This 18-Year-Old Marketer Explains How to Appeal to Generation Z - Moderator

28 Aug 2017 - 08:38 |

This 18-Year-Old Marketer Explains How to Appeal to Generation Z

The latest marketing challenge for companies to tackle is the looming generation after Millennials. Those born in 1996 and later are dubbed Gen Z and are quickly becoming a powerful demographic.

As soon as 2020 the demographic will make up 40% of consumer spending and have a massive influence on what companies dominate. Gen Z is known for being “digital natives” and living in an era with abundant technology, which seems similar to Millennials, but there is a lot more to Gen Z than meets the eye.

I turned to one of the leading Generation Z experts to talk about what makes this cohort of people so different from other generations and what companies can do to appeal to them. Connor Blakley is a youth marketing strategist and founder of YouthLogic.

Blakley works with clients like Sprint, Modells Sports, and The NPD Group in order to boost youth engagement. His take on today’s youth boils the group down to two pivotal characteristics.


Gen Z Is Skill Oriented

Every generation typically has a defining event that makes them who they are. In the case of Gen Z, the Great Recession was the major driver that made them incredibly realistic and driven. They grew up seeing their parents likely struggling financially and potentially unemployed. When they wanted something extra, parents often said they needed to earn money to save up for it. Overall, Gen Z from an early-age saw they needed to work in order to survive and live the life they want.

As a result, Gen Z is an incredible skill oriented generation. 42% of Gen Z has begun working on a craft, in comparison to 25% of Millennials, when they were the same age. These skills range from starting a business (58%), graphic design (51%), video production (50%), and app creation (50%).

It is no surprise the skills most in demand are those highly- linked with modern success and independent wealth creation. Gen Z wants to be able to earn income through more sophisticated means than mowing lawns and never wants to go through the financial struggles they witnessed in 2008.

Companies looking to develop relationships with Gen Z can create skill-building opportunities. The wave of hackathons has become an incredible opportunity for organizations to get face-to-face time with young people and get their products in Gen Z’s hands. Twilio, an automation software utilizes hackathons as a chance to teach the future unicorn-founders and major developers for tech giants how to use their product and add that skill to their toolbelt.


Gen Z Cares About Reality

Due to learning harsh realities about the world from a young age, Gen Z is one of the first generations to largely diverge from obsessions over celebrities. Gen Z would rather see “real people” than celebrities in advertisements at a rate of 63% to 37%. These real people include their favorite social media influencers, who are more ordinary content creators than red carpet movie stars.

Developing this authentic relationship with Gen Z and being able to be relatable is important for connecting with them and maintaining a dialogue.

In order for brands to leverage this characteristic to full potential, there needs to be an orientation of their marketing and branding that focuses on authenticity. Without a sense of candidness, brands will be perceived more so as corporations trying to make a profit and will struggle as effectively communicating the brand story. Try to adopt a more casual approach and make your marketing sound more like a person than a corporate entity.

Additionally, identifying the correct social media influencers for brand alignment is crucial to ensure organizations can not only reach an audience but also effectively communicate to that audience. As they look at influencers to work with, important considerations are what that person’s audience is looking for and thinking about when viewing their content.

While Gary Vaynerchuk has a huge audience, they are likely not looking to him for advice on fashion and are also expecting a certain tone to what he is saying. Thinking like your brand’s consumers can help illuminate what influencers are best for authentic content collaborations.

As times change and the consumer base continues to evolve, Gen Z can either be an opportunity or a hazard for companies. Recognizing the two main characteristics of Gen Z as being skill- oriented and realistic can help any company build a better brand moving forward and hopefully increase their market share.