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Jessica Hulett
Content Manager, Brand @ Yotpo
June 22nd, 2022

What Brands Need to Know about Marketing to Gen Z

Connecting with Gen Z isn’t just good for sales it will also make your brand better

Table Of Contents

Move over Millennials: Gen Z is the group of consumers that everyone’s trying to capture right now. And with good reason — these shoppers born between 1997 and 2012 already have a combined buying power of 143 billion, and that’s only going to grow as more of them finish school and enter the workforce.

Gen Z is upending the marketing playbook. They browse differently, spend differently, and care about different things than the generations that came before them. In our recent AWIE Online event, Carmel Zein, Senior Marketing Manager at Yotpo, talked to three Gen Z experts about the challenges and opportunities of capturing the next generation of shoppers: Kim Zorn, Global Performance Director at Princess Polly, Alyssa Thomas, eCommerce Manager at Aje, and Kate Massey, Head of APAC at Searchspring. Here are some of their insights.

What makes Gen Z unique?

They’re diverse and educated

“They’re the most diverse and most educated generation there is,” says Kim. According to data from the Pew Research Center, only 52% of Gen Zers are non-Hispanic white – significantly smaller than the 61% of Millennials, 70% of Gen Xers, and 82% of Boomers. And, they are less likely to drop out of high school and more likely to be enrolled in college than previous generations.

They’re digital natives

Gen Z is the first generation to grow up with 24/7 access to the internet. But just because they’re tech-savvy and always connected, it doesn’t mean that they’re easier to connect with. They know what they like, and they know what they have to do to get content tailored to their interests.

“One of the things I find really interesting is because they are that savvy, they’re training algorithms to show them more content that they enjoy through liking and commenting and sharing on the content that appeals to them,” says Kate.

They care a lot

“Brand values” became a buzzy term when we were all talking about Millennials, but it’s even more important when talking about Gen Z. Yotpo’s State of Brand Loyalty 2022 survey showed that more than 90% of Gen Z shoppers are more inclined to be loyal to a brand whose values align with theirs.

“They’re really a generation that want to make a change,” says Alyssa. “And I think that’s quite evident, and they’re really determined to use their power to better the world we live in. What we’ve really established at Aje is that they really need more from us than just buying into our product. They want to know as a business, and what we are doing to make a change.”

Expert tips for marketing to Gen Z

Make your eCommerce strategy mobile-first

Gen Z is always online, and most of the time, it’s on a mobile device. Mobile-friendly may have once been enough for eCommerce brands, but to target younger consumers, being mobile-first is essential — and making sure that experience carries across all of your other channels.

“As an eComm Manager, my biggest focus is really ensuring that our mobile site is seamless,” says Alyssa. “And the Gen Z customer is known to be shopping from device to device and from platform to platform. Just make sure that the customer feels like they’re getting that same on-brand journey from Instagram to the website to TikTok.”

Another mobile tactic is really thinking about your overall SMS strategy, and making sure you aren’t just replicating communications that you’re also sending over email or via other channels. Use SMS as your main channel for communicating limited-time promotions, transactional messages, loyalty program updates, and even exclusive offers.

“There’s a lot of things that you can do wrong with SMS, but for us, SMS is one of the most powerful channels that we have in the business,” says Kim. “Our text club is like an exclusive club. They always get offers that you can’t find on the page. And I think what’s really important as well is personalization. We always include their name if we have it in the SMS. And we also use SMS-specific discount codes. So if we have a 25% discount offer, we use codes like SMSVIP25 or SMS25.”

Appeal to their FOMO

Gen Z shoppers don’t want to miss out on a deal or an experience, so marketing with urgency is an effective way to get their attention. An example of a brand that does this well is wearable blanket brand The Oodie.

“They really look at capturing holidays and trends with new product drops. And they don’t just do new product drops — they do limited edition product drops,” says Kate. “So they create that scarcity piece as well, and that FOMO, that fear of missing out if they don’t take action before it sells out.”

Rethink your influencer strategy

There was a time when getting a Kardashian to promote your product was a ticket to success, but that doesn’t work on Gen Z. They want to envision how products fit into their lives, so they want to see people they can relate to using them.

“It’s about being authentic and really connecting with relevant influencers that are in perfect alignment for the brand and that the audience can connect to,” says Kate.

Personalize the customer journey

Because Gen Z has been raised by algorithms, they expect customer experiences that are personalized to them. It’s important to ensure that you’re creating a unique experience end-to-end for every Gen Z customer if you want to turn them into loyal brand advocates.

“We work a lot with personalization,” says Kim. “We tailor content to certain platforms, use native ads to engage our customers and just overall make it as engaging as possible and as interesting for them as possible.”

Define your brand values, and back them up with action

Gen Z wants to know what your brand stands for, and the answer is going to have a huge impact on whether or not they’re interested in what you’re selling. But if you want them to buy, words aren’t enough — your brand needs to live those values, whether it’s by teaming up with a nonprofit on an initiative, donating a portion of sales, or planting a tree with every order. An example of a brand that does this well is sustainable clothing brand Boody.

“Their messaging is so consistently Boody,” says Kate. “It doesn’t matter where you’re seeing them or engaging with them. And it’s really hard not to fall in love with what they’re doing as a brand. And this is at every touchpoint — they’re communicating their brand values, their positive impact on the planet, all the way through to recently announcing a partnership with world-renowned environmental Jane Goodall. That’s not your traditional influencer.”

Gen Z makes brands better

Gen Z may be more demanding than the generations that came before them, but what they’re demanding — authenticity, making a difference, and a better customer experience — are things that all brands should strive for. And if your brand becomes a favorite of this generation, like Princess Polly, Aje, The Oodie, or Boody, then you’ll know you’re doing something right. Make that doing a lot of things right.

Got something to say about marketing to Gen Z or amazing women in eCommerce? Join the AWIE Slack Community and get the conversation started!

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