Generation Z: Your Demographic

Welcome to BYOU Magazine's ongoing informational series about Generation Z! Check back here for lots of updates on Gen Z, helpful tips for advertising, and you why should be paying attention to this pivotal group of individuals. 

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Who is Generation Z? Why are they important to you?

Gen-Z Who are they?

Figure 1

The next generation of consumers is growing up before our eyes and they’re quickly taking over. The generation we’re referring to is Gen Z. Born between the years of 1995 and 2005, Gen Z currently makes up more than a quarter of the US population and will grow to one-third by 2020; they will be responsible for 40% of the spending. But why does this matter? This self-starter generation is making their own money, spending that money, and influencing their family’s buying decisions.

IBM reports that this generation of go-getters is using their skills to earn an allowance, work part time, and even make money online. The money they’re making isn’t just sitting in a savings account it’s being spent. 75 percent of Gen Z spends half of their monthly income, with clothes and entertainment topping shopping lists. This self-starter generation is so familiar with technology that there is virtually no split between online and offline channels. This lack of split allows these young minds to influence family spending power. From product selection, to purchasing methods, to post purchasing activities they’re shaping they’re households purchase by purchase.


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How Much Influence Does Gen Z Have on Family Spending?

Gen Z Influence on Family Spending

Figure 2

As stated above, Gen Z has money and they’re spending it! They wield substantial influence over their household’s purchasing power as well. Because of their digital knowledge, they are influencing family member’s ways of spending, along with product evaluation and post-purchasing activities such as repeat buying.

According to IBM, Gen Z has 70% of the influence on family spending, this influence extends to family purchases like clothes, food and beverage, household goods, and even furniture! Check out Figure 2 to see what Gen Z is spending their money on compared with influence they have on those same purchases.

Today's retailers and brand managers understand now that Gen Z is developing brand relationships and buying habits. And the way they develop these relationships is very different from Millennials. According to REVOLT TV Vice President of Audience Insights and Strategy, Jake Katz, it’s important to build a relationship that’s interesting and relevant in Gen Z’s social feeds. Taking a close look at how they spend their money, where they're spending it, and who their influencing is key. Inviting and embracing Gen Z from every outlet is pivotal in 2017.

Those who follow the advice above will capture Gen Z today; and will own their percentage of the 40% of Gen Z's spending power by 2020.


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5 Fresh Tips (that actually work) to Market to Gen Z!

Gen Z is such an up and coming consumer it’s hard to keep up with them. However, we’re here to help you stay up to date on their habits, and how to market to them. If you do a simple Google search of “Market to Gen Z” you will be overloaded with articles and research— we’ve done the legwork. You’ll find tips like “Know your audience” and “Be seen and heard,” basic stuff right? We’re taking those basics and kicking it up a notch. Below we’ll not only introduce you to fresh tips, but also show you exactly how to market to the biggest up and coming group of consumers: Gen Z!

1. Get Noticed & Grab their Attention

Gen Z is on social media, browsing websites, shopping in stores, reading magazines, listening to music, talking to their friends-- in other words, they are active. With an 8 second attention span, their minds are constantly engaged in something. To be focused, understand that your ads have to be placed in multiple channels. Gen Z wants entertainment, humor, and reality; and they want it convenient and fast. And the additional opportunity with multiple channels is that your advertising could become viral. This generation has a higher tendency to share with friends if they enjoy the content.

How Gen Z Spends Their Free TimeNoticeability is all about multichannel exposure. Print materials are something they want. They want direct mail, and are more likely to read it if it's something physical in their hands. And they're spending time online! Yes, they're all over the place, so grabbing their attention during their free time activities is key. Instead of giving them a traditional ad or pitch, give them entertainment. Be funny. Show your real side. Gen Z is 3 times more receptive to an advertisement if it’s funny.

While they’re reading magazines and scrolling through Instagram, they’re paying attention. Gen Z grew up in a web-based world, they’re conditioned to ignore those traditional pop up ads. CNBC reports, 69% of Gen Z avoids ads and skips ads 3 seconds quicker than Gen X. Those 3 seconds is pretty valuable when it’s over 35% of their attention span.

2. Connect & Engage

Allow this generation to get involved. We know that Gen Z has entrepreneurial tendencies and have that killer go-getter attitude. They want you to see and hear them. Giving them the option to interact with polls, design opportunities, surveys, feedback loops, reviews, online and in-person groups, and reveal videos are awesome ways to show your consumer you appreciate and want their brainpower.

3. Gen Z is not Millennials

Even though Gen Z is right on the heels of Millennials age wise, they're nothing alike. When deciding on a product, Millennials are concerned about price, while Gen Z looks beyond price like free delivery or other services that come along with the product. Gen Z loves to play with their identity and style. Send free stickers with your product, include a personal note, send your brand's must read book list, anything extra they receive with their purchase are BIG brownie points for Gen Z.

Millennials ask for help more than Gen Z. With that said, make shopping easy in stores and online. If Gen Z has a question or is confused about something and can't find the answer easily, they're going to move on to the next brand. For example, if you have a sale item thats 25% off, show what the discounted price is up front.

4. Shopping in-stores or online? (Spoiler: It's both!)

Where Gen Z shops can vary because of the access of digital reviews, communication with friends, and coupons. IBM reports that 67% of Gen Z spends most of the time shopping in stores versus the 22% that shop most of the time using a web browser.

