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Marketing to Gen Z: 7 Ways Your Agency Can Reach Gen Z and Win Them Over

As group dances and lip-syncing dominate our social media feeds, TikTok and Snapchat remain superior for Gen Z marketing opportunities – while Millenials and Baby Boomers are still wasting time on Facebook and LinkedIn – Gen Z is living in a high-sensory, instant gratification world. A world in which agencies need to stay relevant and informed to compete. 

This churn of innovation and newness isn’t slowing down either. It’ll likely speed up as Gen Z becomes a predominant demographic for many agency clients. Towards the end of 2021, Gen Z had a collective buying power of nearly $150 billion – the trick though is getting them to buy. As a demographic with high expectations for brands and businesses, marketing to Gen Z isn’t as easy as running an email or PPC campaign. 

It’s time for agencies to innovate. Here are seven things to keep in mind when marketing to Gen Z:

1. Slow and steady doesn’t win anymore. 

8 seconds. That’s the average amount of time Gen Z takes before deciding to move on from a piece of unengaging content. 8 seconds is the window marketers have to grab–and keep–their attention. 

Agencies don’t have time for slow and steady. As a generation who grew up in the digital age, Gen Z is prone to high-sensory visuals when it comes to their preferred content. They make quick, pragmatic decisions. They’ve become adults amid Tinder and TikTok, and these instant-gratification apps drive Gen Z’s decision-making

Pack content with big punches–(hint: it’s often interactive video). Your hooks need to really hook. Talking heads in front of a screen aren’t enough. Videos need to have exciting visuals in addition to the talking head. Bright subtitles, relevant graphics, and relatable GIFs all can add to a captivating first 8 seconds. 

2. Be real, honest, and authentic.

Back in the day of real-world Don Drapers, marketing agencies were selling fantasies. They were selling the mom who could do-it-all, who always looked her best. They were selling the hard-working dad behind the white-picket-fence, who managed to play with his kids and earn enough. It was a mirage, and back then, their target demographics obliged and bought.

Fast forward a few decades and our younger generations don’t want to be sold anything. Freedom and autonomy are at the center of Gen Z’s decision-making. Often, people feel when they’re being sold something. Just tune in to daytime TV and there you’ll see retired quarterbacks selling Life Alerts to Baby Boomers. They know they’re being sold something, they’re OK with that. They need it and they buy it.

3. Influential Authenticity 

Gen Z is different than older generations. Commercials are now a form of social justice, an opportunity for companies to profess their authenticity and transparency. Just take a look at Nike’s controversial Colin Kaepernick commercial to understand how brands use advertising as a covert way to win over Gen Z. 

What was once known as a celebrity endorsement has turned into a movement where anyone–not just celebrities–can influence purchasing power. Influencer marketing has also dominated the Gen Z marketing space. Nearly 2 out of 3 Gen Zers follow an influencer and half of them trust their recommendations over big-name brands.

marketing to gen z


4. Psychographics and Buying for Good

Paying attention to Gen Z’s demographics may not give much in the way of crafting an authentic connection with them. Demographics are common identifiable factors like gender, income, and zip code. But Gen Z leads the way in inclusive, non-binary conversations. Making their demographics less indicative of their purchasing decisions. 

Instead, focusing on psychographics can be more insightful. Psychographics are less quantifiable features like one’s ability to be interested in saving money, or their relationship to money, or whether they care about climate change. 

Gen Z are what McKinsey calls digital natives, a generation that unlike Millennials, don’t remember a time when they didn’t have internet. This contributes to their collective behavior, which is often radically inclusive, open to dialogue, less confrontational, and more realistic views of the world. 

Gen Z and Millennials tend to use their buying power for good. As Millenials became adults when the one-for-one model was invented, Gen Z has higher expectations for “giving back.” Gen Z’s purchases also reflect the personal brand they’ve built on social media, which leads them to make more pragmatic purchases. They have access to a world of research when completing a purchase.

