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Gen Z: Marketing To The Anxious Generation

GEN Z Generation

Curious about which generation will hold the most power in the digital marketing world in 2023 and further? Move over, millennials. Enter: Gen Z, comprising 27% of the global population. Why the power?

First, the size of Gen Z is a force to be reckoned with. According to Business Insider, Gen Z’s spending power will reach $33 trillion by 2030 – more than a quarter of all global income.

Second, Gen Z is a very digital-savvy generation. They’ve grown up in a world where technology has always been a part of their lives. So, they’re fluent in using digital devices and platforms. In fact, 98% of Gen Z own a smartphone, and they spend an average of 4 hours daily on their devices, according to a report by GlobalWebIndex.

Third, Gen Z values authenticity, diversity, and inclusivity. They are more likely to support brands that align with their values and beliefs and call out brands that do not. A whopping 70% of Gen Z are involved in a social or political cause and believe that brands should take a stand on such issues.

Gen Z Buying Patterns

Let’s go back to the digital-savvy part. With an overwhelming majority of Gen Z being mobile users, their phones make tools used for everything, from product research and price comparison to purchasing and sales planning. Brands with mobile-optimized websites, fast-loading pages, and user-friendly interfaces are more likely to capture Gen Z’s attention and keep them engaged.

Gen Z is used to instant gratification and values comfort above all else. Brands that offer fast and free shipping, flexible payment options, and easy returns are more likely to appeal to Gen Z. In addition, brands that use chatbots, social media messaging, or other convenient communication methods are more likely to provide a seamless and personalized shopping experience.

To Gen Z, online reviews mean more than any other generation. 86% of Gen Z reads personal reviews before making a purchase. Yet in the US, around 52% of Gen Z prefer to shop online, while 48% prefer to shop in-store. While there’s a balance between the physical and digital, the love for online keeps growing. And even when Gen Z shops in-store, they extend that experience with technology by following brands online, taking part in digital campaigns, subscribing to newsletters, and more. Online shopping plays a huge role due to convenience. But there’s a big factor that shapes in-store purchases for Gen-Z – social. They share shopping with friends and family, treating it as a bonding experience.

When it comes to products, quality is obviously the central aspect behind buying decisions, with price being the second. Other factors influencing Gen Z include:

  • Sustainability. Gen Z has immense persuasion power over the older generations. Under the influence of Gen Z, Gen X consumers’ preference to shop sustainable brands increased by 24%, and their willingness to pay more for sustainable products increased by 42% since 2019. Today,nearly 90% of Gen X consumers stated they’d be willing to spend 10% extra or more for sustainable products, compared to just over 34% two years ago.
  • Convenience. According to a 2021 survey by National Retail Federation, 56% of Gen Zers said they expect a retailer’s website to be easy to navigate and find products, and 51% said they expect fast and free shipping.

Gen Z Motivations

Social Media Influence

Ultimately, the first decision-influencing factor for Gen Z is  social media.  It’s safe to say that nearly all 100% of Gen Z use social media in one way or another. To give you a better perspective, let’s focus on which platforms are used the most.

According to a survey by Morning Consult, 88% of Gen Z use YouTube, which makes it the generation’s platform of choice by a long shot. Instagram ranks second, used by around 76% of Gen Zers. TikTok takes third place, followed by Twitter and Facebook. Although, with the rising popularity of TikTok, we don’t expect it to stay overcast by other platforms.

YouTube is usually associated with content that educates or entertains — whether it’s “how to” videos, vlogs, pranks, and such. TikTok shares the same notion. So, it’s easy to see how creating video content that provides value can actually take your marketing goals far. It could be a tutorial for your latest product or a breakdown of a particular topic. The more you can teach Gen Z about your industry or product, the better. The amount of marketing content on TikTok – whether obvious or not – leads product discovery among younger audiences. And if you’re still figuring out how to market on TikTok, we have things to say – check out this blog post.


Another factor Gen Z places a high value on is  experiences. According to a survey by Eventbrite, 78% of Gen Z prefer to spend money on experiences rather than material goods.