They’re making money and spending money, but finding a deal is important. Everyone enjoys a good deal. However, Gen Z will search for coupons, enroll in rewards programs, and wait for discounts. Email digital coupons that do not need to be printed, as well as mailing physical coupons. Reward them for shopping or getting involved in a social media campaign or survey. And have continued discounts that they know are coming. These are simple ways for Gen Z to become repeat buyers and build lifetime brand relationships.

How Gen Z Prefers to Spend their Money

5. Know their Motivation

Gen Z has grown up with news at their fingertips. They are so aware of reality it’s hard to shield them from what’s happening in the world. They want a better world, and support the brands that want the same.

Give them more bang for their buck.Take the shoe brand Toms for example, for every pair of shoes sold, they’ll donate one to a child in need. You’ve probably heard the story before, right? However, you do not have to be on that high on the do-gooder scale, but just the awareness of the problems that matter to Gen Z is pivotal. A shared purpose with Gen Z gives you the opportunity to engage, and reel in those potential consumers.


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Understanding Gen Z's Shopping Habits

Gen Z has never known in their lifetime anything other than what we call modern technology. This has shaped the way Gen Z is shopping. They’re using technology while shopping in stores and constantly searching for the best deal, the availability of deals, and specific products.

Comparison Shopping, Gen Z is looking for better deals. Think value, not necessarily only price

It’s the age of mobile everything; everyone has a computer in their pocket and comparison shopping is taking over. And it’s Gen Z who is doing the most on the spot comparison shopping than any other generation. What is comparison shopping? This is when you’re shopping in a store and you see that new gadget that everyone’s been buying, but you take out your cell phone to do a quick search to see if it’s the best model, the best value, and if it is better to buy elsewhere.  And 100% of Gen Z would browse a website, or more, while in a retail store to find a better price and value than talk to a salesperson.

However, Gen Z is taking this comparison shopping to a new level. They’re not only looking at Amazon, they’re looking at all websites, searching for coupons, sales, and the easiest access to receive the product. The world of retail is changing and this generation will control 40% of the spending power.

Gen Z Comparison Shopping

How do you keep Gen Z in stores, and more importantly buying in stores? 

Experience & Discounts

Gen Z wants a customizable shopping experience that fits their preferences. Get to know your sector of Gen Z and make shopping fun with giveaways, in-stores only sales, and in store campaigns. 56% of Gen Z wants a store experience to be fun. Connect their online shopping with in-store shopping. Things like virtual fitting tools and shopping aisles that will make their in-store shopping exciting.

Apple stores are a great example of fun and experiential shopping. They have many products available for trying, lots of customer support, and customers don’t have to wait in that traditional line. Each salesperson handles transactions seamlessly with portable purchasing iPads with the option to email receipts.

If Gen Z didn’t share it on social media, did it really happen? Almost 70% of Gen Z shoppers say they have written reviews. And are more likely to give feedback via Tweeting or posting on Facebook or SnapChat. Gen Z also values responses from their friends and family on their reviews of products.

Getting a discount is also apart of the Gen Z consumer expectation. Gen Z will go and find the discount no matter what, so make it easy for them. Give them physical coupons in stores (where they’re shopping 67% of the time), have fun and easy rewards programs, and have regular sales they can rely on.

Gen Z Purchasing


A huge factor of Gen Z shopping habits is availability. Quality, product availability, and value are the most important factors when choosing one brand over another. Seeing that “sold out” notice on a product they want will deter them from one brand and put their faith in another.

At an early age Gen Z has high expectations and have developed sophisticated shopping habits. Targeting Gen Z buyers with valued services is important. By understanding and addressing this generation’s behaviors and preferences, Gen Z will continue to return to your brand over and over again; and are more likely to purchase your products as they grow into adulthood.

This empowered generation opens the door for all brands, big and small. Gen Z is going into stores to browse products, but if they can find a deal online that’s where they’re going to turn to.

Advertising and marketing is essential to a successful business. But, more than just getting out there, your advertising must also inspire your audience to engage with your brand or product. Below we’re sharing 10 effective advertising tips to market to Gen Z and how to avoid the most common pitfalls.
Remember, Gen Z  has huge influence on family spending and will make up 40% of the world’s spending power by 2020.  This is one audience you should be considering when advertising in 2017. Gen Z has begun making brand relationships, let’s make sure you’re taking the right steps to claim their attention.


10 Tips for Effective Advertising for Gen Z

1. Consider Your Audience

Even at their young age, Gen Z has values and they care about the wellbeing of the world. How do you connect these values to your company? Show them you’re aware of the issues surrounding the world. Whether that’s running a campaign to support a world issue, or donating to a cause. 90% of shoppers worldwide are likely to switch to brands that support a good cause. (BONUS: Employees perform better when they engage in socially responsible activities and reporting.)

2. Grabbing Attention is Everything 

We’re not talking “click baiting” -- as a matter of fact that strategy will deter Gen Z from your message. Gen Z responds really well to advertisements that are humorous or that play into their interests or concerns.  Don’t just think about presenting your product image and expecting them to jump at it; think entertainment, impact, and shareability!
3. Go Where the Fish are and Less Fisherman

