How to Market to Gen Z

generation z people on socialmedia

When it comes to digital marketing, businesses find themselves in a position where they’re forced to adapt to an uncertain environment that is dictated by consumer demand.

And as expected with a new decade quickly approaching, businesses are beginning to notice changes in consumer demographics -- people are getting older. Specifically, they’re witnessing how Generation Z, (or Gen Z for short) can influence market trends through word-of-mouth advertising on the internet.

For marketers to effectively utilize the concepts of inbound marketing, they must first have a clear understanding of whom they are marketing towards. A study conducted by FutureCast® and Barkley breaks down some of the core driving forces behind this generation. The study concludes that brands willing to play by the rules of Gen Z will ultimately win their loyalty. Therefore, understanding these rules is crucial for success in 2018 and beyond.

Understanding their Personal Beliefs and Expectations

When it comes to personality traits, much of every generation’s ideology is rooted in the environment they grew up in. This pattern isn’t any different for Gen Z, as their views on success are very telling. When asked about what it takes to become successful, 69 percent agreed that luck has nothing to do with it.

When compared to older generations, Gen Z teens have a more realistic outlook on life. A study conducted by the Pew Research Center concluded that there could be as many as 17 negative news reports for every positive one on a daily basis. As a result, teens have become familiar with the concept of failure and have very realistic expectations for what it takes to become successful. 

Creating the Right Kind of Ads

Today, Gen Z teens are exhibiting maturity beyond their years concerning the world’s social issues. Over 70 percent of teens agreed that they preferred ads that showed people in real situations as well as ads that didn’t make life look perfect. While this is something that the majority of all generations agree with, Gen Z teens feel the strongest about realism.

This preference is a telltale sign for marketers that the days of creating fairytale-like ads are over. Today, consumers today are looking for ads that they can connect to on a personal level. As the demographic continues to grow, firms will need to ensure that their goals align with those of Gen Z.

A Strong Desire For Inclusion and Acceptance

Brands that are looking to target Gen Z should aim to create a culture of inclusion and acceptance. When it comes to diversity, today’s teens have no tolerance for discrimination. When surveyed, they had this to say on the topic:

  • 60 percent of teens stated that they liked seeing ads that show diverse types of families
  • 71 percent of teens stated that they liked seeing ads that show real people, and not just gender stereotypes from the past
  • 61 percent of teens agreed that changing ideas about the topic of gender is allowing more people to be themselves


While Gen Z teens have no tolerance for discrimination, they also expect to be treated similarly in return. Teens today have a strong desire to be accepted by society, which is why public image matters so much to them. It’s at this point where they pivot away from Millennials. Gen Z place greater emphasis on self-image. Of all participants, 31 percent of the Gen Z teens claimed that they would rather be unique than genuine; and 49 percent claim that they would pay a premium for products that conveyed them in their desired image.

This emphasis on self-image can be attributed to them being teenagers who naturally want to fit in. Yet, when it comes to Gen Z, there seems to be more to it.

Gen Z teens grew up with instant access to the internet, which means they’ve always had social media. As a result, teens are shaping their identities based off of their interactions on social media. To confirm this, one can break down the usage of different social media platforms by Gen Z when compared to other generations.

Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Tumblr, Vine, and Kik are some of the platforms with the greatest disparity among generational users. The reason for such a big difference in usage is because Gen Z prefers visual platforms, which correlates with their need for maintaining a unique self-image.

These findings can say a lot about how marketing on social media will change in the coming years. Name brands will need to adapt by creating ads that are tailored to these visual platforms. Learning how to create video and display ads will be a priority for any brand.

If you’d like to grow your company’s online presence, then we can streamline your outreach efforts and provide measurable results. We’re TechWyse, the full-service digital marketing solution for small businesses. To learn more, call us today at 866.208.3095 or contact us here.

It's a competitive market. Contact us to learn how you can stand out from the crowd.

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