What You Need to Know About Marketing to Generation Z (It Has to do with $44 billion)

Marketing to Generation Z

Marketing to Generation Z is about to kick into high gear over the next few years. It seems like just yesterday everyone’s focus was on Millennials. What happened?

According to recent research, the world’s youngest generation already has $44 billion in spending power, makes up 26% of the population, and will account for 40% of all consumers by 2020.

Bottom line? You can’t ignore Generation Z’s marketing potential.

Marketing to Generation Z

Generation Z’s mentality is shaped by the expectation that they will have to work harder than the generations before them. This is a direct result of two factors:

  1. Growing up during the Great Recession, which resulted in a median net worth decrease of 45% for their Generation X parents
  2. Watching the millennial generation—many of whom are older siblings, cousins, and friends—become mired in debt from student loans and credit cards that delay their ability to purchase homes, get married, and make other big life decisions.


Tips for Creating Generation Z Marketing Strategies

This generation values brands that showcase authenticity and transparency. That means everything from imagery to copy needs to avoid being overproducedSalesforce even reported that “Dormify, a shop offering décor for small spaces, finds that darker, lower-quality imagery works best for Gen Z.”

Because this generation grew up in the Great Recession, they’re more focused on saving their money than Millennials are. This means focusing on features like quality, value, investment, and savings could provide valuable payoffs in your marketing messages.

Want one last Generation Z marketing tidbit?

98% of Gen Z still like to shop in-store! That seems shocking for a generation of digital natives. Wouldn’t they want to do all of their shopping online using their collection of mobile devices?

It turns out they do a combination of digital and in-store shopping.

Because they’re conscious of spending habits, Gen Z-ers use their digital savvy to research products online and then visit brick and mortar locations to handle the product and verify that it’s worth their money.

But there’s a catch.

Stores must create an engaging experience if they wish to attract Generation Z. In-store demonstrations, free classes, and more can all be used to enhance the shopping experience and encourage two-way interaction.

Generation Z Market Research

This is a generation that’s been shaped by the war on terrorism, the Great Recession, and the digital age. Because of this, they have a realistic, practical approach to jobs and money whereas Millennials tend to be optimistic and believe growing as an individual requires constant learning.

What Does Gen Z Care About?

There are four main things that Generation Z is concerned with:

  1. Equality. Sexual orientation, race, and social background are less grounds for discrimination among Generation Z than they are for acceptance.
  2. Working for success. Gen Z-ers believe that achieving a successful career and life requires hard work and dedication.
  3. Authenticity and truth. Being true to yourself is extremely important and transparency among brands is equally significant.
  4. Access to the internet. FOLO (fear of living offline) is one of Gen Z-ers’ biggest fears.

Hardworking, socially conscious, digital savvy, and focused on real experiences, Generation Z presents marketers with a new challenge.

Here’s How You Can Use this Information:

There are 2 main reasons people make purchases, and Generation Z is no different:

  1. Self fulfillment
  2. Fear

When you’re marketing to Gen Z, keep their four biggest concerns in mind. Address the ones that can be solved in some shape or form by your product or service. By doing this you’ll be able to successfully—and artfully—convey that your product or service can either fulfill a selfish desire or mitigate a fear. Once you do that, you’re as close to guaranteed sales as you can get.

Generation Z’s Perspectives on Money

According to a report from Experian, Generation Z has approximately three times less debt than Baby Boomers. They grew up watching Millennials struggle to pay off massive amounts of student loan debt and have no desire to put their lives on hold for the same reasons. Another factor that contributes to their low debt? Most of Gen Z is still working their way through high school and haven’t yet begun to accumulate debt.

Their aversion to debt is also reflected in their uncertainty towards investing in the stock market—likely the product of witnessing their parent’s net worth plunge during the Great Recession. An interesting survey by TD Ameritrade revealed that Gen Z believes the best way to save for retirement is with a savings account.