Cliche, we know and maybe even a “DUH,” but... Don’t waste your valuable budget where the audience is either inundated with ads (especially your competitors, but ads in general) or where they’re not hanging out.  Sounds simple right? You’d be surprised how often we are talking with folks about their campaigns who are disappointed with the results, only to find out that they are one of dozens or hundreds of ads slammed in a single channel. With Gen Z, these ads will simply be ignored, regardless of how clever. A second mistake is the advertisers are trying to reach Gen Z in a roundabout way, via their parents.  (Remember: this audience has $44 billion in spending power on their own and $600 billion in influenced spending, it’s harder, but go direct!)
Find places where there is less noise, situations where you can get some exclusivity, or focused attention on your brand or product with things like video sponsorship (where you are the only sponsor), email sponsorship, category exclusivity online or in print, sponsored content like blog posts, polls, etc. These opportunities are out there and some media companies, like us, are shifting to accommodate.
4. Call to Action 
You want your advertising to result in products sold. (Don’t we all?) Give your audience a sense of urgency of why they need your product. Do this with limited-time offers or exclusive discounts. However, remember tip 1. Gen Z grew up with all the “tricks” - countdown clocks, take-away strategies, and absolutes like “never going to be offered again” are part of what fuels the Gen Z skepticism. Offer discounts, coupons, and even limited-time offers, but be transparent about it.  Tell them why and tell the truth.  This generation is entrepreneurial, they are not offended by businesses selling, they just want the value to be real.
5. History Repeats Itself

What’s worked in the past? Gen Z is responsive to traditional ads. It may be time to dust off the old 3 ring binders. Tapping into some old advertising methods that worked with Boomers will have a better response.  Think direct mail, print ads, billboards, meetups (although with Gen Z, meetups should have a big draw [think celebrity], be online, or in an app), and events.
What’s not working?  A lot of the techniques used primarily on Millennials. Things like pop-ups or pop-overs, annoying and boring static banners (FYI: humourous and fun are working), and drawn out sales pages.  When you get them to click on your ad, take them where they want to go.
6. Sell an Excellent Product or Service

Word of mouth also fits into the above tip and is effective, but see tip 9 if you plan on this to be your only source of advertising. Word of mouth has been taken up a notch since the world of Instagram and SnapChat came around. Gen Z enjoys sharing their experiences on social media (and in person). Make this easy for them (and a super secret tip - reward them for doing it).
FYI: 40% of Gen Z say they give feedback often, and the most popular method they use is writing reviews on retailer websites.
7. Multi Channel Advertising
There is no shortage of channels to place advertisements. Print, digital, websites, email, video, and on and on. What channels work the best? Which modes are Gen Z paying attention to and not ignoring? Below you’ll find graphics of where your audience has a positive reaction to print and digital advertisements.

Gen Z Digital Advertisement response

8. Not a One Way Street
Gen Z wants to be engaged with brands, like they want to be engaged with friends. Chatting and hanging out online with your audience allows you to reach them like their friends do. Ask for their opinions, not just on your product, but on what they’re currently doing. What TV shows are they watching? Where are they spending their free time? What are they learning about in school? What do they think of your advertising?

9. Be in control of your image and your own Brand

Do not solely depend on “influencers” or social media. Anyone other than you may not deliver your message as you planned. Remember this generation is tech savvy, they know how to cut and paste to suit their needs. If you are solely dependant on social media and word of mouth, you’re allowing your brand to be shaped and delivered by people who do not have your company's best interest in mind when sharing.  “Free advertising” might just be the most expensive Ad spend of your career.

10. Stretch Before the Marathon
With as skeptical as Gen Z is to advertising, test your advertising with this audience on several platforms before plunging in. Use a versatile platform with a large audience and multiple channels for delivery that will let you change up ads frequently.  Engage with a group that can help with holding a focus group about your ads, or even an online survey.  Is your messaging doing what you thought it would? This will not only allow you to see if your marketing tactics are working, but it will allow for constructive feedback for sending your advertisements into the world!


Gen Z is skeptical about advertisements, but that is not to say that they are “anti-advertising.”  They want the advertising to be a part of the experience, just like they want the buying experience to be a part of the product. They are the first truly digital generation, but in an interesting twist, they are more like the late Gen X and Baby Boomer generations having similar values, work ethic, and attitudes. However, they are their own generation with a unique point of view about the world and its people.
Advertising to Gen Z is tricky, they are harder to reach, but worth the effort.  They are the biggest single spending group and will control 40% of all the consumer spending in the next 3 years. Every industry will benefit from gaining the trust of this generation.  
And, if you are the Brand they know and trust in your industry, you are leaps and bounds ahead of your competition!


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Surprising Industries Marketing to Gen Z! 

As the most ethnically diverse generation so far, Gen Z is also the most adaptable generation. They’re having influence on everything from restaurants to property managers. It’s not just teen products, brands, and industries that need to market to Gen Z, but all products, brands, and industries that should market to Gen Z; if they want success in 2017 and beyond.
Growing up in economic distress has encouraged this generation to think about money from a different perspective (not seen since the boomers). Spending will be measured and conservative. And because of their relationship with technology since they came out of the womb, their researching and authenticating skills are something Millennials and Gen X didn’t gain until their high school/college years.
When you think of this generation, you may not associate them with industries like hotels, property managers, automobiles, restaurants, banks, furniture makers, and home builders; or corporate focused companies like IBM, Forbes, and Nielson who are doing year-long research and surveys on this generation. However, many of these “odd” industries are already marketing to Gen Z and for great reasons. Products, brands, and industries have been focused on Millennials for quite some time now, however it would behoove you to shift your focus to Gen Z, also known as the generation who will make up over 40% of the world’s spending power by 2020. Below, we’ll shed some light on just a few of the “odd” industries who are making the shift to Gen Z marketing. 


