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Gen Z
Gen Z

Shueh Yee Tai

8 tips for marketing to Gen Zs

“Ok, boomer”. When you hear this phrase, it just screams “generational gap!”. Alas, we’re welcoming a new group of consumers to the playing field: The Gen Zs. They already account for 40% of global consumers and have a spending power of over $360 billion globally.  

With their own quirks and peculiarities, this “TikTok generation can’t be more different from their Millennial, Gen X and Baby Boomer predecessors. And marketers are scrambling to decode their behaviour and decipher their lingo in a bid to get them on their side.

woman holding her hair

So who exactly are Gen Zs? They’re broadly defined to be those born between 1996 and 2012. Nicknames are plentiful, incl. iGeneration, Zoomers, Net Gen, etc. You can also tell a Gen Z from certain characteristics, like that they

  • Are the most racially diverse and educated generation to date
  • Are digital natives who’ve never known a world without the Internet, and they spend most of their time glued to their mobile
  • Have grown up with ads and commercials…ad fatigue is real  
  • Are brand-conscious and prefer sustainable, socially ethical brands 
  • Have beliefs, values, opinions and are not afraid to express them 

So, how do you appeal to Gen Zs? Here are 8 quick tips to add to your marketing strategy. I know because I’m one.

1. Show that you get us

73% of Gen Zs believe they need self-expression to live a happy, healthy life. For us, self-expression extends beyond the physical realm: It’s not just about wearing what I want to wear or playing music that I like. As digital natives, we want to share our experiences online with friends. Personalisation with products and services is then esp. important when marketing to our generation. It feeds the need for individualism and expression of our personal values and preferences. Don’t just slap some generic ad for your generic product on our feeds, put in some effort. 

Spotify's Wrapped 2021 arrives with artist video messages, Blend and even a  game | TechCrunch

That’s why Spotify’s annual Wrapped campaigns are the bomb. Boasting over 60 million shares across socials in its 2020 edition, these campaigns provide personalised insights on each user’s listening habits and allows them to share a summary of this on various social platforms. It’s a win-win situation here. Spotify gets huge publicity and engagement, and I get to share my music tastes with my friends and also see what they’ve been listening to. 

2. Influencers are the new celebrities

woman in green long sleeved shirt holding iphone 6

Influencer culture is on the rise. They say Gen Z is almost 2x as likely as millennials to make purchase decisions under the recommendation of influencers. 

Like sure, I see Emma Chamberlain endorsing Levi’s and BTS appearing in GoJek commercials. But, I’m much more likely to gloss over these fancy ads in favour of local, micro influencers. These are the individuals who are more likely to give honest opinions and genuinely care about the products they’re endorsing. It could just be in a simple Instastory or TikTok live. After all, it’s about the authenticity and trust when working with influencers. 

3. Hit us up with snackable content

The attention span of the average Gen Z is 8 secs. That’s a whole 4 secs shorter than the average millennial’s attention span of 12 secs. Can you really blame us, though? We grew up in a highly stimulated environment, with iPads and social media apps as companions. 

Thus, began the advent of short-form content to appeal to our (unfortunate) limited ability to focus. Think Snapchat stories, TikTok videos, Insta Reels, YouTube Shorts, memes and even GIFs. We’re so used to jumping from a video of someone’s cover of the latest Blackpink song to a video of a sleeping cat in just 1 tap or finger scroll. It’s a tough fight for our attention since, I’ll admit, we’re spoiled for content. 

That’s why brands like Netflix are bringing their best meme game to the table, churning out relatable funny memes that capture our attention while also promoting their ongoing shows in just 1 square image. 

Gen Z Netflix

If it ain’t enticing within the 1st few seconds of viewing or if it’s too text-heavy we’re most likely going to scroll past your content or switch to another platform without much 2nd thought. So, remember to keep things succinct.

4. Social shopping

We like shopping, just not at physical stores. I mean, why bother when I can simply lie in bed and click “Add to cart” without needing to go outside? It’s a real time-saver. Social commerce is anticipated to hit  $1.2 trillion with a growth rate 3X that of e-commerce.  We see the rise of social shopping in our generation especially since we already spend so much time on socials. The hashtag #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt already has over 30 bil. hits from users recommending products that sometimes go viral on TikTok, like mini washing machines. 


