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Brand Purpose Gen Z Gen Alpha

Marketing to young people? It’s as easy as A, B, (gen) Z...

By Mike Wickham, Paid media director



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June 13, 2024 | 8 min read

Gen Z has been on marketers’ radars for some time now. But with gen Alpha just around the corner, Yasmin Burchill and Mike Wickham of Impression take a look at how best to connect with young consumers.

A hand holds a package with stickers on it

Young consumers expect brands to be just a click-away, and product delivery to be just as fast / Markus Spiske via Unsplash

Be everywhere. Be authentic. Be direct. It can seem challenging to successfully market to gen Z, and the younger-still gen Alpha. These digital-first cohorts, who have always had technology at their fingertips, want brand interactions to be meaningful - and, ideally, to change the world for the better. No small order, then. But, with the right approach, your marketing strategy can have the power to cut through and meet these young consumers where they are.

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Be just a click away

Let’s further unpack accessibility. Instant availability of technology is something of an expectation among younger consumers. Thanks to social media, instant gratification is now the norm. Immediacy is expected of brands in all interactions, with consumers wanting high levels of speed and also seamlessness in their service.

It’s therefore more necessary than ever to be available, and to be present organically across all major search and social platforms. Paid media will, of course, provide greater visibility. But with so many areas to cover the key is to understand the effectiveness of each platform so that you can plan your budget accordingly to drive maximum impact.

The ease of user experience and the speed at which orders are fulfilled is also crucial. Local inventory ads across search are a powerful tool to allow customers to know where and when they can collect an order, while having an abundance of delivery options can make all the difference to a decision to buy. Next-day delivery, even to a pick-up point, is increasingly a ‘must’ for buyers. “Delivery in 3-5 days” sounds slow in an Amazon-Prime-World. And on that note, for direct-to-consumer (D2C) brands, an Amazon store – ie a store hosted on Amazon for your brand – can be a great idea.

Stand for something

Over the last few years, there has been a lot of rhetoric around that consumer loyalty is disappearing. Although this has some truth to it – the access to information, mentioned above, allows consumers to easily shop around – the gen Z audience can also be a loyal group. A commendable characteristic of this demographic is that they care. Sustainability, representation, and social justice are as important to them as accessibility and service. It’s therefore important to build a brand identity that speaks to these values.

This isn’t always easy to get right. It’s hard to appeal to everyone, and gen Zs want brands to take a stand alongside them. Marketing gimmicks aren’t enough. Clear and continued efforts to leave the world in a better place than you found it are necessary. But the rewards of this are two-fold: you gain a loyal following of repeat customers, and you help the planet. Win-win.

Trust is of course a fragile thing, though, and efforts to maintain it must be ongoing. Gen Zs are born in a world where they share their experiences. Bad experiences posted in stories or written into reviews will reach a far wider audience than ever before. Good experiences, however, are immediate marketing collateral that can and should be utilized.

Connection counts

Gen Zs want to be spoken to more directly, valuing authentic communication over big-budget TV ads. Influencer marketing has, of course, been around for a long time, but the trust that Gen Zs place in their peers far outreaches their trust of more traditional marketing methods. The rise of TikTok has continued to evidence this, with native and user-generated content formats far outperforming traditional commercials.

More personalized experiences, therefore, are important to make those key connections. Influencer marketing is one of the tools at your disposal to help to relate better and connect at a more individual level, but there are plenty of other tactics available too. Sequential messaging, for example, can help to better tell your story over time and can be tailored to take different groups on different paths.

Audience segmentation is, of course, key to tailoring your messages to the right individuals. For this, you need a robust testing and measurement framework to understand which elements of your campaigns are resonating with which audiences.

There’s a lot to consider when marketing to younger generations. It’s impossible to appeal to everybody, especially if you try to use the same message for each audience. So, in short: ensure you are present across the whole digital sphere. Be easy to find, and easy to contact. Make it as effortless for the customer to buy as possible.

Diversify your campaigns and try new things. Don’t treat everyone the same, instead experiment with messaging and creative to understand what works. Personalize where you can, and importantly, base decisions on evidence, not assumption. Lastly, be authentic, be responsible, and give back to the community. Not just because it will help you build brand loyalty, but because you should. With your head – and your heart – in the right place, marketing to gen Z and gen Alpha almost becomes easy.

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