Gen Z is pragmatic, more cautious, and more globally minded than Millennials. Even though the eldest members of Gen Z are just starting their sophomore year of college, their size (70 million and growing), estimated spending power ($200 billion annually), and influence on household spending makes it incredibly important for marketers in every industry, especially hospitality, to focus on Gen Z. As you know, it’s never too early to start building brand loyalty.
“Age is irrelevant,” Melanie Shreffler, senior editorial director at Cassandra Report, shares. “They [Gen Z] already have money of their own and even if they aren’t doing the actual booking, they are highly influential. Never underestimate them and their needs. Know that their parents treat them as young adults from an early age, and they see themselves as that. Welcome them as just another consumer, and think about those motivations. They’re highly tech-focused, and they value individuality. The companies that recognize them specifically, and talk to them will matter.”
Gen Z might not have credit cards to pay for vacations, but Gen Z is influencing framily travel decisions. “Maybe an eight-year-old isn’t doing the exact booking, but you’d be surprised to know how many parents ask them to weigh in,” adds Shreffler.


According to a report by IBM for Business Value in association with the National Retail FederationGen Z has a 63% influence on where their family eats out, and a 77% influence on food and beverage choices. This influence extends to evaluation of the restaurant, food, and beverages, to post-purchasing activities, for example if the family is likely to return to that restaurant or order the same meal again.
Restaurants like #getfried Fry Cafe in Buffalo, NY, who was consciously marketing to Millennials has now taken a huge shift to Gen Z. Using pop culture to attract Gen Z, for example using the hit movie Finding Dory in social media campaigns. #getfried Fry Cafe has also involved Gen Z with the restaurant, with contests like ‘Name-Your-Own-Fry-Basket’ which really resonated with the younger generation. #getfried Fry Cafe is directly marketing to Gen Z (many of whom can’t even drive themselves to the restaurant), in order to bring in Gen Z and their families.

Property Managers

Another “odd” industry that’s planning for Gen Z is property managers. Interesting right? There are many characteristics that property managers are already considering when planning for Gen Z and the future of renting and home buying. And we’re not only talking about the older group of Gen Z, but the younger ones who aren’t renting or buying any time soon.
Firstly, technology is part of Gen Z’s everyday lives, meaning cell phones, tablets, wifi, cable, the list goes on and on, meaning apartments and homes need to be adapted to all of these technologies. Secondly, Gen Z will not write checks. In the world of debit and credit cards, you’re not going to find the younger generation whipping out their checkbooks anytime soon. So, property managers (and all industries) should invest in online or digital payment systems. As previously mentioned, Gen Z has been doing their research since infancy. 75% of Millennials researched a property before renting or buying, so imagine what the percentage will be when Gen Z rents or buys! This is also a great opportunity for property owners to put testimonials, appointment scheduling, and online chatting onto their websites to ensure constant connection with their future renters and buyers.
This connectivity Gen Z constantly wants is extremely important and should be taken into consideration by any industry looking to gain skeptical Gen Z’s trust!


Gen Z is looking forward to growing up and becoming valued members of society. This means they’re exciting and willing to purchase automobiles. According to Kelly Blue Book and Autotrader, 92% of Gen Z plans to own a vehicle. And again, with all the research and reviews at their fingertips, they’re able to get all the information they need to purchase a car. However, this goes for any company. (We urge you to be transparent and upfront with Gen Z.) But what kinds of cars is Gen Z interested in? Well, we (once again) need to look at their characteristics and interests.
Gen Z cares about the environment, and are well aware of the harmful emissions that are given off by cars. So, they’re going to look for eco-friendly cars. This generation is practical (much like Boomers), where they’re looking for quality, not necessarily the brand, make, or model. Only 1% of Gen Z rates Tesla as a top brand car, and prefer Ford, Chevrolet, and Honda because of their traditional, practical, and trusted brands. A final characteristic we can look at is safety. Gen Z not only cares about the safety of themselves, but of their friends and family members, so they’re going to look for the safest option when buying a vehicle.

Are you making the shift to Gen Z?

So, to wrap all this up in a neat package. If these industries are already making huge investments into marketing and appealing to this generation, are you missing the boat?  Regardless, if you think your product is “for the parents” or that the parents are making all the decisions for the generation; think again.Failing to reach this generation directly is failing to reach one of the most influential “research” tools in any parent's arsenal.
Gen Z is going to do the research (for themselves and their family members) of brands that provide all of the characteristics we mentioned above. Whether that be a restaurant offering a great deal, a new apartment that comes with amenities and online payment options, a car that’s reliable and isn’t bad for the environment, or even the hotel being considered for the family vacation. Before completing your marketing strategy, think about including Gen Z and their massive amount of influence on family spending.


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A Glimpse into The Mind of Gen Z

With dozens of articles about Gen Z focusing on everything from their shopping habits to tips on marketing to them, it’s time to understand them as people, as well as customers. It is important to remember that they are not Millennials. They’ve grown up with economic distress, computers in their pockets, and are constantly exposed to information, which has shaped them into a very unique generation. Understanding their well-being, values, morals, and what they see for their future, as well as, the future for the globe, is all valuable information.


Growing up in a world where there’s daily violence on the news makes us wonder, how happy is Gen Z? Overall, they’re a pretty happy generation, about 59% of them consider themselves to be happy. And it’s not being financially stable that makes them happy, like you would think.

According to The Varkey Foundation, living in a relatively economically stable and developed country doesn't necessarily equal happiness. Feeling healthy (physically and mentally) are big factors in their overall happiness, followed by family relationships. Physical healthiness, mental healthiness, and positive family relationships are key to their happiness

While we consider what makes them happy, we should also take a look at their pain points and what makes them anxious or uneasy. Money and school pressures top the list of sources of anxiety for Gen Z, followed by health and family. (See ‘Their Future’ section to see how their happiness coincides with their plans for their futures.) What makes them happy can also be the sole source of their unhappiness.