ITS A MINI WASHING MACHINE HOW CUTE😩 #makeup #tiktokmademebuyit #fypシ #beautytok

♬ original sound – Trulee Rodney

Apps such as TikTok and Instagram are evolving to make shopping experiences more integrated and seamless within their apps. Hence, if your brand wants to seize a slice of the Gen Z market, make sure you adopt a mobile-first approach, since we usually use social media on our phones. Also, don’t forget to integrate your products naturally on the platform, whether it be showing off your fashion line using the latest dance trend or trending audio. Don’t just dump a bunch of product photos on your Insta grid and tag the items. The last thing we want is our Insta feed looking like Shopee or Lazada. 

5. Game it up!

Around 87% of Gen Zs are active gamers. It’s undeniable that interactivity plays a huge part in reaching out to our generation. Including gamified elements in your marketing strategy can be a novel experience for Gen Zs and can often result in higher engagement. That’s how Shopee Games and Google Pay’s CNY Huat Pals thrived. They banked on simple game mechanisms to cultivate loyal consumers. With point-earning systems and referral marketing tactics overshadowed by the joy of chasing collectibles, these games provide a sense of positive reinforcement and sometimes even a sense of community. 

Shopee Candy - YouTube
Huat Pals Ultimate Guide: How to Get BaoBao! - Sethisfy

Some brands are also stepping into the Web3 realm of metaverses to appeal to this generation of gamers. Well, if I’m gonna be spending on your products or using your services I might as well have fun while I’m at it. Makes for a more memorable experience.  

6. Appeal to our entrepreneurial spirit

Gen Z is sometimes referred to as the Side Hustle Generation. We’ve all heard of the narrative that youngsters nowadays are less-driven, “allergic” to hard work. However, Gen Z are still career-minded individuals. Just that, rather than climbing the corporate ladder, we’re more likely to care about gaining new skills and experiences. Some of us find fulfilment in our passion projects selling home-made earrings or keyboard caps outside of our regular 9 to 5s. 

For our generation, we want to leave our legacy and work on something that gives us a sense of purpose. This was likely the impetus behind Heineken’s Tiger beer and their contest to award 25 young hawkers a grant of $10,000 to start-up their own stall in Singapore. They sought to provide support for the next gen of hawkers who were motivated to “innovate and modernise traditional methods of cooking”. 

We Gen Zs are attracted to aspirational and future-oriented brands who want to support us in attaining our goals and dreams. 

7. We want a better world

group of people raising cardboard box with text near building

In this era, remaining neutral on social and environmental issues is no longer an option. It’s time to amplify your brand’s values and show that you’re with us in striving to make our Earth a more sustainable, fair and safe space for all to inhabit.  

We grew up in a time where activism was on the rise and we have causes we care about, be it gender equality, diversified representation, sustainable sourcing etc. And we genuinely mean it. For instance, 3 out of 4 Gen Zs would prioritise sustainability over brand name when making purchases. We’re actively commending and condemning with our dollars. 

We stan brands like Patagonia who are taking tangible steps to reduce its impact on the environment. With their Don’t Buy This Jacket campaign, with discourages excessive consumerism, to their Repair and Reuse program, they’re looking to make a difference. If you haven’t already, consider making a roadmap and outline some actionable steps that your brand can take to become more sustainable and ethically-conscious. And don’t forget to communicate this clearly and consistently. 

8. We want transparency and commitment

Oh, and don’t even think about faking it. We want to see the receipts. This generation isn’t afraid to call out BS with greenwashing and social washing. Just like the hoo-hah regarding H&M’s Conscious Collection, where they claimed the clothes were made with sustainable materials when in fact, they were found to contain more damaging materials than their main line of clothes. This saw an outrage from netizens who took to socials to call out the fashion brand and express their dissent. An investigation by Quartz also showed that H&M’s environmental scorecards for products were “misleading”. Shame shame shame. 

Don’t claim to be what you’re not. All we ask for is simply transparency and accountability. We understand that #ESG and #DEI take effort and are a work in progress, and even communicating honestly about your production, distribution process, or hiring policies is greatly appreciated. We just want to see some movement in the progress bar over time. 

All in all

As you can see, Gen Zs are a whole different ball game from their predecessors. You need to move away from traditional marketing methods and embrace the new. With this group’s spending power, influence, and size growing day by day, it’s best to start incorporating these strategies and building relationships with this generation.