Generational Marketing: Tips on Connecting with a Gen Z Audience

05.23.2023 Sara Brasfield4 min

Gen Z is growing up fast. The oldest members of this generation are graduating from college and entering the workforce, while even the younger end of this age group is approaching young adulthood and becoming a formidable consumer group.

As digital natives who grew up with the Internet—and, depending on their age, smartphones—Gen Z bears some important distinctions from past generations when it comes to digital marketing and advertising. While their tech fluency has shaped the kinds of digital strategies that are most successful in connecting with this audience, the experience of growing up in an era of constant connection and information overload has influenced the way they think about themselves as consumers.

If your business wants to build connections and brand loyalty with a Gen Z audience, your digital ad strategy should prioritize campaigns and messaging designed specifically for these consumers. Here are our recommendations for reaching your Gen Z customers.

Place an Emphasis on Value-Based Messaging

Many Gen Z consumers equate their spending with their values—which means they’re eager to become patrons of businesses whose values and principles align with their own.

According to a recent survey, 42 percent of Gen Z consumers “always” focus on a brand’s social or political involvement when considering whether to support that company—a higher rate than any other consumer group.

Given the influence these values will have on purchasing decisions, localized advertising should target Gen Z consumers with value-based messaging that reflects the company’s values in regards to social and political issues.

In some cases, this might mean using social media and other channels to explicitly articulate your stance on a significant issue, while in other cases your messaging and creative can more subtly reflect these values, such as by highlighting diversity and inclusivity in the people featured in visual ad elements. Although it’s important that this value-based approach be authentic, it can help you win over your local Gen Z audience.

Lean Into Short-Form Ads and Digital Content

There’s strong evidence that claims of Gen Z’s short attention spans are based more on stereotype than fact. But while younger audiences may be just as capable of holding a longer attention span as other consumer groups, there’s no question that this age group is drawn to short-form content—particularly on social channels like Instagram and TikTok.

There could be value in testing out short-form apps like TikTok for small businesses eager to win over a Gen Z audience. Both organic and paid social campaigns on TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, Snap and other platforms could offer cost-effective opportunities to reach this audience.

Even if you’ve struggled to find success with short-form content in the past, you might get better results by specifically targeting younger Gen Z consumers.

Build Multi-Channel Strategies Around Live TV

Gen Z consumers are still watching TV—especially sports and other live TV experiences that don’t translate well to on-demand or streaming options. But how this audience watches TV may differ from other consumer groups—and these behaviors can create their own opportunity.

In addition to TV advertising, for example, local advertisers can take advantage of the fact that about 90 percent of Gen Z consumers at least occasionally watch TV while also using the internet.

Second-screen ad campaigns across social media and other mobile channels can be planned around these events to target Gen Z consumers as they multitask on smartphones and tablets during a live TV event, complementing your TV ad campaign.

Prioritize Customer Retention to Leverage Gen Z’s Brand Loyalties

The value of brand loyalty is particularly high with Gen Z consumers, which demonstrate a willingness to stick with brands that have given them a good relationship in the past.

According to research from the National Retail Federation, 59 percent of Gen Z consumers say they “trust the brands they grew up with”—underscoring the value of building positive brand associations early in life.

In addition, 66 percent of Gen Zers said that they will “continue to buy for a long time” once they settle on a favorite brand. And Gen Z consumers are eager to build those ties: up to 46 percent of this audience said they currently have strong loyalties to one or more brands.

The lesson for small businesses is clear: if you can align your business with the values of your Gen Z customers, and then follow through with a strong brand experience, you could potentially drive an excellent customer lifetime value from these consumers. Digital advertising, including remarketing and post-conversion engagement, can play a crucial role in strengthening that overall brand experience and locking in customers as loyal devotees to your brand.

As Gen Z continues to grow up, its collective power as a consumer group will also increase. While this may further galvanize Gen Zers to be more conscientious about the brands they work with, small businesses can build toward a brighter, more sustainable future by building strong bonds with these consumers sooner rather than later.

A marketing strategy consultant can help you create a cost-effective plan for connecting with Gen Z consumers and building brand loyalty that pays dividends for years to come. Contact Cox Media today to see how we can help.

About the Author

Sara Brasfield

Sara is the Content Marketing Manager for Cox Media’s corporate team in Atlanta, with a passion for writing and delivering relevant insights for advertisers. With more than eight years of experience in B2B marketing, Sara aims to help Cox Media’s current and future clients connect with their customers find new and unique ways to grow their business. Outside of the office, Sara loves spending time running, reading, and supporting her favorite teams (Go Braves & Gamecocks!).

View All of Sara Brasfield's Blog Posts

Connect with a Marketing Expert

Share Post On Social

Connect With Your Local Marketing Expert

You know your business. We know advertising. Together, we can bring your business to more people. Contact a member of our team today. We’d love to help you grow.