Who is Gen Z?

Gen Z, the generation born between 1997 and 2012, are reshaping the world in their image. Essentially born with a smartphone in their hands, this generation lives and breathes in terms of brand, and you can see this by how effortlessly they present their personal brand online through various social media platforms. They expect brands to appeal to their personalities, values, and interests, and they view the brands they support as an extension of who they are. And with the rate the Gen Z buying power is growing—your brand needs to win their loyalty, now. 

A few things your brand needs to know about Gen Z: 

  • Gen Z is the most diverse generation to date—across the board, this generation expects to see every kind of diversity represented, because they want to see themselves accurately represented
  • Gen Z is motivated by causes—this generation buys as an extension of their beliefs and values
  • Gen Z craves interaction and experiences—they want to be seen “in the wild”
  • To Gen Z, authenticity matters a lot—they live and breathe brand, and can spot inauthentic marketing at lightning speed

At Refuel Agency, we believe research is critical to success. That’s why we invest in proprietary teenage market research studies to ensure that we thoroughly understand our target consumers. Our Gen Z Explorer Series™ takes a deep dive into the media habits, lifestyle, and beliefs of the coveted Gen Z consumer, and is a crucial resource for marketers looking to reach this audience.

Learn more about what makes Gen Z tick in our comprehensive guide: The Ultimate Guide to Marketing to Gen Z

1. Don’t neglect in-store shopping

Considering that members of the Gen Z generation are the first true digital natives, it may come as a surprise to brands that they’re actually big in-store shoppers. Our research has found that 2 in 3 teens still shop at brick and mortar stores—so if you’re a brand with a physical presence, don’t neglect your in-store experience. Because Gen Z prefer experiences and wants to be seen “in-the-wild”. Your brand can cater to this desire by creating a share-worthy in-store experience that will both draw Gen Z in and prompt them to share on social media and with their friends. 

Read next: Offline Spending With Digital Natives

2. Appeal to their values

According to Refuels Gen Z Explorer Series™, 48% of Gen Z are progressive on racial issues, 47% are progressive on gender issues, and 45% are progressive on environmental issues. Gen Z is highly socially conscious with a “big picture” mentality, and research shows that they value brands who support the causes they want to support. Just like Gen Z views their digital lives as an extensive of their physical lives, they view the brands they support as an extension of their values and beliefs.

Gen Zers view their consumption choices as a way to support the causes they believe in, so don’t be shy about your brand’s beliefs and values. From championing diversity to raising awareness for a cause to implementing sustainable practices—invest in cause marketing and be transparent about the good you’re doing and Gen Z will take notice. 

Especially during the holiday season, causes should be at the forefront when you’re advertising to Gen Z. There’s a prevalent spirit of giving back and giving gifts that matter—and this is more true for Gen Z than any other generation. 

3. Prioritize personalization + connection

We’ve found that Gen Z crave interaction and experiences when they follow brands. Research suggests that part of what makes social media so compelling to Gen Z is the combination of creativity and interactivity. Sprout Social explains that “You can almost think of Gen Z and social media as a game of call and response”. Think Twitter polls, interactive Snapchat filters, Instagram stickers, style quizzes on your website, or giveaways. 

Gen Z wants to collaborate and connect with brands—they want brands to cultivate experiences with them and enhance their personalities. Fourteen-year-old entrepreneur Mercer Henderson explains that her friends don’t use Snapchat filters that look and feel like branded campaigns. After all, what are they getting out of using a filter with a company’s logo on in? Instead, Henderson recommends creating filters that interact with users’ personalities, like the all-time favorite puppy filter. 

This holiday season, prioritize advertising content that allows Gen Z to interact, personalize, share, and relate to your brand. Gen Z are masters of virality—and tapping into that prowess will be key for your brand awareness and Gen Z sales. 

Read next: 6 Examples of Brands That Got Gen Z Marketing Right

4. Spark conversations with out-of-home media

Teens spend a huge proportion of their time in school environments, surrounded by their peers and teachers. Both high school and college campuses are naturally social environments, where teens interact with new ideas and people on a regular basis. Because of this, our research has shown that in-school and on-campus media sparks conversations among students. We also know from our research that students are highly influenced by their peers. 

Your brand has the opportunity to enter this naturally-occurring and highly impactful feedback loop by sparking conversations about your brand. Let your audience do the heavy lifting for you—your Gen Z audience will share their ideas and opinions, and your brand will see the results. 

Marketing to Gen Z isn’t just important—winning over your Gen Z customers is crucial for your business’ long-term success. Luckily, understanding and influencing this customer base isn’t hard—it just takes the right marketing strategy. Contact us today to get your target Gen Z marketing plan.