Fresh from delivering a Gen Z marketing masterclass at the University of Queensland, Hunt & Hawk Campaign Manager, Samara Nilsson, reveals her expert insights for connecting with this discerning audience.
It radiates coolness and represents the swiftest-growing market segment, having recently overtaken Baby Boomers…
Meet Gen Z, colloquially known as Zoomers.
Simply put, today’s marketer cannot disregard the influence of targeting a Gen Z audience.
But it requires a different approach.
Gen Z marketing demands of you a profound understanding of a generation characterised by digital natives, social consciousness, and a hunger for authenticity.
To capture its attention, marketers must prioritise transparency, genuineness, and socially responsible practices.
Gen Z values immersive experiences, interactive content, and engaging narratives that resonate with its diverse identities and interests.
Creating channel-specific content, building trust through unfiltered influencer collaborations, and consistently embodying brand values are essential.
Successful Gen Z marketing goes beyond pushing products; it’s about fostering a genuine connection based on shared values and meaningful experiences in a rapidly evolving digital landscape.
With plenty of experience in creating effective Gen Z marketing strategies, here are my top tips for connecting with this audience.
1. Authenticity Is the New Authority
Considering Gen Z’s deep appreciation for authenticity, I can’t stress enough how vital it is to create marketing strategies that truly connect with this audience.
In today’s marketing landscape, authenticity wields more influence than ever before. To cater to Gen Z, it’s essential to avoid excessive image editing and, when selecting models or talent, opt for individuals with diverse backgrounds who align with your brand’s values.
Gen Z values content that celebrates imperfections and wholeheartedly embraces authenticity over the pursuit of airbrushed perfection.
An excellent illustration of this approach can be found in Fenty Beauty, a brand that has wholeheartedly committed to diversity and has become a beacon of authenticity that resonates powerfully with Gen Z.
Forbes estimates that Fenty Beauty is worth a staggering $2.8 billion, underscoring the immense success that can be achieved through an authentic approach tailored to this generation.
2. Strategise with Influencer Marketing
Firstly, let me say, I love influencer marketing.
When you effectively integrate your brand with the right influencer strategy, it transcends mere mirror selfies; it evolves into a potent one-two punch, combining both content creation and endorsement within your marketing strategy.
When your brand partners with influencers who resonate with your values and have the freedom to create unfiltered content, you’re taking a significant step to building trust with Gen Z consumers.
This trust factor is crucial because, from my experience, I’ve seen that Gen Z is unapologetically vigilant when it comes to holding brands accountable for the content they produce.
To illustrate, let me share a recent influencer brief I managed for a national lingerie brand. In this campaign, influencers were briefed not to edit their images, encouraging them to embrace their uniqueness: including body hair, natural curves, and stretch marks.
This approach, in my opinion, goes a long way to fostering trust with Gen Z, which expects brands to be authentic and aligned with its values, even through the influencers they choose to collaborate with.
3. Incorporate Values Into Your Brand
When it comes to Gen Z marketing, I firmly believe that it goes beyond just promoting a product or service; it’s about communicating values.
Brands must consistently embody these values, making sure they are deeply ingrained in the company’s ethos.
Merely adding a rainbow to some merchandise for Pride Month won’t suffice; Gen Z expects us to consistently support the causes we claim to represent. Let me illustrate this with an example.
While I was the marketing manager at Dr. Pickles – a national tattoo aftercare brand – we experienced a substantial surge in sales when we partnered with a local animal sanctuary, aligning its vegan values with our vegan products.
This demonstrated how ‘walking the talk’ and being consistent in our values truly resonated with this discerning generation.
4. Embrace Immersive and Interactive Experiences
As someone deeply invested in Gen Z marketing, I’ve observed how this generation’s inclination towards immersive and interactive experiences has forced marketers to rethink their strategies, fusing traditional and digital methods.
Take, for instance, the case of Dr. Pickles’ Mystery Tattoo Stand, a marketing campaign I led. At this stand, patrons had the chance to get a tattoo without ever knowing what design they would receive.
It was an unconventional and intriguing experience that created quite the PR buzz. What’s fascinating is that this venture went beyond merely inking skin; it served as an introduction to the brand’s aftercare products, kickstarting a memorable customer journey.
Investing both time and budget into crafting these one-of-a-kind experiences can have a profound impact on engaging Gen Z and leaving a lasting impression.
5. Embrace the Power of Storytelling and Channel-Specific Content
In my experience, I’ve found that storytelling and narrative-driven marketing techniques are absolutely essential when it comes to holding Gen Z’s attention in today’s crowded digital landscape.
One key piece of advice I can offer is the importance of tailoring your content to specific channels.
Take, for example, the variance between TikTok and Instagram.
On TikTok, longer-form videos often find more success, allowing for a deeper narrative. On the other hand, Instagram thrives on shorter, more concise snippets that grab attention quickly.
The key is to craft your story to fit both the platform and the particular preferences of your target audience, ensuring that your message resonates effectively in the digital realm.
6. Collaborate for Market Penetration
When it comes to targeting Gen Z in marketing, I firmly believe that collaboration is a potent tool to break into new markets and capture the attention of this dynamic generation.
Consider the inspiring example of Crocs – a brand that experienced a remarkable resurgence during the COVID-19 pandemic.
It achieved this by forming strategic partnerships with influential figures like Justin Bieber, popular brands such as Taco Bell, and talented artists that included GFlip and Post Malone.
Through these collaborations, Crocs managed to transform a shoe once considered ‘ugly’ into a bona fide fashion icon, allowing wearers to express their unique individuality.
The key to successful collaborations, as exemplified by Crocs, is the ability to align with a brand’s core values while simultaneously sparking excitement and curiosity among the audience.
These partnerships should tread the fine line of being bold, enough to raise eyebrows and ignite conversations, without straying into territory that might alienate potential customers or encroach on another brand’s territory.
Furthermore, Crocs’ commitment to social responsibility shines through in its philanthropic efforts, such as donating more than 900,000 pairs of its footwear to healthcare workers and implementing limited product access to drive action.
This demonstrates Crocs’ willingness to embrace the concept of selling out – in the sense of achieving high demand and limited availability – all while reinforcing the appeal of its brand.
In a world where marketing landscapes are constantly shifting, the key to success lies in embracing change and adapting to the evolving preferences of each generation.
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