June 07, 2023
June 07, 2023

How to Market to Gen Z

It’s no secret that one of the biggest challenges businesses face today is how to reach the younger generations, specifically Gen Z. Born between 1997 and 2012, Gen Z is a highly influential demographic that is now coming of age and entering the workforce, which means they’re beginning to have more disposable income in their pockets.

In this article, we’ll explore what Gen Z is all about, why the demographic is important to businesses, best practices for marketing, and how to reach those young people using social media and Snapchat.

Understanding Gen Zers

Gen Zers are an exceptionally diverse and complex group of people. If you want to connect with and sell to them, it’s crucial to understand their characteristics and preferences so that you can develop informed, effective marketing strategies that they can ultimately relate and respond to. Some defining traits include these:

  • Gen Zers are digital natives: They’ve grown up in a world entirely immersed in and driven by technology, so they’re perfectly comfortable existing in the digital world. They’re highly tech-savvy and completely at home navigating various digital devices and platforms.

  • Gen Zers are socially conscious: They want to make a difference in the world, and as a result, they’re passionate about social and environmental issues and inclined to take action to effect change.

  • Gen Zers are unusually individualistic: They’re keen on expressing their unique personalities, particularly through their clothing, music, and lifestyle choices.

  • Gen Zers value authenticity and transparency in the brands they support: They’re skeptical of traditional advertising, prefer to engage with brands that are genuine and honest, and react very favorably to the realness of user-generated content.

  • Gen Zers are constantly connected to the world through their smartphones and social media. They typically rely on multiple social media platforms to connect with friends and family, stay informed, and discover new products and services.

Why Gen Z is Important for Business

Gen Z is an incredibly significant demographic for businesses to market to because they're quickly becoming one of the most influential consumer groups. With over 2 billion individuals worldwide — representing about 30% of the global population¹ — they're a massive demographic group, and their spending power is only increasing as they enter the workforce and gain more financial independence.

Because Gen Z is the largest and most diverse generation in history, they wield significant buying power. According to a report by Knit, Gen Z standalone buying power is around US$44 billion and its buying power influence is US$600 billion.² With that in mind, it’s an easy leap: As this demographic continues to enter the workforce and become financially independent, their purchasing power will only continue to grow.

But sheer numbers aren’t the only factor that make Gen Z a crucial target audience. They're also a very influential population, with strong opinions and values that are shaping the cultural and social landscape in many ways. They’re the generation leading the charge on sustainability, diversity, and social justice issues. Businesses that fail to align accordingly risk being left behind.

Equally significantly and as we mentioned earlier, Gen Z represents a generation that has grown up in an era of constant technological change. As a result, they're perpetually connected and able to adjust digital course readily as new technologies emerge, with social media and online platforms playing a central role in their lives.

Businesses that can successfully engage with Gen Z on those channels have the potential to build deep, long-lasting, loyalty-rich relationships that can very literally and monumentally sway their bottom line for the better.

Marketing to Gen Z

To effectively market to Gen Z, businesses need to take a different approach than they have in the past. Here are some strategies to consider for yours:

  • Create honest, socially responsible content
    As mentioned earlier, Gen Z is passionate about social justice and environmental issues. Gen Zers want to know what your brand stands for and what your company is doing to make a positive impact on the world.

    So, make sure your business is actively addressing these concerns, and highlight your social responsibility efforts in your marketing messages. Focus on creating honest, transparent, genuine marketing content that showcases your values and mission and synchronizes your business with your customers’ persuasions and expectations.

    On Snapchat, use your Public Profile to position and convey your business’s personality and values, and to communicate your commitment to social responsibility by engaging with your customers.

  • Use social media platforms
    Social media is an essential part of Gen Z's daily life. For that reason, you should leverage platforms such as Snapchat to reach this demographic, making sure your marketing efforts are optimized for your platform of choice.

