Generation Z is keeping every marketing team on their toes; tracking to be the largest consumer-driven generation of our time. Gartner defines Gen Z as the group born between 1996 to present, who currently make up 94.7 million of the world’s population. As more Gen Zers reach adulthood, their current buying power of 221.7 billion, will continue to rise dramatically. From what we have seen, this generation is poised to reconfigure marketing as we know it, in fact, they already have.
Gen Z has grown up with the infrastructure of social media platforms already in place. As a result, Gen Z spends on average, three hours of their day on social media, using each platform for a hyper-specific purpose. Due to this popularity, e-commerce has begun to enter into the world of social media. In the past two years, e-commerce from social referrals has grown 110%, and will continue to increase along with Gen Z’s disposable income. This changing marketplace will become a lucrative way to increase your return on ad spend. However, adopting e-commerce into a marketing strategy won’t necessarily drive results. There are additional steps needed to accurately gain Gen Z brand loyalty, while remaining an authentic brand.
In a survey of 100 digital advertising leaders, 62% said that they consider Gen Z a significant priority when making marketing decisions, even when considering the higher rate of disposable income of Boomers. Executives are aware that brand loyalty is established in the late teens to the early 20s, thus establishing higher longevity of steadfast customers. Gen Z grew up consumed by this online culture, becoming the first generation to truly be digital natives. Even the oldest Gen Zers were born right at the beginning of recognizable social media sites. As Gen Z continues to become a larger part of the economy, marketing strategies will need that digital foundation to continue to thrive among the tidal wave of socially active users.
Gen Z’s influence on social media has continually proven the reliability of this channel as a way to directly market and message to this specific target audience while effectively utilizing the space for online commerce. This past year, two large social movements: March For Our Lives and the School Strike for Climate were created, planned, and led by Gen Zer’s. Yet, Gen Z’s influence extends further than the organization of social movements. This younger generation drives consumer markets and determines if a brand can withstand the test of Twitter and Reddit.
One of Gen Z’s main values is trust. Brands need to earn that trust and maintain it through transparency. The brand Billie, a direct to consumer razor brand, has not only created authentic messaging but also stands for a social problem which can clearly be seen on their main social platform. By creating a sassy and honest voice on their Instagram feed, Billie has a focus on bringing awareness to women’s body hair; which, surprisingly, has never been done by other razor brands. This positioning on Instagram has added to the company's rapid growth in popularity and sales. But lose that Gen Z trust and it can be impossible to get back. Let us not forget the Pepsi ad with Kendall Jenner. Although, it can be beneficial to align with a social cause, it can also be detrimental when done in the absolute wrong way. The only difference with successful and unsuccessful cause marketing is authenticity.
There is an urgency for brands to connect with Gen Z as they come into their buying power. If you want to successfully market to this digital generation, it is essential that your brand first understands the behaviors of Gen Z. Maintaining authentic messaging can increase Gen Z trust in your brand and the use of that messaging on advantageous platforms can create brand loyalty. If you dare to take the next step into social issues, be sure your brand’s stance is based on research, authenticity and how relatable it is to your brand. Jumping on the train of e-commerce within social platforms can help grow your business exponentially, but know you have to put in the work to get there.