As a small business, it can be difficult to market to all the different age groups you want as customers, but it can help to consider the qualities and preferences of each generation as you launch your campaigns and attempt to build customer loyalty. In 2021, members of Generation Z, aged 16 to 24, have spent their entire lives in a digital world that older generations can remember emerging later in their lives. Following are seven points to consider when marketing to Gen Z.

1. Engage

Most members of Gen Z are attached to their smartphones, so you need to engage with them where they're paying attention. That means not only utilizing social media channels, but really paying attention to them and interacting with people who take the time to respond to what you share. Many young people will turn to social channels first to have a dialogue with a business, so monitor your direct/instant messages and respond in a helpful and timely fashion.

2. Be Transparent

As Carl Bennett at Reynolds & Reynolds notes in an article about how car dealerships can reach this age group, "Gen Z has the least amount of trust for traditional ads and marketing campaigns. In other words – they’re skeptical. They have also never had a question Google couldn’t answer, so they’re going to be educated…If they know more than your salespeople, be transparent but helpful. Find out which criteria is actually important to them and try to focus on those strengths."1

This principle can be applied to other types of businesses, as well. Gen Z knows how to research a product before they buy, and they know how to research the company that's selling it. If you're not being genuine, they can tell.

3. Use Video….Well

This is a generation that consumes the majority of their content through digital means. Many teens and 20-somethings watch more YouTube than traditional television or even Netflix. And don't forget Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, etc. This is the era of short-form video, and capturing their attention in this format should be a high priority for any business trying to reach this demographic. Just using video isn't enough, however. Businesses that are most successful reaching Gen Z will stay on the pulse of current trends and make relevant, shareable videos.

4. Use Hashtags

Speaking of trends, hashtags are a great way to pay attention to them. Use them, but use them smartly. It's not necessarily effective to just jump in the conversation to push your brand. Learn to identify trending tags that bear some relevance to your business. Try to get creative and clever with it.

Hashtags aren't just about trends, however. As Katherine Kim at Sprout Social explains, "Brands with a physical location can capitalize on Gen Z’s desire to be seen 'in the wild.' This speaks to the importance of not only having a hashtag for followers to promote, but something on-site worthy of snapshotting. For example: Disney Springs has a constant flood of customer photos to promote to their followers, thanks to their variety of hashtags."2

5. Lean Into Being a Small Business

A lot of members of Gen Z like the idea of supporting "the little guy," and have trust issues with big corporations. This is good news for a small business like yours. Play up this aspect of your company as you market yourself and put forth your brand image.

6. Show Them You Care About Privacy

Privacy is a major concern among most generations, but Gen Z is particularly attuned to it, perhaps given the very digital nature of their lives. You'll need to take customer privacy seriously to begin with, but also highlight the fact that you do so, and younger customers will appreciate it. Again, though, this must be genuine. 

7. Pay Attention to Likes

An Axios poll found that almost half of college students go out of their way to like, comment, and share content on social media specifically to train algorithms so they'll get similar content in the future.3 This is a good indicator that businesses should pay close attention to the likes, comments, and shares their social media posts are getting because chances are, this is not only the type of content the audience responds to most, but also the kind of content the algorithms are more likely to put in front of them.

Ultimately, if you want to reach Gen Z, it's best to be authentic, transparent, active on social media, and savvy when it comes to trends and modern media.

 

1. https://fuel.reyrey.com/sales-and-fi/2020/01/how-do-you-sell-to-gen-z/

2. https://sproutsocial.com/insights/marketing-to-gen-z/

3. https://www.axios.com/gen-z-is-eroding-the-power-of-misinformation-5940e3cd-e3d0-44a1-b66c-93be45fe1d2c.html