Values & Morals

When you were growing up, where did you get your personal values from? Initially that was probably your parents, and that eventually stemmed to friends, colleagues, maybe even famous athletes, politicians, or celebrities; in other words people you were exposed to over time.

For Gen Z it’s slightly the same case Their biggest influencers are their parents and friends followed by teachers, books, and faith. However, Gen Z does not place a lot of their influence in celebrity status or fame. They are aware of the negativity that comes from the media, so they’re skeptical of individuals on television or the internet

We can also take into consideration that Gen Z develops their own values through the constant source of information at their fingertips, i.e trending topics. Topics like gender equality (89% of Gen Z believe men and women should be treated as equals), transgendered rights (74% believe transgendered individuals should have the same rights), and abortion (66% believe safe abortion should be available to women). And these stats are worldwide

67% of Gen Z say, contributing to society is important to them. And they feel they’re not contributing as much as they should because of lack knowledge to get involved/make a difference and the skills to actually take action. Another factor in their lack of contribution is not enough free time and more confidence to contribute.

Their (Our) Future

Gen Z is a group of big thinkers of not only their future, but the overall future of the world. When planning for their future they’re considering their families first. This self-starter generation is thinking of their future careers, and are most worried about having the developed skills to do so, and what kind of money they’ll be making. They are extremely aware of the work necessary and have a willingness to put in the effort to live a financially stable life.

Gen Z is a little skewed on their thoughts on the future of society. Extremism and the rise of global terrorism, conflict and war, and lack of access of education to children make them extremely fearful of the future. Simultaneously, they feel inspired by the advancement of technology, and do see an increase in global educational opportunities. (Click through graphics below.)

This generation has surprised us already, and they’re not slowing down in the future. Gen Z is unlike any generation before them, it seems they have taken what has worked with previous generations and applied it to themselves. For example, developing purchasing practices like the Baby Boomers, and technology expertise of Millennials. As Gen Z grows up, what does this look like for your brand or product?

If you’re interested in learning more about Gen Z and how they’re impacting brands and products today (and in the future), join in on the conversation with The Gen Z Forum | The Group for Professional Marketers, Product & Brand Managers over at Linkedin.


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Effective Advertising for Gen Z

Gen Z will make up 40% of the world’s spending power by 2020 (the clock is ticking); and they’re developing brand relationships and loyalty now, if they haven’t formed them already. Will you have your cut of their spending by 2020? How about your cut of the $44 billion in spending power they currently wield? How do you get the upper hand over your competitors? How do you reach them?

Questions haunting the minds of C Suite Executives and small business owners a like.  But reaching them and market share aside,  you still have to impact this generation in a way that encourages them to activate and make their “value based” spending decisions in favor of your brands and products.

In this short article, we are talking about ad construction and why it is important to recognize how different this generation is from previous ones.  In future articles and emails (sign up for our Gen Z emails here), we are also including the thoughts and strategies of other Gen Z experts to round out and provide insights for you.

First, let’s understand what Gen Z is looking for in ads.

Like any brand or product, you want the advertisements that will not only attract and engage Gen Z, but entice them enough to purchase. However, this audience is skeptical of advertisements and has been trained to ignore ads. So what works?

30,000 foot explanation: Gen Z is looking for convenience, entertainment, transparency, and a deal in their advertisements. They also want to feel like you are talking to them (not their parents) specifically as consumers and most importantly, they do not want to feel duped when they start the shopping experience. In their minds, ads are part of the shopping experience, not just awareness of the products.  

What is Gen Z looking for (and not looking for) in advertisements?

Gen Z wants excitement, and are always ready for change. Having various versions of ads is key, and placing them in different channels will attract and stick with them. You should always be updating your ads on different channels, so Gen Z doesn’t become immune and numb to your advertisements.

For TV, digital banners, and video you need to avoid their skipping (3 seconds is all you get). Grab their attention with engagement style ads, like asking for them to participate by providing their opinions.  Spark their curiosity and/or make them laugh. Remember their humor is “YouTube” humor (i.e talking oranges, grumpy cats, and animations). But, don’t forget what interests them as well. Some of the most popular videos on Youtube for this generation is “unboxing” and “real people stories”. They’ll be more enticed, and also more likely to share with friends and family. With all the click baiting in the world, don’t try this with Gen Z.  They are way more adept at identifying this than you or I ever were.  

For other avenues of advertising (yes, there are others) such as print, direct mail, and even billboards, which are very effective with this generation.  You have to be willing to get out of your comfort zone and think bold colors and transparent messaging.  For Gen Z, real and vulnerable is the new cool.  

Just showing images of your product and expecting this to inspire Gen Z to rush off to the store is not going to be as effective as you may hope. Remember, in-store shopping is the preference of this generation. You have to think entertainment and experiential, but also how this product might support them in their lives or how they can improve their peer status.  We will talk more about their peer status and what that means in future articles.  

The call to action needs to be clear. This group is skeptical of advertisements, but that doesn’t mean that they do not want to be advertised to.  What they do not want in advertisements is deception or clever ruses.  Being upfront and transparent means being unafraid to to be real with them.

Gen Z is not ignorant about business; they are surprisingly entrepreneurial and understand that to make money you must sell your product and work hard to make your business a success.  They relate to this, because they believe they must work hard to be successful and earn their way.  (We love this generation!)

