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Marketing to Gen Z without the cringe

A special post acknowledging the election of Maxwell Frost the first Gen Z member of Congress.

We are entering an era that sees a considerable shift of purchasing power from millennials to Generation Z. Millennial spending sits at just over $65 billion – while Generation Z is at almost $100 billion. The Bank of America estimates that Gen Z’s combined income will reach $33 trillion by 2030. If you are going to develop a successful business, millennials are not the only generation you need to keep in mind.

Connecting with younger generations has always been a challenge for businesses. Connecting with Gen Z, roughly those born in the mid to late 1990s through the early 2010s, is a challenge of a different magnitude. Gen Z is in control of their own media in a way that may be unfamiliar to older generations. They skip over advertisements that do not grab their attention, unlike the days when you could not avoid advertisements on the TV or radio. You could make yourself a cup of tea or grab a beer, but that advert continued to play in the background.

Gen Z, sometimes called digital natives because of their knowledge of social media, create their content on platforms such as Instagram and Tik Tok. TikTok is rapidly becoming the leading social media platform.  According to TikTok was the most downloaded app in the first quarter of 2022, with 175 million downloads. The platform had 3.5 billion views in the same quarter.  

Instagram and Facebook were ranked number 2 and 3, respectively, for downloads.

Changes in attitude to employment creates opportunity for coaches and consultants.

For older generations, employment was seen as the ideal route to stability. “Join a good company and stay with them for life” was the advice many baby boomers heard from their parents. But over the years, companies broke this unwritten contract by sacking employees as and when needed. Euphemistically called downsizing. Employment for life was replaced with the concept that job hopping was the path to success. Companies bemoaned a lack of loyalty in their employees as people took more control of their careers.  Today millennials and Gen Z may not look to employment as their life path. Entrepreneurship, encouraged by media coverage of those who have achieved great wealth by starting their own business, is often the number one choice for these younger folks.

This means a demographic with tremendous spending power is more likely than earlier generations to need the services of coaches and consultants to help them achieve their entrepreneurial ambitions. A demographic you should pay attention to. A demographic that is more difficult to reach using traditional marketing methods.

Marketing to Gen Z without the cringe factor.

How do you avoid the cringe factor when capturing Gen Z’s attention? The cringe factor has been in existence for thousands of years. The younger generation tends to roll their eyes when the older generation tries to speak their language.  

Gen Z is particularly sensitive to when it is being pandered to; authenticity and relevance are the keys to avoiding the cringe.

During Season 8, the concept that success follows a genuine desire to provide information of value to your targeted customers before trying to sell them a product or service was discussed extensively. These ideas are well articulated in Dorie Clark’s book Entrepreneurial You and Sahil Lavingia’s The Minimalist Entrepreneur. This advice is particularly well suited when applied to millennials and Gen Z. For a link to these books, Ctrl+Click here

You may be already creating this type of content that only needs minor changes to make this resonate with Gen Z. To improve your chances of success, you should reach out to members of Gen Z to learn more about their attitudes, desires, and expectations. This could be your children or grandchildren. You may have employees in this age group you can consult. For this topic, age does not necessarily know best; pay attention to input from junior employees.  To do this successfully, you need to create an atmosphere where less senior employees feel free to disagree with older employees. This can be challenging in a culture where age is highly respected, as in, say, Japan or Korea; in these types of societies, extra effort will be needed.

Go social, and post your content where Gen Z hangs out. Millennials and Gen Z are highly engaged on social media platforms, a digital marketing component many of us lack. Make sure that social media (Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, and Twitter) is part of your digital marketing strategy. Your content should be relevant and topical. Ensure it’s something younger generations engage with, and tie it into your overall marketing story. In addition to reaching out to younger folks, as we just discussed, find a few hours to watch content on these platforms that target your younger potential customers.

Implementing your marketing strategy can be very time-consuming as consistency in posting content is the key to developing a following. The strategy of reusing material on multiple platforms makes sense. Consider hiring a social media asset to make the postings for you. They can be found on freelance platforms such as Fiverr. Note that it may take you a few tries to find someone reliable, but freeing up your time to produce better quality material is likely a solid investment.

Gen Z takes notice of what their favorite influencers tell them. Unlike past generations, major celebrities carry less weight with Gen Z. They are more likely to follow micro or nano influencers than macro influencers. This is good news, as smaller targeted influencers are less expensive than macro influencers. These smaller influencers are often highly professional business people who know their audience well and produce content that attracts their audience. As they are experts, if you partner with an influencer, let them guide you on the content to use.

If you are a baby boomer or Gen X. You maybe thinking that connecting with Gen Z is too challenging. Keep in mind that the fundamentals of business have not changed. An entrepreneur needs to develop a product, ensure potential customers know it exists, and make it easy for them to buy it. You know how to do this already; it’s just a case of packaging your knowledge in a way that connects with the younger generation.

In summary

Gen Z’s purchasing power makes them a demographic you should not ignore.

Even more than earlier generations, they recognized when they are being marketed to. Provide valuable material before you try to sell anything to them.

Avoid the cringe by consulting with people who belong to this generation. This will help you connect with them in a way that is meaningful to them.

Look for micro or nano influencers you can work with to promote your brand. Let them guide you through the process.

Meet them where they are on social media. Consistency is key when posting on social media so either limit the number of platforms you use or consider hiring someone to post for you.

Most of Generation Z is still fairly young , but this demographic will begin to dominate in the next decade. So, no matter what your product or sector, the needs of Generation Z should already be on your radar screen.

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