    Craft and utilize creative and engaging content to capture Gen Z’s attention, including short-form videos and influencer partnerships, both of which tend to be strong performers in this context.

  • Embrace video content: It’s no secret or surprise that Gen Zers prefer video content over other types of content — they’ve grown up in the thick of social media’s ascension and radical image-capture technology evolution.

    Focus on creating engaging, compelling, and informative videos that are intentionally brief (remember short attention spans) and showcase your products or services in as interesting a light as possible. As we’ve seen at Snapchat, Gen Z’s extremely keen on user-generated content, so you can expect better results when you choose to go down that road.

  • Provide personalized experiences: Gen Z is more interested in meaningful experiences than material possessions. They prefer and expect personalization: customized approaches that cater to their (and their friend groups’) unique preferences, interests, and tastes, and align with their values. They can largely see right through fluff. Instead, they want realness, they want truth, and they want personalization.

    When those demands are met, you stand a great chance of landing a new customer. So be sure to use technology to enhance the customer experience and make it easy for Gen Zers to interact with your brand on their terms.

  • Partner with influencers: Gen Zers trust influencers, value their opinions, and respond to their direction much more so than they do with any given corporate entity. It’s in your best interest to invest time and effort into pinpointing and developing relationships with strategic influencers, and partnering with them to promote your offerings.

woman looking at cell phone

Best Practices for Advertising to Gen Z

When building out your Gen Z-targeted campaigns, refer to this list of tips and best practices to create ads that get results:

  • Keep it short and sweet: Given Gen Z's short attention span and tendency toward distraction, keep your ads short (under 10 seconds) and to the point. Focus on the key message you want to convey, do it with as much useful panache as you can muster, and make sure it's all easily digestible.

  • Be creative: Gen Z is a generation that values cleverness, imagination, and innovation. So use eye-catching visuals, unique graphics, and animations that stand out and capture their attention.

  • Be mobile-friendly: Gen Z is a mobile-first generation, and they spend a lot of time on their smartphones. So make sure your ads are optimized for mobile devices and can be easily and fully viewed on smaller screens.

  • Integrate user-generated content (UCG): Gen Z values authenticity and wants to see real people using your products or services. So inject user-generated content into your ads, such as customer reviews and social media posts, to showcase your products in action.

  • Use humor and relatability: Gen Z responds well to humor and ads that feel relatable to their experiences. Try to inject some personality and wit into your ads to make them stand out and resonate with your target audience.

  • Highlight social responsibility: Showcase your social responsibility efforts in your ads, such as eco-friendly products or charitable partnerships, to connect with Gen Z on a deeper level.

  • Showcase diverse perspectives: Gen Z is a generation that appreciates inclusivity and representation like none before it. To reflect this value, consider featuring a variety of perspectives in your ads, such as different cultures, ethnicities, and persuasions.

  • Offer a discount or promotion: Gen Z loves a good deal. Consider offering a discount or special promotion to entice them to make a purchase.

Need some inspiration for your campaign? Check out these examples from Snapchat advertisers who found success on the platform:

Mister Bandana
Mister Bandana sells adventure-ready bandanas that are 100% produced in the USA. Founders Josh Stoneman and Roko use self-shot ad creative and incorporate user-generated content that speaks authentically to their target audience on Snapchat, enabling them to grow their business in a cost effective way. As Josh puts it, “We can just snap a photo with our phones and get it onto the platform quickly, without spending too much money or time.”

Pit Viper
Founded by two skiers with a passion for having fun, Pit Viper creates durable sunglasses that are affordable while demanding respect and emanating authority. They used a combination of stylish videos produced in-house along with the Snap Pixel and conversion campaigns — optimized by utilizing location targeting to run ads near and around ski and snowboarding resorts and communities — to increase online sales and brand awareness.