Be creative and bold with your ads, make your messaging clear and relatable, and be willing to put yourself out there a bit, this generation is willing to go there with you if they believe you.  

Lastly, be open to including your “cause marketing” aspects to all of your advertisements in all of your channels.  This is a generation of awareness, they are very in-tune with what is happening in the world.  The good, the bad, and the ugly and they want to help. Varkey Foundation reports, that over two thirds of Gen Z think that helping society, beyond themselves and their family, is extremely important.

Gen Z wants to be involved in your brand and products, so let them. And, remember this is not a generation of sheltered children; as true digital natives and little memory of life without a touch screen, they are aware and unafraid. 84% of Gen Z are hopeful for the future because of technological advancements. They are arguably the most powerful influencing and spending group on the planet.

Check back here soon, where we will talk with other experts and get a bit more technical with the construction of ads as well as how to dominate the mind-share of this skilled audience and their 8-second attention span.


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How to Talk to Your Newest Friend, Gen Z! 

We may be older and have had more experiences than Gen Z, but just like great communication with our children, we cannot talk to them as such. What do I mean by this? Well, let’s take some of your closest friends. When you’re speaking with such friends, are you honest and funny? Do you talk to them about topics that interest or relate to them? Do you try to find a common interest with them? Do you enjoy telling stories to and hearing stories from them? Are you willing to be open and vulnerable?

I hope you answered ‘yes’ to all of these questions because that’s exactly how you should speak to and treat Gen Z. I hope you enjoy your new friendship because they’re quite needy when it comes to what they’re looking for in brands.

Transparency, Truthfulness, and Vulnerability

When spending time with a close friend, you’re not going to hide anything from them because frankly, they always know when you are. Right? The same goes for Gen Z. If you try and hide or avoid something with them, they will find out and it will tarnish that friendship, also known as the brand relationship.

Treat them as Equals

As previously mentioned, we are older than Gen Z but we shouldn’t treat them as such. Remember, they have thoughts and ideas of their own (and separate from their parent’s). When advertising and marketing to Gen Z, you should always speak directly to them; meaning market and advertise in a voice relatable to them and, of course, on their specified channels (not just digital) and not their parent’s channels.

You will conquer two things when marketing on Gen Z’s preferred channels. One, you will develop your “friendship” with Gen Z. Two, if they enjoy what you have to say, Gen Z will transfer that influence onto their family members. Gen Z has over a 70% influence on family purchases!

Entertaining Conversations

This sounds like a given, but it’s too important of a factor to skip over. When chatting with a close friend you want them to be engaged, and you’re looking for a response. How do you keep the conversation going or get the response you want? Make the conversation bold, attractive, and you might even throw in some humor. Now that Gen Z is your close friend, this is how you should speak with them through advertisements, email campaigns, social media, etc.

Think bold colors, attractive and unique designs, and be funny without trying too hard. Being conversational is a great way to not only interact with your newest friend, but get a response from them. That response could be a repost of an advertisement on social media, Gen Z telling a friend or family member about you, or a follow through with a purchase.  A key point to remember is that for Gen Z, advertisements are not just awareness, but they are part of the buying experience.


Gen Z is aware of the plethora of issues that are going on in the world, and they want to help. And they have plenty of interests that make them unique. Wouldn’t you help a close friend with an issue or cause they care about? Would you talk about topics that interest them? Yes, of course! Now it’s time to do the same for your newest friend, Gen Z. Whether that be donating proceeds to a charity, putting out an announcement that your company or brand is volunteering for a cause, or just releasing a social media post that sparks a conversation about a Gen Z related topic, these are all ways you can relate to Gen Z.

Peer Recognition

As Gen Z is digitally engaged, they are browsing social media, doing comparison shopping (link to compare shop article), and like most of us, they’re interacting with friends. Gen Z wants that recognition, opinions, and even approval from their peers. If Gen Z comes across something that entertains, attracts, or interest them, they are 67% more likely to share with friends. Thus, beginning that viral sharing and word of mouth, which has never steered any brand wrong. Gen Z has their own interests, but they discover these interests from peers. Friends are one of Gen Z’s biggest influencers!


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How Gen Z Defines Themselves

There's been a lot of defining Gen Z over the past few weeks, but we would be remiss if we left out how Gen Z define themselves. It goes far beyond their age, because let’s face it they’re way more informed, more mature, and “grown up” than we ever were at their age. We need to stop looking at them as potentially the biggest consumer base ever, and more as individuals. Yes, each member of Gen Z have lots in common like their interests in social media and entrepreneurship, but they want to be viewed as individuals first and they are willing to earn their recognition.

Gen Z & Millennials… Different & Similar

Gen Z relates with Millennials for a few reasons. First, their closeness in age. Gen Z was born on the heels of Millennials, making them similar in digital and social trends. However, their values are those of Baby Boomers and Gen X. Gen Z are traditionalists with a flair. They have a traditional outlook on life and work ethic, but their beliefs and values are more liberal and open minded.

According to Boston Consulting Group (BCG) research, Gen Z is less likely to consume alcohol underage, use drugs, smoke, and participate in unprotected and premarital sex. However, they will openly discuss such topics, as well as unplanned pregnancy, sexual orientation, gender equality, gun control, etc. They are having groundbreaking conversations at an earlier age than you’d expect, whether that be with their peers or online. They respect their peers and the choices that others make because, hey, it’s 2017 and anything can happen. With their liberal acceptance, your choices are your's and that’s OK.