Generation Z Purchasing Power

With approximately $44 billion in buyer power, Gen Z is a force to be reckoned with. They’re still a long way off from the $200 billion spending power of Millennials, but the gap will close rapidly as Gen Z ages and continues to enter the workforce.

Generation Z Characteristics and Preferences

Many of Generation Z’s characteristics are a product of the things they care about the most. The things they are most concerned about have shaped their characteristics and preferences:

  • Being realistic and relatable
  • Consuming information quickly
  • Appreciation of digital privacy
  • Improving the world
  • Ownership of “things” rather than just access to them

Appeal to these traits in your marketing to begin capturing the attention and loyalty of Gen Z consumers.

Generation Z Favorite Brands

It’s all about authenticity and digital access for Generation Z. Brands like Nike, Dormify, American Eagle, and Kate Spade fit right into the Gen Z collection of favorites.

For example, Dormify uses user generated content (UGC) photography that—while lower and darker in quality—appeals to Gen Z-ers’ appetite for authenticity. Check out the engagement on their professional post (left) versus the UGC instagram post (right):

What you need to know about marketing to generation z


Engagement on the UGC post was almost 6X higher than engagement on the professional post.

Kate Spade has done an amazing job relating to Generation Z. A perfect example is their series of branded #missadventure videos featuring Anna Kendrick:

Not only is Kendrick’s character a perfect representation of a digital native who enjoys owning “stuff,” but she’s also relatable in a goofy way, and very transparent about self-expression.

Generation Z Communication Preferences

Communicating with Generation Z requires a combination of digital intelligence and face-to-face engagement. While they grew up living and breathing digital communication, they also recognize the importance of face-to-face interaction and many believe it is more effective than online forms of contact.

Generation Z Social Media Statistics

Here’s a great statistic to start things off: 80% of purchases made by Generation Z are influenced by social media. That shouldn’t come as a huge surprise, considering that many of Gen Z check social media up to 100 times each day!

The amount of video this generation consumes and posts on social media is mind boggling compared to every other generation. 25% post original videos every week because they believe self-expression is very important. A whopping 80% are on social media every day and 9 out of 10 watch YouTube videos every day.

Find Out the Best Reasons for Using Social Influencers in Your Marketing Strategy


Here’s what this all boils down to: focus on visual communication across multiple platforms and create two-way conversations that allow Gen Z-ers to self-express. Make sure that video becomes a part of your strategy for reaching Generation Z. Platforms like YouTube are part of their everyday lives, as are Snapchat and Instagram. Even Facebook is moving more towards video capabilities.

Gen Z’s recognition of face-to-face interaction as an important part of communication could provide an interesting explanation for the the way video chat and social video has exploded in popularity. Platforms like Snapchat and Instagram Stories are crowded with videos of people filming their faces. Those videos are then consumed by their friends and followers.

Wrapping up With Some Generation Z Marketing Tips

Brands that want to engage Gen Z-ers should focus on using a combination of digital and in-person tactics that create a comprehensive experience.

How Brands Can Engage Generation Z:

  • Create authentic experiences. Be direct and create a way for Gen Z to express and share their thoughts and feelings through interactions. That means investing more time in community management with a strong dose of brand personality.
  • Focus on “snackable” content. Gen Z’s attention span is so short that it’s been compared to that of a goldfish. They’re used to being served large amounts of information and sorting through it very quickly.
  • Focus on short-term digital footprints. This is a generation that often prefers to create content that doesn’t last. Instagram Stories, Snapchat, and similar social platforms are their preference because the content only lives for 24 hours and then the footprint disappears. Brands should focus on sharing day-to-day stories that entertain and engage.
  • Give them ownership. Unlike Millennials, who prefer shared experiences and services (Uber and Airbnb for example), Generation Z wants ownership in the experience and in the physical world (houses, cars, and “stuff”).
  • Find a cause to support. This generation wants to see brands committed to a cause and who are working to make the world a better place.

Humanize your brand and you’ll be able to capture the attention and appreciation of Generation Z. Above all, they just want to interact with brands that are genuine, caring, and focused on delivering high quality.