Gen Z and Marketing

Best Ways to Reach Gen Z with Your Marketing Efforts

You may think you’re marketing to Gen Z, but are you doing it right? After all, Gen Zers are not the same as the millennials. So if you haven’t made an effort to customize your marketing strategies and messaging for Gen Z, you are probably missing the mark.

Gen Zers are those born between 1997 and 2012. Most are in the tween and teen years currently, but the oldest have already graduated from college and many entered the job market during the pandemic. As reported by Bloomberg, at the end of 2021, Gen Z has $360 billion in disposable income. This is more than double the estimate from three years earlier.  They have a lot of purchasing power of their own, but there is also a tremendous amount of spending done on their behalf by their millennial, Gen X and boomer parents and grandparents.  

They are the youngest generation that weathered the recession of 2008, watching from the sidelines as their parents struggled with overwhelming student loans and consumer debt. And, of course, they are coming of age during a global pandemic. The cohort is already busy with full-time jobs and side gigs. They will spend money but, unlike their parents, they are collectively thrifty and conscientious consumers. So in order to win them over, you’re going to have to give them what they want.


4 Best Ways to Reach Gen Z with Marketing Efforts


When it comes to marketing, it’s important to include strategies that target Gen Z with intention. They are a diverse group so remember there is no one-size-fits-all strategy. That being said, here are four methods that have a decent chance of putting your brand front and center with this important young demographic when included in your marketing efforts.



Sustainability generally refers to efforts we put into place to protect the environment and the needs of future generations as well as the planet as a whole. Although Gen Z didn’t invent sustainability, they will most likely lay claim to it. It is, after all, their banner to carry forward. But, despite the generations of deleterious activity that belie this notion, mankind has been concerned with sustainability since the start of the Industrial Revolution.

Although Gen Zers aren’t the only ones concerned with the environment and combating climate change, they are more serious about it than any other generation. We have just one livable planet and a growing global population. Earth and humanity simply cannot flourish with a continuation of the harmful practices of the past century. According to a joint survey by IBM and the National Retail Federation, 55% of Gen Z prefer to do business with brands that care about the environment and are socially responsible. They are even willing to pay up to 50% more for a sustainably made item, according to Vogue Business. 

Reduce, reuse, recycle. That’s the Gen Z mantra. This doesn’t just apply to the products themselves. It also has to do with custom packaging. Why pay more for a sustainable cotton T-shirt just to discover that it comes shipped in BPA plastic packaging that isn’t biodegradable?

Custom packaging is part of the brand experience. The companies that consider what’s best for the environment will win the hearts and loyalties of Gen Z consumers. That's why it's beneficial to choose eco-friendly and high-quality packaging options like custom mailer boxes or custom shipping boxes.

Sustainable packaging is not only safe and beneficial for communities, it is also made and recycled using renewable energy and clean production techniques. 

Humanizing The Brand

Brands have personalities — at least the ones most beloved by Gen Z do. But how can you humanize your brand so that it can make meaningful connections with your target audience? It’s all in how you relate using social media, lifecycle channels and content. Some brands have an actual human face, such as brand ambassadors. That’s fine, but not necessary. It’s more important to create personalized interactions directly with Gen Z consumers.

Duolingo, a language learning app, is a good example. The brand uses an animated owl, Duo, who encourages you to reach your goals. When you aren’t keeping up with your daily practice, Duo may pop up in an SMS message or push notification to tell you that “you made Duo sad.” Duo the owl also makes appearances in TikTok videos in a feathery green costume. Of course, behind the antics and the snarky comments are creative members of the Duolingo team. 

This strategy has helped Duolingo become highly popular with TikTok audiences. The sole intent is not to sell, however, according to social media coordinator Zaria Parvez, a recent college graduate and member of Gen Z. Gen Z wants to be entertained. And when you entertain them, you build rapport, and they are more likely to engage with your brand.

Meet Them Where They Are

Facebook is so 2010. Or is it? It’s true that in 2021, 26.4% of all U.S. Facebook users were between 25 and 34. A mere 16.2% fell in the 18 to 24-year-old bucket and 3.2% in the 13 to 17-year-old category. However, just because more than half of all Facebook users are over 35 doesn’t mean that the platform is moribund for Gen Z.

A closer look at usage numbers shows that the percent of Gen Z Facebook users in 2021 had grown by nearly 17% over the previous year. But it pales in comparison to TikTok, where the growth rate is over 42%. In terms of how many of the total Gen Z population is using which platforms, YouTube is the big winner with 77%. Instagram, TikTok and Snapchat numbers aren’t too shabby either at 67%, 64% and 60%, respectively. Facebook has a total usage rate among Gen Z of 42%. But even though usage is not as high as the other platforms, it’s still trending in the right direction. 

The point is that you can’t assume that you know where your target Gen Z audience is active. You need to make data-driven decisions. Your brand may indeed get more bang for the buck on Instagram over Facebook. The important thing is to understand your target audience and its behavior on each of the platforms. McKinsey reports that during the 2021 Christmas shopping season, 87% of Gen Z will get their shopping inspiration from YouTube, Instagram and TikTok. The lesson? Find out where your audience is and meet them where they are.

Snackable Content

People, Gen Z included, do not have the attention spans of goldfish. As anyone who has binge-watched five hours of “30 Rock” knows there is no real science behind that old myth. Still, there is a lot of noise out there, particularly when there are so many platforms vying for attention. Multitasking used to mean eating a tuna sandwich at your desk and cleaning out your email inbox at the same time. These days millennials split their attention between three screens. Not to be outdone, those digitally native Gen Zs use five: smartphone, laptop, tablet, desktop and television. 

Short, snackable content is a good idea for a number of reasons. It’s easily consumed, shareable and extremely effective among the Gen Z audience. They may have more than eight seconds of attention to give, but you’ll do best if you grab ‘em fast. It’s true, Gen Z tends to skip ads when given the option. In fact, they do it faster than millennials and Gen X. But what they lack in attention, they make up for in recall. When Gen Zers watch an ad for less than two seconds, 55% of them can correctly recall the content. On average, they’ll give you an average of 9.5 seconds. That’s a generous amount of time to make a connection as long as you can keep their eyeballs on the device. 

Gen Z is not an easy audience to reach. But it’s crucial to your marketing strategy to do so. They are the future generation, and with their interest in financial literacy, they will accumulate wealth more quickly than previous generations. Just ensure that your strategies to reach them are intended for them rather than for the habits of millennials. Show them that your brand respects them and aligns with their values, and you will gain loyal customers.


Final Thoughts


Want to learn more about marketing your business to the Gen Z audience? Hawke Media is an award-winning digital marketing consultancy and full-service agency founded on the idea that every modern business needs a CMO-level expert to lead digital marketing efforts. Our comprehensive à la carte menu of services and month-to-month contracts mean you get only what you need, when you need it. Our Gen Z-focused offering includes HawkeZ teaming up with some of the biggest influencers of the generation to deliver results. Get a free consultation.

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