Hollywood Hair Bar
Hollywood Hair Bar sells a full line of all-natural hair growth products. Leveraging user generated video testimonials as part of their ad strategy on Snapchat, the company was able to connect with their target audience to boost brand awareness and drive online sales.

showing GPS map of midtown west

Gen Z and Snapchat

When it comes to marketing to Gen Z, Snapchat is one of the most popular social media platforms among this age group. While 9 out of 10 young people are on Snapchat³, you won’t find that same enthusiasm on other social media networks: a majority of daily Snapchat users ages 16 and older don’t use Twitter every day, and nearly half of them don’t use TikTok either.⁴

Why else is Snapchat so popular among Gen Zers?

  1. Snapchat allows for quick, easy, fun communication through images and videos, which aligns with Gen Z's preference for visual content.

  2. Snapchat's ephemeral nature and emphasis on in-the-moment sharing resonates with Gen Z's desire for authenticity and realness in their online interactions.

  3. A lot of Snapchatters’ time spent on the platform involves connecting with close friends — who, incidentally, they say are 4X more influential than celebrities or influencers on their purchasing decisions.⁵

  4. That word-of-mouth activity helps make Snapchat the #1 platform where people enjoy sharing their shopping experiences and purchases they love.⁶

How can businesses like yours leverage Snapchat to reach this coveted audience? In light of what we’ve covered in this article, a wise primary strategy is to create engaging Snapchat ads that resonate with Gen Z's preferences and values. For example, say you want to run a Father's Day social media campaign targeting Gen Zers. Within your ad creative, you could include messaging along the lines of “Celebrate the dads that make this planet a better place.”

Some more really good reasons to lean on Snapchat for Gen Z success:

  • Snapchat is heavily used by Gen Z: Snapchat has 293 million daily active users worldwide, and 58.8% of Snapchat members are ages 13-24 - occupying the Gen Z demographic.⁷ So if Gen Z is one of your target audiences, advertising on Snapchat can help you reach them more effectively than other platforms.

  • Snapchat offers a range of unique advertising options that are well-suited to the preferences of Gen Z. For instance, you can create short, engaging video ads that appear between users' stories. And you can employ "Sponsored Lenses" to create interactive augmented reality (AR) experiences that users can share with their friends

  • Snapchat's "Discover" section offers a space for businesses to create and share their own content, such as articles, videos, and quizzes. Lean on Discover to showcase your business’s brand personality and connect with Gen Z on a deeper level, building long-term engagement and loyalty.

  • Snapchat enables you to target users based on their location, making it a powerful tool for geo-targeted marketing campaigns. Take advantage of this feature to reach Gen Z Snapchatters in a variety of locations, from countries and states to cities and towns, increasing the likelihood of conversion and building brand awareness.

Connect with Gen Z like never before.

1 Source: “Chart: How Gen Z employment levels compare in OECD countries”, March 26, 2021, Avery Coop (weforum)
2 Source: “Gen Z’s Money Management”, (Knit)
3 90% of 13-to-24-year-olds in 20+ countries. Snap Inc. internal data Q2 2022. Penetration calculated as MAU divided by 2021 population estimates, per United Nations World Population Prospects, 2022.
4 Source: GWI Q1 and Q2 2022. Sample Size: 11,147 Snapchatters aged 16-64 who use the platform daily. Market: USA
5 Snap Inc. survey of US Snapchat users June 16 - 19, 2020. Age and location data subject to restrictions. See Audience Tool for details. Question: “Which of these types of people are most influential on you choosing products to buy or trying something new?“; 787 respondents
6 2022 Global Crowd DNA Study commissioned by Snap Inc. | Base: Gen Z - Daily Snapchatters = 2,092 Daily TikTok = 2,223 Daily Instagram = 2,150 Daily Facebook = 1,227 Daily Messenger = 1,088 Daily Whatsapp = 1,554 Daily Twitter = 1,101 | Q: Which of the following moments do you enjoy sharing or celebrating on each app? (NET: When I’ve bought something I love, When I’m shopping)
7 Source: “Snapchat Ads Stats”, (Business of Apps Research)