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Strategy

How to ‘Gen Z’ your marketing strategy & campaigns

Gen Z is under the spotlight for forward-thinking brands. This next generation of spenders is now of consumer age, but are you taking advantage?

Born between the late 90s and the early 2010s, Gen Z follows Millennials. Whilst their spending power tops £353 billion, they shop more cautiously and conscientiously than their predecessors.

As the first generation to have grown up with broadband internet speeds and smartphones, this demographic is most tech-savvy so far. They are conscious, digital-first consumers, shopping adroitly for deals, while having ethics and values at the heart of purchasing decisions.

So, if shopping around is standard, then what ticks the boxes to keep these consumers coming back? What inspires Gen Z brand loyalty? How do you get your hands on an economic slice of the elusive pie?

Let’s dive into some campaign inspiration and take a look at some of the best-ever Gen Z marketing campaigns and ideas.

Say what you meme — humour gets you everywhere

Gen Z may be socially conscious, but get them laughing and you’ll be sure to grab their attention. This is the generation that has grown up on digital content consumption, so there are only a handful of ways to stop their scroll. Humour plays a key role in marketing to Gen Z.

A cheeky meme here and there is a mark of many brands in this day and age, but those who wield the power of confident tone of voice and humour in the day to day, if managed well, can reap the rewards. Whether you agree with the approach or not, a brand that does this exceptionally well is budget Irish airline, Ryanair.

Ryanair’s social media feeds — in particular, their TikTok and X feeds — are the stuff of legend, delivering a chatty, irreverent tone and comebacks. You’ll also see the social media team wading into other people’s channels with witty one liners and the odd GIF and as a result, the brand always gets its fair share of likes, shares and comments.

Ryanair's X post mocking a user with a tongue-in-cheek response to their complaint.
Ryanair's X post mocking a user with a tongue-in-cheek response to their complaint.

Whether it’s responding to messages, or picking up on our travel ‘icks’ the social media team has the vibe nailed every time. Take this shared feeling about those passengers who get a little ‘too’ comfortable on a flight.

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This tongue-in-cheek, occasionally in-your-face humour has won them many fans. It’s their unwavering consistency and commitment to it that feeds the interest and enjoyment. Even their bio is tailored to maximising their resonance with younger customers, saying ‘Catch Flights, not Feelings’.

Another incredible example of utilising Gen Z-coded humour to boost engagement and brand loyalty can be found when looking at the mastery of money management tool, Cleo.

The brand's ‘Roast Mode’ is an in-app option that permits the app to aggressively chastises you for your spending habits, featuring an array of witty, yet savage responses to the users’ financial questions and requests. Last year, over 300,000 users chose to be roasted by the app, highlighting the fact this humorous (yet useful) tool is a user favourite.

Money management tool Cleo's 'Roast Mode', which chastises users for their spending habits.
Money management tool Cleo's 'Roast Mode', which chastises users for their spending habits.

A dash of humour seems to go a long way with Gen Z audiences.

Pay attention — and hold theirs

This is the socially-conscious generation. They care about brands that are bold enough to showcase their values, stand up for inequality and prove there’s more to their marketing than profit.

Marketing with purpose wins with Gen Z — this means authenticity, accountability and transparency as a business.

One survey showed that the majority of Gen Z consumers would boycott brands that mistreat or underpay workers (61%), use or mistreat animals for production and testing (59%), are considered ‘corrupt’ (58%) or are associated with racism or non-inclusivity (51%).

These values and principles define interactions with a brand, and as such, we must consider how to reach people authentically, with proof points and trust nurtured along the way.

A great example of a cause-led campaign for Gen Z comes from the powerhouse of denim that is Levi Stauss. Their ‘Buy Better, Wear Longer’ campaign took a common issue — the notion that fast fashion is both unethical, unsustainable and wasteful — and built on its existing brand legacy with a campaign around investing in quality pieces that are designed to be worn ‘for generations not seasons’.

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The campaign saw the brand highlight sustainability issues and those surrounding climate change, with the help of celebrities including Jaden Smith, Marcus Rashford and Emma Chamberlain.

In particular, Gen Z have strong values relating to racial justice, diversity, sustainability and LGBTQ+ rights. 70% try to shop from brands they consider ethical; 60% think that same-sex couples should be allowed to adopt children.

But whether it’s about the planet or people, standing up for what you believe in is a huge trust signal for Gen Z consumers. Brands that stay silent on pressing socio-economic and political issues risk fading into obscurity and losing the attention of these shoppers to more socially-switched-on competitors.

This time, it’s personal

Make. Everything. Personal.

Of course it is too much to ask to tailor every single touch point and marketing opportunity bespoke (unless you really do have the BIG budgets and a small customer pool). But making your marketing feel like it was made for your consumer is big business and never more so than with this aware, hyper-critical generation of shoppers.

Personalisation can mean simple steps like allowing your site users to easily access their favourites or previously viewed items. Or, it might look like tailored offers and emails to loyal customers, birthday treats or unique discounts to celebrate new products.

By focusing on a more tailored user experience, brands can make their customers feel special.

Take Spotify as a great example. Their ultra-sharable ‘Wrapped Day’ is the personalisation pièce de résistance. But all year round, they work to create this sense of customisation and ownership with song suggestions and tailored ‘Daylist’ playlists based on mood, listening history and liked songs.

Daylist duly took off on Instagram, with users sharing their interesting (and sometimes humorous titles), resulting in searches for the feature spiking by 20,000%. These bespoke lists are updated throughout every day - endless personalisation that is enjoyable, unique and shareable.

Spotify's Daylist, which is a playlist based on a user's mood, listening history and liked songs.

Experiences over objects

Or, perhaps with an engaging product strategy, both?

Principled and always seeking value, Gen Z is also always on the lookout for the best. This means experiences, not just quality of product. They seek out experiences, memorable and shareables.

“More than 70% of Gen Zers told researchers at Goldman Sachs that they’d rather spend money on experiences, particularly entertainment experiences, than on acquiring things.”

byondxr.com/blog/5-things-every-brand-should-know-about-gen-z-consumers/

If you have a product to sell, there’s value in giving these shoppers the best time possible — attaching an experience to the transaction is therefore potentially a double win for you.

The good news is, in a digital age, there are plenty of on- and offline ways to create an experience. They may be a digital generation, but they are not beyond a bricks and mortar experience. Pop-up shops, stunts and hands-on experiences rank high with Gen Z.

Think of global queues around the block for Harry’s House, the Harry Styles pop-up shops to celebrate the launch of his 2022 album. With unique photo opportunities and limited edition, site-specific merch, these were unmissable opportunities for fans to share experiences in person (and digitally).

The campaign included a barrage of online hints, clues and information that created a treasure hunt-style frenzy to work out the locations, making the end-to-end experience something involved, exciting and highly engaging.

Need help keeping up with Gen Z? Our award-winning team of digital marketers are experts in social media, branding, paid media, email marketing, PR, content marketing and search engine optimisation. Get in touch through our contact page or by using the button below.

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Post by

Team Amy K

Amy

Head of Brand & Content

Amy joined in 2014 to set up our Content department. She now heads up a growing Brand and Content team, utilising over 13 years’ experience to deliver brand awareness through targeted, multi-channel copy. As well as engaging content for websites and blogs, Amy delivers PR strategies and tone of voice exploration, helping clients to communicate the purpose and values of their brand with maximum impact.

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