Another key thought is their perception. Keep in mind, what was once novel to Millennials (and Gen X) (IE: new tech, apps, online data) is Gen Z’s expectation; and what was once the mainstay for previous generations (IE: print magazines, billboards, direct mail) is the new novelty for Gen Z. Gotta love how history repeats itself.

They’re still defining themselves, but with core values.

Gen Z considers themselves honest, loyal, and achievement seekers. Even though Gen Z is still determining their role and “figuring themselves out,” they’re ready to work and prove themselves. Personal success and independence are key aspects to their futures. If you recall, this generation has never been in a world that’s not recovering from 2008's recession. This focal generation has a much more practical lense on life compared to Millennials. FutureCast reports that 69% of Gen Zers believe that becoming successful has nothing to do with luck; it’s up to them.

What are they passionate about?

As previously mentioned, Gen Z is ready to talk about important topics like equality. This is a huge defining factor for this generation. Equality is a must in their world. According to FutureCast, "Gen Z rallies behind racial equality (72%), gender equality (64%), and sexual orientation equality (48%)." Getting involved in social activism at a young age is much more common among Gen Z, than any other generation before. Just recently, Upworthy reported on 8-year-old Katherine (Yes, 8!) who gave animal shelter donations instead of receiving birthday presents.

The number of politically and socially engaged tweens and teens are at an all time high. These are individuals that can’t even register to vote yet! The main reason for this increase is because they have access to endless resources of information and endless platforms to voice their opinions.

Each member of the Gen Z population is unique. This generation embraces those who are different and one-of-a-kind, so in return they’re ready to show off their differences. Inclusion is in this generation's blood.

Key Takeaways

  • Gen Z are not Millennials; don’t treat or market to them as such.
  • Traditionalists, but with a twist
  • Honest & loyal to those who demonstrate the same to them
  • Entrepreneurial tendencies and an “it’s up to me” mentality
  • Equality is a must
  • Constantly politically and socially engaged
  • Uniqueness, yet inclusion is a must

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What is Brand Experience? Why Does Gen Z Need it?

What is brand experience? According to Columbia University, brand experience is “conceptualized as sensations, feelings, cognitions, and behavioral responses evoked by brand-related stimuli that are part of a brand's design and identity, packaging, communications, and environments.” Simple, right? Not so much. Brand experience is like any experience in that it’s different for everyone. 75,000 people attend an NFL football game, you’ll end up with 75,000 different brand experiences. Each football fan, has an expectation before going to the game, they have some sort of experience while there, and they even have a post game behavior. i.e will they return?

All this brand experience all starts with you: the marketer, the advertiser, and the brand. For Gen Z, brand experience begins as soon as they’re aware of your product and long after. Grabbing that attention is step one to a slew of brand experience steps to follow. Remember to grab Gen Z’s attention, find channels where you can get some exclusive or focused attention, have that sense of urgency, and always remember that multichannel exposure is key. Also be sure to have a story behind your brand, and tell that story throughout all forms of advertisements.

Gen Z's Brand Experience 

When defining brand experience for Gen Z, it’s more of a general definition rather than a specific one. Columbia University mentions “sensations, feelings, cognitions, and behavioral responses,” meaning that excitement when they walk into a store (or search online) and see your product (this could also mean some disappointment as well). Then, they go through that thought process of why they enjoy and would consider purchasing your product (or not) and that follow through with some sort of response, whether that be purchasing on the spot, continuing to search, or finding it somewhere cheaper. And finally, that post purchase behavior like leaving a review online, answering a survey, or the return to purchase another product.

Comparison shopping is definitely a part of Gen Z’s brand experience. 100% of Gen Z will browse at least one website while in a retail store to find a better price and value. When shopping and/or browsing, Gen Z wants their brand experience to be customizable, in that they can pick and choose how they want to interact with a product or brand (remember, this is before purchasing and after). For example, Apple stores allow their shoppers to have a customizable brand experience. They allow shoppers to interact with lots of products before purchasing, and they offer ways to customize their purchased product. After purchasing, Apple has a great reputation for assisting customers in troubleshooting purchased products and even offer classes to teach customers how to use that product.

Gen Z doesn’t know any different when it comes to post purchasing behavior.

They’re always receiving notifications on apps to make a review, getting emailed surveys, etc. Offering extended warranties, discounts on future purchases, asking for feedback, showing and educating more on your brand, and even flexible return policies are all great ways to continue that brand experience well after purchasing.

Gen Z is looking for this brand experience because they want value. They have that Boomer mentality and want more than just the product. Like Baby Boomers, Gen Z considers more than just price as a part of the brand experience, it is the experience and they want something that they can keep and is dependable. They are so much like Boomers, according to Newsweek, this generation is already saving for retirement; and if they’re not already saving they have big plans to do so. Value = Experience.

Experience and quality are top priorities for Gen Z when it comes to anything they do. Experience starts long before purchasing and continues long after. Constant engagement and experience is something Gen Z is expecting from you.


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Gen Z: The Instant Gratification Generation 

For Gen Z, it’s all about instant. Instant entertainment, instant service, instant communication, and above all, instant gratification. They live for convenience more than any generation before. They’ve grown up in a world where they can get 2-day shipping and answers with a few touches on a smartphone. Make no mistake, Gen Z is not lazy, and technology is not a luxury. It’s a tool and it’s second nature. Technology is a way they can not only get answers, but a way to interact with friends and brands.

They live in a world of SnapChat, Facebook Live, virtual reality, and infinite other options to receive that instant gratification. Gen Z is consuming information, interacting with friends, and getting entertainment at rapid speeds. The key to reaching this generation is to be able to reach them quickly and efficiently, like they’re used to or to provide them with a “novelty”. But, how?