One example of a brand that has successfully tapped into this trend is Airbnb. The platform offers unique travel experiences that enable users to dive into local culture and communities. Airbnb also offers a range of online experiences to be accessed from anywhere in the world, such as cooking classes with local chefs and virtual tours of famous landmarks.

The energy drink brand Red Bull has built a loyal following among Gen Z by creating truly unique experiences. From extreme sports events and festivals, publicity stunts, and massive influencer marketing, they’ve found a way to sell “a way of life” instead of a product. There’s also the Red Bull TV channel, which offers live streaming of events and original programming.

The beauty retailer Sephora has created a range of immersive experiences that have helped them establish a loyal customer base among Gen Z. Their Sephora Beauty Insider community offers members access to exclusive events and personalized beauty advice, and they have also launched in-store experiences such as virtual makeup try-on and skincare consultations.

Values & Beliefs

Gen Z values authenticity, transparency, social justice, and environmental sustainability. So, they’re more likely to choose products and services that align with their values.

Some of the key values of Gen Z include:

  • Authenticity and transparency: Gen Z expects brands to be honest and transparent in their marketing. They’re less likely to trust brands using deceptive advertising tactics or hiding their true motives.
  • Social justice: Gen Z consumers are passionate about social justice and are more likely to support brands that promote equality and inclusivity.
  • Environmental sustainability: Gen Z consumers are concerned about the environment and are more likely to choose eco-friendly products and support brands that prioritize sustainability.
  • Individuality: Gen Z consumers value individuality and self-expression. They are more likely to support brands that allow them to express themselves and be unique.

Some examples of brands that have successfully used values and beliefs to market themselves to Gen Z include:

Nike: Nike has been a champion of social justice causes for decades and has recently taken a strong stance on issues such as racial equality and LGBTQ+ rights. Nike’s marketing campaigns often feature athletes who are outspoken about social justice issues, which resonates with Gen Z consumers passionate about these causes.

Patagonia: Patagonia has long been a leader in the sustainable fashion movement and has built a loyal following among Gen Z consumers concerned about the environment. Patagonia’s marketing campaigns often promote sustainability and encourage consumers to reduce their carbon footprint.

Glossier: Glossier is a beauty brand that has gained a cult following among Gen Z consumers thanks to its emphasis on individuality and self-expression. Glossier’s marketing campaigns often feature real customers, which helps to build a sense of community and authenticity.

Ben & Jerry’s: Ben & Jerry’s is a socially conscious ice cream brand that has long been an advocate for social justice causes. The brand’s marketing campaigns often promote equality and inclusivity and encourage consumers to take action on issues such as climate change and racial justice.

Authenticity & Fun

As we’ve mentioned before, Gen Z responds well to brands that align with their values and have a bigger cause surrounding their product than just selling. But there are things beyond that: jokes, personalities, and emotions that Gen Z can connect with. Let’s look at a few examples of Gen Z marketing done right:

  • Instagram. The “We Make Today” campaign featured footage by the network’s users instead of hiring actors. “We Make Today” highlighted a scope of Instagram creators, showing personalities Gen Z could easily relate to. It also conveyed that the platform connects people to support causes they care about — like sustainability, mental health, and equality. And third, Instagram included a truly diverse cast, adding an authentic social-media-friendly style to their production.
  • Spotify. Spotify Wrapped isn’t exactly a new feature on the scene, but it is successful. Users’ most played songs over the year gathered in a shareable playlist is good enough, but Wrapped took it to another level. Now, there’s greater personalization: Spotify offers users an Instagram story and an identity marker based on what they’ve listened to. It also highlighted the most active listeners of certain artists, placing users in the top percentile and letting them share these stats.
  • Ryanair. Look their TikTok account up. Just take our word and do it.

Summing Up

Gen Z trends just hit differently. With that said, we hope you get the point better now. You might love or hate them, but they’re here to stay – and shape the future of digital marketing. Take notes of Gen Z’s shopping habits; even though they change in a flash, that’s what makes targeting this group entertaining. To understand Gen Z fully is to let them work alongside you – so don’t hesitate to have Zoomers on your team. 

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