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.

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 nearly all these young individuals’ daily routines. 

On average, Gen Z spends around 8 hours a day online. According to e-Marketer, the top social media platforms used among Gen Z are Snapchat (42M users), TikTok (37.3M users), and Instagram (33.3M users). 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. 

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

#1 Short-Form Video

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 platforms and algorithms to prioritize this content. We are seeing a continued lean into tools such as Instagram Reels, YouTube Shorts, and others. 

Because of this, short-form videos tend to have 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.

#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.

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