Marketing to Gen Z: Who They Are & How They’re Different From Other Generations


Marketing to Gen Z can be a great way to expand your audience—you just need to figure out how to adjust your strategy.


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Market Research » Marketing to Gen Z: Who They Are & How They’re Different From Other Generations

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One way to separate out your target audiences into segments is by generation. Generations refer to a certain time period that someone was born. For example, the term “Gen X” is typically used to refer to those who were born between 1965 and 1980 while the term “Millennial” is typically used to refer to those born between the years 1981 and 1996.

Generations usually span a 15 or so year period and are so useful because of how much things can change over that time and for those groups of people.


An illustration showcasing three Gen Zers along with things that make the Gen Z generation what it is

One of the newest generations—at least newest to the economy due to their newfound buying power—is Gen Z, or those born between 1997 and 2012.

Gen Z have grown up with the internet, social media, and other innovations that make marketing to them much different than other generations. Throughout this article, we’re going to cover what makes them so different as well as a few major strategies to help you market and sell to Gen Z.

Who is Gen Z?


Generation Z, Gen Z for short, are between ages 11 and 26 at the time of this writing. They’re the newest generation to be out in the economy and have buying power—which means marketing to them properly is still a novelty.

Other nicknames for Gen Z are iGen, Zoomers, post-Millennials, or Centennials—but Gen Z is the most popular and most supported term.

Some key stats about Generation Z include:

  • Gen Z is more racially and ethnically diverse than any previous generation
  • Nearly 1 in 4 Gen Zers have lived in poverty
  • Gen Z are more likely than other generations to report poor mental health issues
  • Almost half of Gen Z teens say they’re online almost constantly

How is Gen Z Different From Other Generations?


Gen Z—and marketing to Gen Z—is much different than other generations. The first reason is due to their access to technology. Having grown up with social media and access to the world at their fingertips, Gen Z has discovered just how easy it can be to build an audience and put their thoughts out into the world.

As Gen Z entrepreneur Harry Beard stated in his recent TEDTalk, “We’re a generation who no longer need to create a full strategy in order to reach and influence thousands of people. We just create a tweet.”

With Gen Z being a generation who knows how to create online content and build an audience, your basic social media and marketing strategy isn’t going to impress them. You have to take it a step further.

More than that, Gen Z is a generation that cares about social issues, inclusivity and authenticity. They want to see brands who care about the same issues they do and that will take a stand for things they value.

They’ve grown up in an era of rapid technological change, globalism, and economic uncertainty. This impacts the type of businesses Gen Z wants to work with and the types of content and statements they want to see from their favorite brands.

These differences set Gen Z aside from other generations, requiring brands to be savvy, unique, authentic, and more.

A stock photo of a group of Gen Zers standing together and laughing at their phones

Top Strategies for Marketing to Gen Z


So how do you properly market to Gen Z? Let’s go through a few main strategies and some tactics to use for each one.

1. Broaden Your Market Research Solutions

We’ve covered some of the basics that apply to this generation as a whole, but it’s still important to conduct enough market research to understand your specific target audience—and the types of messaging they want to see from your specific brand.

Standard market research can help, but you should broaden your market research solutions to ensure you’re using the right marketing tactics. Here are a few market research options to consider:

  • Surveys and Focus Groups: Though traditional, these are still effective tools. Focus on getting feedback from diverse groups within Gen Z to understand various perspectives.
  • Social Media Analytics: Platforms like Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter are Gen Z playgrounds. Employ analytic tools to understand their behavior, preferences, and conversations.
  • Social Listening: Monitor conversations surrounding your brand and industry online by setting alerts for target keywords. What are those in Gen Z saying? What do they want from brands like yours?
  • Collaborate with Gen Z Influencers: Influencer feedback—and that from their audiences—can provide insights that may not surface in traditional research methods.

Solid market research is the backbone of any marketing strategy, especially when trying to understand a new generation and their demands. Get in touch with someone from our team to carve out your Gen Z market research plan.

