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How to Market to Gen Z in 2023

For decades Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Millennials dominated the consumer scene. Today, a “new” generation—Gen Z—is rising in the ranks of consumer influence and spending power.

Generational groups are roughly determined by age and what’s happening culturally. Boomers (born 1946-64) were shaped by the “American Dream,” Civil Rights Movement, Vietnam War, and the radicalism of the 70s and 80s. Generation X (1965-80) was characterized by Watergate, more women in the workplace, corporate downsizing, and increased independence. Millennials (1981-96) grew up during the Internet Age, 9/11, and the Great Recession. And Gen Z (1997-2010) was influenced by

social networking and mobile phones, gender equality, and corporate social responsibility. All of these factors (and more) can help marketers better understand the buying behaviors of their target audiences. Because for each generational group, their experiences, wants, needs, challenges, and values differ.

According to a McKinsey report, Gen Z values 4 critical things:

  1. Expressing individuality (there is not one way to define someone)

  2. Being part of community (especially online communities)

  3. Fostering dialogue and understanding (conversation > cancel culture)

  4. Being pragmatic and realistic (less idealism than their millennial predecessors)

With this knowledge and insights from social media marketing, we’ve devised 5 tips to market to GenZers.

5 Tips for Marketing to Gen Z

1. Build trust.

It’s important to build lasting relationships with your target audiences. It’s especially important with Gen Z. Are you transparent about your business practices? Do customers feel heard and valued? Does your brand practice what you preach? Keeping these questions in mind will foster trust and keep you customers coming back again and again.

2. Be authentic.

Zoomers are all about searching for truth and they want to align themselves with brands they believe in. At the same time, they can sniff out performative acts that feel insincere (i.e. greenwashing, when a brand’s campaigns and audiences don’t match its C-Suite, or when a company advertises allyship with a cause but doesn’t follow through with real action).

3. Cultivate community.

Gen Z grew up with cell phones in hand; they’ve been connected since day 1. Building community and connection—whether online or in person—should be central to any brand’s campaign. Put your spin on a TikTok trend, create a unique hashtag, and offer opportunities for consumers to engage with each other (through commenting, live events, or interactive games). User generated content (i.e. real people using your products rather than staged models in a photoshoot) adds to this sense of brand unity, community, and trust.

4. Go for video.

When it comes to Gen Z, video content is king. Keep it short and entertaining (ideal for the majority of viewers who access content via mobile). TikTok and Instagram Reels are incredibly popular and effective for this generation that grew up with YouTube.

5. Join them.

Influencer Marketing Hub recently posted “128 Social Media Sites You Need to Know in 2023.” That’s a lot. A better idea is to focus on the places your audience actually lives. For Gen Z, that’s TikTok, Instagram, and BeReal. Catering your marketing to the platforms your audiences prefer will save you time, energy, and money. If you want your campaigns to be seen and heard, you’ve got to go where the people are. We're interested to see if BeReal opens its doors to advertisers in 2023 ...

Check out Hootsuite’s “The Global State of Digital 2022” for more insights on GenZ's behaviors, preferences, and trends.

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