How to Market to Gen Zers

Three Generation Z girls laughing.

Hey there. It’s the Gen-Zers of 8THIRTYFOUR here 👋  (don’t be too disappointed). In the past few months, we’ve seen quite a bit of speculation around how to market to our generation. We’re here to set the record straight and tell you what does and doesn’t work. A lot of you are doing a really bad job.

Hi. I’m Gen-Z. Nice to meet me.

First thing’s first. A Gen Zer is anyone who was born in the mid to late 1990s through 2010. So if you are in that category but thought you were a Millennial, we hate to break it to you, but you’re not. Welcome to the better generation, Gen Zers.
For one, not all of Gen Z is clueless about the world. So before you ask, YES, we know how to use rotary phones, Etch-A-Sketches, and the majority of us can use a paper map to get from Point A to Point B (yeah Kim here, I say we put this to the test and film it, cause I call B.S.). We would still rather use Google Maps, but that’s not the point.
Though some of our generation got to experience 90s dialup, most of Generation Z has never known a world without high speed internet, tablets, and iPhones. Thanks to the digital boom, we are all highly trained internet FBI agents (it’s why we are so good at social media stalking). You can count on us to fact check absolutely everything, because Google has always been at the tips of our fingers. To put it simply, “I’ll just Google it,” is the Gen Z love language.
If you haven’t noticed, we are also an extremely open-minded generation. We are all about social justice, environmental protection, and equal opportunity under the law. Oh, and we believe anyone who doesn’t stand for those same principles is kinda a waste of space (this is saying it nicely, Kim wouldn’t be so kind).

What does this mean for marketing?

When you’re directly targeting those of us in Generation Z, there are a couple of things to note. For one, the copy has to be inclusive. If you’re a stuffy brand that sounds close minded, accusatory, or judgmental, it’ll be super hard to come back from that. Our generation pays attention to the wording, the imagery, and the tone. We might be young, but an out-of-date brand isn’t going to go over well with Gen Zers or anyone.
This also means you need to be factual. Remember that Google thing? Yeah, we fact check everything and aren’t afraid to call a brand out for being full of bullsh*t. We aren’t crazy, but we do our due diligence. Don’t be surprised if we know the names of your employees, the cities they grew up in, and their favorite hobbies. You can run, but you can’t hide.

What’s a brand gotta do?

BE CLEVER. Gen Z appreciates good banter. If you can find a tactful way to poke fun at trends or things we’re interested in, we’ll think your brand is hilarious and your marketing will be successful. Our advice is to stay relevant.

BE REAL. If you mess up, admit it. We’ve seen a lot of misinformation in our day. Trying to fake anything with us is a waste of time. We’re pro internet sleuths, remember? A brand that can own up to its mistakes, apologize, and make it right is a brand we will trust and root for. If you lie to us, we’re dunzo.

BE ADVOCATES. Seriously. Gen Zers are suckers for a good cause. If buying your expensive shirts means a tree gets planted, you can bet we’re paying the extra $5 for your product. Aligning your brand with a cause and being public about it are major keys for the Gen Z crowd.

It’s Lit, Fam

If you think you’ve cracked the code to Gen Zers because you finally understand what words like “lit,” “fam,” or “bruh” mean…just stop. Unless you are extremely talented, most brands that use these words come across as cringey and like they’re trying way too hard. If you’re clearly busting your butt to keep up with our trends, talk like us, and show off constantly…we’re going to be turned off.
Are you struggling? Contact us. We have a few Gen Zers on staff who would be glad to show you the ropes. Besides, we’re a full-service integrated communications firm that does kickass stuff constantly. It’s a win-win, regardless of what you contact us for.

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