From Y to Z: How to Pivot Your Marketing Strategy for Gen Z

By Melissa Duko, October 05, 2017

Step aside, Millennials. Like an over-the-hill Real Housewife, you’re being cast aside for a shiny new trophy wife. Marketers have their eyes on the next generation: Generation Z.

Gen Z is now of age to enter the market as consumers. With a buying power of $44 billion, marketers are salivating at Gen Z’s spending potential. However, as marketers are learning, you can’t court Gen Z the same way as Millennials. Gen Z is more discriminating than Gen Y, requiring you to pivot your marketing strategy.

Here’s what you need to know about this up-and-coming group of consumers, how to capture their attention, and win them over.

Who Are Gen Z

Gen Z is the first generation to officially have grown up in a digital world. They know not the horrors of dial up internet. VHS tapes are a foreign concept. And if you say “Walkman,” they may assume you’re asking them to “Let’s go for a walk, man.”


Source: Someecards

Since they’re the most technologically connected generation, antiquated antidotes such as “When I was a kid, I walked five miles to the library” don’t work.

Their age range varies, but the general consensus is Gen Z was born between 1996 and 2010. They were born into the online era and skipped the whole Oregon Trail phenomenon, successfully avoiding digital dysentery.

How to Earn Their Trust

Their online exposure has affected who they trust. Back in the day you could throw any one of The WB stars like Sarah Michelle Gellar, Shannen Doherty, or James Van Der Beek into a commercial to peddle swag to Millennials, and they’d eat it up.

Related Post: Understanding Millennials: How to Make Them Love Your Brand

I bought Maybelline Express 3in1 Foundation solely because I trusted Sarah Michelle Gellar’s flawless complexion. But now, Gen Z doesn’t care about mainstream celebrities. They trust social stars (e.g. YouTube, Facebook, and Snapchat) more, not Dawson.


Source: Giphy

63% of Gen Z wants marketing from real people. And they want their brands to be authentic. So, consider tapping social influencers (e.g. Coco and Breezy) to build brand trust. Since Gen Z is more likely to trust their peers, consider having them be brand advocates, too.

Related Post: 4 Easy Ways to Find Instagram Influencers

They also value their privacy. Technology that tracks them (e.g. Roomba mapping your home) makes them skittish. And they’re less likely to share on social. Instead, you’ll find them opting for platforms like Snapchat, which offer a non permanent record of interaction unlike Facebook.  

How to Capture Their Attention

Squirrel! With each generation, attention spans continue to decrease. Marketers have an even narrower window to capture Gen Z’s attention. Here are a couple of tips that’ll make them pause and consider your brand.

Optimize for Mobile. Gen Z uses smartphones in-store more than the average shopper. In fact, ages 16-21 use their devices to take pics of products for future reference and to price compare. And with their need for instant gratification, they’ll immediately order (or purchase in-person) the best deal.  

Related Post: Why Social Media Is the New Way to Shop on Mobile

But unless your site or app is optimized for mobile, all of this is moot. Make sure your download times are quick, and your layout is user friendly.

Appeal to Their Frugal Side. Gen Z is frugal. They saw how the 2008 recession affected their parents and perhaps older siblings. And now they’re entering a workforce with stagnant wages, underemployment, and crushing student loan debt. So, it’s no surprise they’re tight with their wallets. And when they do spend, they want to stretch their dollar.


Source: Giphy

Recent startup Brandless is one example of a company catering to budget-conscious Gen-Zers. The company offers organic, non-GMO, and fair trade products priced at $3 each. Their flat price is enticing plus appeals to Gen-Zers looking for naturally sourced products.  

If flat pricing isn’t an option for your brand, consider other incentives like free shipping, flexible return policies, membership discounts, etc.

How to Keep Them Coming Back

To truly win Gen Z over and keep them coming back for more, offer a personalized experience. Cookie cutter products and services are a dime a dozen to Gen Z. If they have to spend money, they want the shopping experience to be customized for them.

Take a cue from Amazon who is turning retail on its head by offering everything from groceries to electronics to fashion with a personalized twist. Their latest offering Amazon Prime Wardrobe takes shopping for clothes to the next level. Consumers get to pick items, try them on, keep what they want, and ship back what they don’t. Plus there are discounts for the number of items you keep. Win-win.

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Source: Giphy

It isn’t hard to win Gen-Zers over. It just takes pivoting your marketing strategy to fulfill their needs. Follow these tips and you’ll be in good shape, that is until the next Generation rises and you have to do it all over again.

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Melissa Duko

Melissa Duko

Melissa Duko is the Senior Editor and Digital Specialist for eZanga and its ad fraud management platform, Anura. She brings to her role more than a decade of journalism and editing experience. A graduate of the University of Delaware, she holds a Bachelor of Arts in English, concentration business and technical writing, minor Art History. She also has a Master of Science in professional writing for the public and private sector from Towson University. She isn’t afraid to admit that her love for Starbucks is at gold member status. (Since 2011!) More Articles by Melissa Duko