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Marketing to the “Authentic Generation”: Gen Z

Marketing to Generation Z (Gen Z) versus Millennials requires understanding their unique characteristics, preferences, and behaviors. While there may be some overlap between the two generations, there are several key differences to consider. Gen Z, born roughly between the mid-1990s and early 2010s, is regarded as the first truly digital-native generation. They grew up with smartphones, social media, and instant access to information. Millennials, born between the early 1980s and mid-1990s, are often called digital adaptives because they witnessed the rise of the internet and adapted to it during their formative years. 

Much is discussed about marketing to millennials, but what about the up-and-comers? Let’s talk about how to market to the generation that is socially conscious, values personalization, and puts a heavy weight on having transparent interactions: 

  • Authenticity is Key: Gen Z can easily spot inauthenticity and prefers authentic, transparent brand interactions that provide genuine connections. Unlike their predecessors, they tend to be skeptical of traditional advertising and are more likely to trust user-generated content, influencers, and peer reviews over polished marketing messages. Authenticity in messaging, branding, and interactions is crucial for building trust and loyalty with this audience.
  • Digital Native Audience: Gen Z has grown up with technology, making them highly proficient in navigating digital platforms. Marketers should leverage social media, mobile apps, and other digital channels to effectively reach and engage with them. Because they rely so heavily on mobile devices for accessing content, social media, and making purchases, marketers should prioritize mobile optimization across all touchpoints to provide seamless experiences.
  • Visual and Interactive Content: Gen Z prefers visual and interactive content formats such as videos, memes, GIFs, and interactive ads over traditional text-based content. Incorporating these elements into marketing campaigns can increase engagement and provide a higher ROI.
  • Socially Conscious and Diverse Messaging: Gen Z is socially conscious and values brands that take a stand on important issues such as sustainability, diversity, and inclusion. Brands should align their messaging and actions with causes that resonate with their target audience. For example, an outdoor apparel company should focus on issues surrounding climate, litter, and sustainability.
  • Short Attention Spans: With a plethora of content competing for their attention, Gen Z has a shorter attention span. Marketers need to deliver concise and captivating content that grabs their attention quickly.
  • Personalization and Customization: If you read through posts on our Kirkwood Direct blog, you know that many generations, especially Gen Z, expects personalized experiences from brands. Marketers can leverage data and technology to deliver tailored content, product recommendations, and offers based on individual preferences and behavior.
  • User-Generated Content: Encouraging user-generated content (UGC) and leveraging influencer marketing can be highly effective in reaching Gen Z. They trust recommendations from peers and influencers more than traditional advertising. Videos posted to social media channels Instagram and TikTok get the highest engagement, and should be authentic and unscripted.
  • Embrace Ephemeral Content: Platforms like Snapchat and Instagram Stories, which feature ephemeral content, are popular among Gen Z. Marketers should embrace these formats for real-time engagement and storytelling.
  • Feedback and Co-Creation: Gen Z values brands that listen to their feedback and involve them in the co-creation process. Marketers should solicit input from Gen Z consumers and involve them in product development and marketing decisions.

By understanding and adapting to the unique characteristics and preferences of the Gen Z audience, marketers can effectively engage this demographic and build lasting relationships with them that translate into a strong ROI. 


Ready to do something fun and creative to attract the GenZ audience? Kirkwood Direct’s team of marketing and design experts is here to consult with you on everything from A to GenZ. Give us a call today or fill out our online contact form.

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