Marketing to Gen Z: Authenticity Over Perfection

/ Thoughtspace - General, Strategy

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 when it comes to digital marketing and advertising interactions. 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.

To learn more about the recommended tactics tailored for Gen Z, read Coegi’s Three Tactics to Effectively Reach Gen Z Consumers article. 

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