Gen Z demands businesses use their power for good. Giving back sometimes isn’t as important as giving up something. Giving up $1 million in profits in order to source sustainable products is more attractive to Gen Z than donating $10 million to conservation efforts if a company is unethically sourcing products. 

Winning the approval of Gen Z isn’t going to happen with marketing messaging alone. Because of this demand in the market, companies have implemented corporate social responsibility or CSR efforts across their operations and production. Gen Z is holding companies accountable, giving marketing agencies the opportunity to highlight the CSR efforts of their clients and gain Gen Z’s social approval. 

Leading with values isn’t just a buzzword for Gen Z, they want to see the proof in the pudding. They want to know that their dollars are going to companies who aren’t harming the planet or the people on it. 

5. Diversify and repurpose content. 

Yes, repurposing content is more efficient, helps streamline brand communications, and can connect your clients with more customers. But you can’t hit all the birds with one stone. 

Repurposing content is sometimes a simple copy-and-paste from one platform to the next. A Reel on Instagram can easily become a TikTok video, and vice-versa. The key is to define and map a system in which repurposing content becomes a part of your offer to clients. 

What works on Facebook probably won’t work on Instagram, and what works on TikTok is likely not going to work on LinkedIn – even if those marketing efficiency apps want us to believe that. Not to mention, the algorithms tend to favor original in-app-edited content on TikTok and Reels. 

It’s predicted that over the next four years Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok will remain the most popular social media apps for Gen Z users. Snapchat was the most popular app for Gen Z in 2020, with TikTok in a close second:

  • Snapchat: 42.0 million Gen Z users 

  • TikTok: million Gen Z users

  • Instagram: 33.3 million Gen Z users

In order to reach Gen Z, your clients will have to start–or continue to–create content on one or all of these apps. 

6. The more interactive the better.

Snapchat, TikTok, and Instagram are more interactive than their counterparts Facebook and LinkedIn. There are more opportunities for users to engage directly with the piece of content–outside of reacting or commenting. Think of this as a heart eyes swipe meter or a quick poll on an IG story. 

Gen Z users want to engage with content. They want to be involved. It goes back to the need for autonomy in their decision-making. When they interact with a piece of content, they are a part of it. They have a small piece in how it unfolds. 

Agencies can adapt to this in innovative ways beyond just the tools the social apps already give us. They’re open and ready for a combination of sensory content like climbing on milk crates or giving a whole new meaning to a quote from a favorite childhood film. 

Interactive content is great for top-of-the-funnel research as well. You can easily see which posts have the most engagement and are trending to have a better-informed content strategy with fresh ideas to try out.

7. Harness the power of data with live social media dashboards 

Big data is the direction forward, and companies have a big advantage when folks willingly give them data on their activity. With so many marketing metrics to make sense of for each client account day-to-day, agencies need a way to consolidate it in real-time to make better-informed decisions.

Using AgencyAnalytics’ live social media dashboard allows agencies to communicate data and outcomes to clients, ensuring that you’re reaching the right audiences like Gen Z with your marketing strategies. 

social media dashboard

By integrating all your marketing apps into one place, get a high-level view of all your client’s marketing metrics, while simultaneously offering a deeper dive into each data point. Allowing you to analyze, strategize, and execute effective marketing strategies to reach Gen Z and win them over. 

Read more: How to Build a Social Media Dashboard for Clients

Agencies will lead the way

Marketing agencies are leaders in the digital landscape. Understanding Gen Z and their purchasing decisions allow agencies to help their clients better understand the market and where they can grow and thrive in their businesses right now, and in the near future.  As thought-leaders and avid data interpreters, agencies drive new ideas and reach greater audiences –Gen Z and beyond. Get started with our social media analytics tool and add over 60+ integrations including Google Analytics, Instagram, TikTok, and more!

Written by

Mindy Morgan Avitia

Mindy is a writer and content marketer specializing in complex, social impact B2B companies. She works with people and their brands to develop content strategies that drive revenue, strengthen brand positioning, and build lasting relationships. When not writing she's usually playing with her toddler or drinking iced coffee—or both.

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