Gen Z. The name alone exudes mystery – and anyone ever tasked with reaching this consumer audience may have faced the challenge of crafting campaigns that rise to the standard of effortless “cool” that Gen Z has invented. As we move into 2023 and celebrate the youngest members of Gen Z’s 13th birthdays and the oldests’ 26th, it’s time to start looking at the Gen Z marketing trends your brand needs to know.

The latest marketing trends come and go as technology evolves – making it hard to truly keep up. But luckily, we’ve done the hard work for you. As youth marketing experts for the past 30 years, we invest in proprietary research to uncover the way that members of Gen Z tick, think, and move through the world… so that we can create Gen Z marketing strategies that hit the mark.

So what are the upcoming marketing trends for the gen Z target audience? It’s time to find out!

Read next: The Ultimate Guide to Marketing to Gen Z

Who is Gen Z?

Gen Z is the generation of people born between roughly 1996 and 2012. As the first true generation of digital natives, Gen Z is coming of age and reshaping the world in their image. According to Refuel Agency’s Gen Z Explorer Series™, this generation encompasses 21% of the US and each year their buying power grows. Total teen income is $95.7B, but if you consider the fact that teens are often still financed by their parents as well as influencing family purchasing decisions, that spending power shoots up to a whopping $265.6B. And don’t forget – this consumer audience hasn’t even fully started working.  

But very soon, the youngest members of this consumer segment will join the workforce, start earning salaries, and live out the consumer preferences they developed in their teens. Learning how to communicate with and influence Gen Z now at an impressionable age before teens are earning salaries is an investment that will pay off once these teens grow into the youngest members of our workforce and their spending power grows with them.

1. The pandemic was a worldview altering event for Gen Z

Each generation has a major event during their formative years that shapes them and their perspective. For millennials, it was witnessing the tragedy 9/11, as well as the technology that adapted to them as they grew up. Gen Xers were latchkey kids during the dot-com bubble. And at the current moment, for Gen Z, that event was the pandemic and the ensuing “Great Resignation”. 

Gen Z’s formative years were disrupted by a massive shift in both school and workplace culture. Systems that had previously been slow to adopt remote solutions shifted overnight to grant complete flexibility. Before Gen Z’s careers even started, they’ve watched opportunities explode for alternative employment and work flexibility be granted in a way that’s never been seen before.

Gen Z have always been defined by their originality and individuality – and this shift undoubtedly has influenced the choices they make for their lives and the way they move through the world. This is key for brands to understand – influencing Gen Z consumers has everything to do with supporting this desire for individuality and flexibility to live life on their own terms. 

Read next: How to Advertise to Parents (to Reach Teens)

2. Gen Z cares about causes – and leads by example

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 extension of their physical lives, they view the brands they support as an extension of their values and beliefs.

And teens are leading by example when it comes to their values. According to Business Wire

  • 60% of teens Recycled regularly
  • 42% of teens Educated family and/or friends about a cause
  • 33% of teens Volunteered their time to a cause
  • 22% of teens Donated money to a cause

In 2023, your brand needs to be socially conscious like never before. 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. Close the gap between your words and your actions, and build trust with this key consumer. 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. The longevity of your brand depends on it. 

Read next: 5 Things Marketers Should Know About Teen Cause Marketing Campaigns

3. Gen Z expects advertising that is as diverse as they are 

Diversity in marketing has come a long way – but there are still miles to go. Gen Z is more diverse than any other generation before them, with the majority of teens identifying as non-white (52% according to Refuel’s Gen Z Explorer Series™), and Gen Zers support brands that showcase and celebrate the diversity they see in their own generation. 

Companies like ThirdLove, Nike, and Bumble are leading the “inclusive revolution “ with innovative marketing efforts representing individuals across the range of race, body type, age, sexual orientation, and more. And in 2023, there’s simply no time to waste when it comes to ensuring that your brand identity itself is inclusive of the audience it’s hoping to communicate with. 

Read next: What Is Diversity Marketing?

Learn more about marketing to Gen Z

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, and us, to help you keep up with teen marketing trends. Contact us today to get your target Gen Z marketing plan.