning their algorithms to prioritize this content. 

Short-form videos also tend to gain more Gen Z audience engagement, with the average engagement rate at 50%. This level is considerably higher than other generations. With storytelling potential, attention-grabbing power, and virality, short-form video is a must-have tool to drive full-funnel results in nearly all Gen Z marketing campaigns. 

#2 Influencer Marketing

What do Gen Zs want from brands? Honest, relatable, and compelling content. 

Where do Gen Zs spend their time? On social media. 

Influencers offer the best of both worlds – authentic content across various social media platforms. This makes influencer marketing a no-brainer tactic to reach Gen-Z consumers. 

Successful creators have spent time building trust and confidence with consumers, which brings meaning to their name as they hold a high “influence.” According to a GWI Report, “Gen Z puts more stock in the opinions and recommendations of influencers than past generations, and that’s heavily shaping how they approach media in general.” Micro-influencers, with smaller but more dedicated followers, are a great way to gain trust and narrow in on niche Gen-Z segments that best match your brand.

Read more of our best influencer marketing tips here.

#3 High Impact, Interactive Content

Interactive content is growing in popularity among younger audiences, which can boost awareness and engagement with your brand. Users want to engage with content, whether that’s a swipe, tap, click, vote, or like. 

Instagram is known to have highly interactive content such as polls, carousels, quizzes, questions, prompts, and more. TikTok also recently introduced interactive add-ons that allow paid media content to further engage audiences with ad posts. Immersive content such as 3D, AR/VR, and the development of the metaverse introduce innovative ways to reach audiences in a “phygital” way. Interactive content allows your brand to be present with Gen Z as they shift deeper into digital connections and worlds. 

How Coegi Can Help

As a digital marketing agency, Coegi is well equipped to assist you in marketing needs to reach your Gen Z consumers. We ensure each campaign is carefully researched based on data-driven tools to strategically activate across TikTok, Instagram, YouTube, and many other platforms. Reach out if you are looking for a partner to effectively execute and optimize your campaigns to grow your brand.

What ‘The Coegi Way’ Means to Me

What is ‘The Coegi Way’?

At Coegi, the workplace culture is defined by a set of shared values, also known as ‘The Coegi Way’. ‘The Coegi Way’ emphasizes four core principles that are standard to the everyday practice of attitude, approach, service and culture.

The attitude at Coegi is “hard work beats talent when talent does not work hard.” This means that employees have enthusiastic determination, engage in responsible communication, hold a desire to be the best, and take pride in their workmanship.

The approach at Coegi is “the difference between something good and something great is attention to detail.” Employees drive this approach by having a strong attention to detail, implementing data into projects, delivering beyond client’s expectations, and celebrating achievements.

The service at Coegi is “nobody raves about average.” At Coegi, employees strive to go above and beyond by being transparent with clients, providing quality insights to campaign performance, and optimizing results based on performance, while working collaboratively towards client goals.

The culture at Coegi is “excellence is not a skill, it’s an attitude.” Employees at Coegi carry out this expectation by respecting peers, enjoying coming to work, giving back, and showing ambition

What it means to me

‘The Coegi Way’ is more than just a set of principles in my work life. It aligns with my values and reminds me of my motivations and goals on a daily basis. I try to apply each of the core values to my work each day by turning associations of those values into specific work practices.

For the value of attitude, I always go into my work with a positive, learning mentality. To begin my day, I read industry news and take notes on trends I believe to be important or timely. I use these notes when doing additional research, or content writing. I uphold this enthusiastic attitude knowing that I am putting my best effort forward in my task load.

Because I am an analytical thinker, I can easily relate to the approach value because it emphasizes the importance of attention to detail. I am able to naturally identify key details in campaign reports and research articles. When working in programmatic, I would conduct daily reports on pacing to make sure that campaigns were spending appropriately and in a timely manner. Additionally, I would create insights for reports by portraying a story with the metrics I found. I did this by explaining the importance of the metrics and what could be changed in campaign strategy to better optimize budgets. The purpose of close attention to detail is to provide clients with the best possible outcomes towards their business objectives.

The value of service focuses on the quality of work produced. To ensure I am producing quality work, I collaborate with team members in my department to review and revise the content I produce. As a former programmatic specialist, I would consistently monitor and adjust campaigns based on current results. In reporting, I would give transparency to key metrics and their effect on the client’s business objective. Being a strong communicator is something that I have always strived for, to ensure clear feedback and collaboration in my work. ‘The Coegi Way’ has helped establish constant communication as an everyday practice in my work.

The Coegi culture value reminds me to consciously engage with team members daily. Whether I’m working online or in-person, I make an effort to communicate with my coworkers. I try to assist them where I can, or just chat with them about personal matters. I’ve always felt a strong connection with my colleagues, because I know employees at Coegi share the same values and want to help each other succeed. Part of engaging in this culture is giving back to one another, which I execute by reviewing the work of others, and creating content to share among employees. This is a key component to Coegi’s success as a collaborative and high growth workplace.

The Coegi Way is more than just a set of principles in my work life. It aligns with my values and reminds me of my motivations and goals on a daily basis.

How it influences my work and outlook at Coegi

My outlook on work has changed since starting at Coegi because of the values they have introduced into my work life. Being surrounded by people who share similar core beliefs and values in my workplace motivates me to be the best version of myself and continue to grow and learn within the industry. Not only do I feel confident in my work strategy and results, but I have a remarkable satisfaction for it as well. I go into work everyday feeling positive about what I am accomplishing and the people around me. I look forward to seeing my future growth at Coegi and in my professional life by carrying out the values of attitude, approach, service and culture.

Coegi Partners

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