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A Marketer’s Guide to Reaching Generation Z

Mary McCormick
Jul 17, 2019
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The other day I texted my mom “love you” and got the response “LOL”

A little hurt, I asked her why she thinks that's funny. She responded, “It’s not funny. I just wanted to tell you I have lots of love.” 

That moment enlightenment me in two ways. I realized that 1) I am not the comedian I think I am and 2) she thinks LOL stands for Lots of Love instead of Laugh out Loud. 

Point #2 got me thinking. How do marketers know what ages, genders, etc. different from their own enjoy? How do they cater content to a target audience that they know nothing about? 

What’s the answer? 

After a bit of research, I discovered that by all means, it’s a challenge, but some key techniques will help you relate to whatever age group, demographic, or gender you are targeting. 

Why Marketing Methods Should Vary Among Target Audiences

Marketing practices aren’t one-size-fits-all. Different generations, genders, and demographics prefer different types of content and view it in different ways. 
Take a look at the graph below measuring different generations usage of technology:

( Source: )

Social Media

The way they access digital media varies along with the platforms they use -- like social media. 

See the different how demographic groups favor certain social media platforms below:

( Source: )


In the U.S., 90% of people over the age of 15 use email. Take a look at the email usage breakdown by age group:

( Source: )

How to Reach Generation Z

1. Social Media

Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter are platforms filled with Gen Z users. In fact, 85%of Gen Z researches new products on social media. 

  • Engaging Gen Z through social media is critical to your marketing success. In posts, don’t talk at them, talk with them. 
  • Provide superior customer service through social media. You’ll score big with the Gen Z kids by providing quality content that is entertaining and engaging. 
  • Create consumer trust through social media by encouraging followers that love your product to tag you in pictures using your product or service. 

Need specific social media tips? Check out my social media best practices series.

2. Visuals

In short, make your content pretty. Gen Z’s attention span is only 8 seconds long. Colorful and vivid pictures and videos will capture Gen Z’s attention. Memes and gifs are fun and entertaining ways to get noticed by Gen Zs. 

See how Gucci used a popular meme phrase to engage their followers:

Original meme:

( Source: )

Gucci’s meme:

( Source: )

3. Mobile-friendly Content

98% of Generation Z own smartphones and 53% of teens are using smartphones to make online purchases. If your content is not mobile-friendly, users will be unhappy, probably leave your site, and your Google rank will decrease. 

Try Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test to see how your website scores.

4. “Be Cool”

According to Google, teens say that the top 3 aspects that make a product “cool” are:

  1. If friends are talking about it
  2. If I see an ad about it
  3. If it’s something personalized to me

So how do you become something that the “cool kids” are talking about?

Check out my blog on word of mouth marketing to see tips on how to improve your word of mouth reputation. Also, using influencers in your advertisements is a great way to “be cool." Take a look at Adobe featuring Billie Eilish in their advertisements.

There was a contest where students used Adobe products to create art and Billie picked the winner. Adobe received hundreds of submissions from this campaign, and it enticed students to use Adobe products.

The FDA created an advertisement to convince teens that e-cigarettes are “uncool.” The advertisement’s goal was to inform them that “smokeless doesn’t mean harmless.” 

( Source: )

I clicked on it. I couldn’t help it. Definitely some graphic content there. In my opinion, VERY effective dissuasion against e-cigarettes.

5. Personalization

I carry my phone on my body for most of the day, and I swear, every time I mention Chipotle, an ad pops up on my phone. Coincidence? I think not, but I digress… 

We all fall victim as consumers to invasive and aggressive advertising based on data that search engines and social media platforms collect. On the other hand, data is valuable in creating a personalized experience for customers. 

So, what's the happy medium?

Use data to create personalized experiences on websites,  but don’t stalk your website visitors with creepily specific email campaigns or ads. 

Try optional short surveys that people can fill out to personalize their experience. 

Glossier offers a “What is Your Skincare Routine Missing?” quiz to figure out what products are best for their potential customer instead of customers having to figure that out for themselves. 

6. Highlight your social cause

Does your company stand for sustainability or support your community? 76% of young people say they would purchase from a brand to support their cause.

When delivering content, show what impact you’re making with the causes you support. 

Don’t make up a social cause just because it looks good. If your company has an existing and successful cause that is meaningful to both your employees and whatever it is you support, highlight this. 

Take Allbirds, for example:

Their cause lies in sustainability. On Allbirds’ website, they feature the measures they are taking to be environmentally friendly.

Recap of Reaching Gen Z Methods:

  • Be savvy in social media usage
  • Lots of visuals, fewer words
  • “Be cool”
  • Personalize experiences but don’t be invasive of privacy
  • Highlight your social cause
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