2. Address Their Customer Concerns

Gen Z is deeply concerned about the world they are inheriting. They prefer shopping with brands that share their value. To grab their attention, make sure you’re loudly addressing their concerns surrounding sustainability, inclusivity, and other major social issues.

Here are a few tactics to consider:

  • Sustainability: It’s not just a buzzword. 62% of Gen Zers prefer brands that invest in sustainable practices and products. But remember, don’t just say it, show it. Transparency is crucial.
  • Social Responsibility: Support causes that matter to Gen Z. Consider partnerships or campaigns that align with issues they care about.
  • Personalization: This generation values individuality. Offer products or services that they can customize or that feel tailored to them.
  • Brand Purpose: Gen Z wants to buy from brands that have an overall bigger purpose or mission. Consider finding a cause and sharing a percentage of proceeds from certain products with that charity or creating a brand mission that supports an important social issue.
  • Transparency: Your Gen Z customers will be able to tell if you’re touting social causes just for the sake of it. They want to see transparency and follow-through to know your brand delivers on what it believes in.

Prove that your brand puts its money where its mouth is, and that it backs causes important to those in Gen Z. Some of the biggest social issues Gen Z cares about are:

  • Mental health
  • Healthcare
  • Economic security
  • Civic engagement
  • The environment
  • Racial equity

3. Use Innovative Marketing Tactics

The traditional marketing funnel might not always resonate with Gen Z. Many of them have already figured out how to become huge influencers on sites like TikTok and Instagram—only the most unique and innovative marketing tactics are going to grab their attention.

Here are a few to think about:

  • Interactive Content: Augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and interactive quizzes can engage this tech-savvy generation.
  • Utilize New Platforms: While Facebook may resonate with Millennials and Gen X, platforms like TikTok and Snapchat might be more effective for Gen Z. Pay attention to new platforms, too. Lemon8 is a Gen Z-focused lifestyle app and BeReal is an app focused on real-time photos.
  • User-Generated Content (UGC): Encourage them to create content for your brand. It’s authentic and relatable.
  • Video Marketing: Gen Z’s favorite social media platforms (YouTube, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram) all have one thing in common—video content. They want to consume videos, so make sure video is a part of your strategy.
  • Try New Tactics: Gen Z is the most tech savvy generation so far. Try to keep up by testing out new tactics and experimenting with different platforms and strategies.

Innovation will be your key to connecting with your Gen Z audience. Stay on the edge of new marketing and market research trends to keep up with this new generation.

4. Adapt Your Company Culture

It’s essential not just to understand Gen Z but to embed their values and preferences into your organization’s culture. The way your company hires and treats its employees will be just as scrutinized.

Here are a few adaptations to make within your company and its culture to ensure you appeal to Gen Z shoppers:

  • Inclusion: Promote diversity in your team. This isn’t just a hiring numbers game. Ensure your workplace culture genuinely supports and celebrates differences.
  • Continuous Learning: Organize regular training sessions to keep your team updated about the changing dynamics of Gen Z. Reverse-mentoring (having your Gen Z staffers help older staffers better understand them) can also be a valuable strategy.
  • Encourage Bottom-Up Feedback: Younger employees might have a better grasp on Gen Z values. Encourage them to provide feedback and ideas.
  • Innovative Work Practices: Remote work, digital communication, and other innovation work practices are important to Gen Z. Innovation should always be the goal. No more, “We do it this way because it’s always worked.” There are always new ways to improve.

Whether you’re trying to market to Gen Z or hire Gen Z, employing some of these company culture practices can make your brand seem that much more attractive.


Let OvationMR Help You Craft Your Gen Z Marketing Strategy


Marketing to Gen Z doesn’t have to be complicated. Start adjusting to the world Gen Z wants to see, while still staying true to your brand values and keeping your Millennial and Gen X strategies in place.

To help you learn more about marketing to Gen Z—especially those in your specific target audience—consider running a market research study. Our team at OvationMR can help you get started today.


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