Simplicity is essential.

Anything they’re interacting with must be clean and uncluttered, whether that be an advertisement in their favorite magazine or shopping in stores and online (Remember, they’re doing both!). Gen Z is more likely to ignore or block something if they feel it is hard to use or too confusing. This a self-reliant generation, so chances are if they can’t figure something out on their own, they’re going to move on. Young females want to see and interact with products before buying them, and males want the convenience to get products as quickly as possible. This goes for in-stores and online. Make things simple and easy. According to Information Age, eight out of ten Gen Zers expect apps to work in 3 seconds or less, and they switch devices and platforms up to 27 times an hour.

As you’ve heard us talk about in the past, Gen Z loves customization. But again, they want that customization easy and fast. Let’s take a look at SnapChat. This is an app that is completely customizable to the user; knowing the user’s friends, how many SnapChats they’ve sent, where they’re spending time, and of course, the endless filters users can take advantage of.

The Virtual Reality Generation

Virtual reality is another technology that is booming with the Gen Z audience. They’re starting to explore VR content from YouTube that allows them to experience new worlds. VR allows users to customize their experience; they can go wherever, see whatever, and do whatever they want. This is taking that gaming-like experience to the next level.

Allow your Gen Z consumers to go wherever, see whatever, and do whatever they want when shopping and interacting with you. Or better yet, offer them the opportunity to see or experience something new.

As Gen Z starts to adapt VR and other technologies into their everyday lives, they’re shopping expectations will evolve. Gen Z are true digital natives. Change and innovation is the expectation and they will leverage and adapt to the new tools faster than any generation prior. Remember not to avoid these trends! Technology is the norm. Once you engage with these trends, technology, and customization, Gen Z will likely embrace you and your brand.

But remember, their values and traditional thinking is similar to Boomers, so in the effort to move at their pace, avoid the temptation to solely focus on digital.  They are ingenious at avoiding and skipping digital if it is not something they immediately recognize or trust, so leverage traditional tools as well!


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5 Gen Z Myths: Exposed!

Even though there seems to be endless information on Gen Z, we’re all just scratching the surface on this generation. There’s so much more to be discovered as they blossom into functioning members of society and that massive spending power the world has been waiting for. Below, we’re debunking some of the myths on Gen Z. And not the “myths” you’ve already heard of like “They’re nothing like Millennials” or “They’re self-involved.” We’re here to scratch the surface a little more on the unique generation.

Myth 1: More information sources the better.
As you know, Gen Z enjoys to surf the web for entertainment, branded content, and information. However, when it comes to gaining information, they want it quick, simple, and from a reliable source. We live in a world where the words “fake news” are thrown around, and this generation is looking for information sources that they can rely on. They don’t want to waste their time looking through endless news and information sources. They also appreciate those sources that provide everything they want (news, entertainment, & information) in one simple package. Convenience is what they’re after.

TIP 1: This goes for what they’re looking for in brands as well. They want a reliable brand they can return to time and time again; and they can trust that they’re not going to be fed false or misleading information.

Myth 2: They hide behind their screens and avoid face-to-face communication.
Just because they enjoy their screens doesn’t mean they’re going to hide behind them. They’ve never known a world without iPads and virtual reality. Millennials brought technological advances into the world, and now Gen Z is ready to balance that along with face-to-face communication. According to a leading provider of global Enterprise Communications as a Service (ECaaS), Gen Z values face-to-face communication more than any other generation.

TIP 2: Talk to Gen Z. Ask for their opinion and recommendations; whether that be in store as they’re checking out your products or in a video review of your product. They want to talk (and be heard) particularly when interacting with peers and store associates (think experiential, not just efficiency).

Myth 3: They do not care and are lazy.
This is one of the biggest myths associated with Gen Z. They do care about the overall well-being of not only their everyday world, but the world of others. And they’re ready to work hard and give back to make a difference. According to non-profit, The Varkey Foundation, Gen Z are big thinkers of their future. They’re already taking the steps to develop their skills for their future careers. 67% of Gen Z say it’s important to contribute to society, but feel they’re not doing as much as they should. They care and want to develop skills, and they’re ready to help.

TIP 3: When marketing to Gen Z, help further their passions and show them that YOU care about the well-being of the world as well. Find out what your cohort of Gen Z is interested in, and make that your newest passion.

Myth 4: They’re too young to have any impact.
False. Everyday there are young minds who are doing good, starting business, and influencing others. We always seem to have negative things to say about technology and social media, but because of these tools Gen Z has been able to reach people they never could before. They have access to endless tools and tricks that allow them to get a jump start on their impact. And let’s not forget to mention their $44 billion in personal spending power! If that’s not saying ‘impact,’ we don’t know what will. According to the National Retail Foundation, 24% of Gen Z work part-time, 59% receive an allowance, 22% make money online, and 16% are already working for themselves! Watch out world, here comes Gen Z.

TIP 4: Embrace the technology advancements that are happening around us. They’re not going to be thrown off if you give them something new. Trust us, they’re expecting it. Gen Z is using these advancements to reach endless individuals, be sure to meet Gen Z in the middle to get your share of that $44 billion (and the $600 billion they influence).

Myth 5: Digital is the only way to reach Gen Z.
Gen Z is spending 25% of their free time reading books, magazines, and newspapers (Yes, you read that right; print!). Digital is an awesome (and cheap) tool to take advantage of. However, Gen Z is prone to avoiding and skipping your digital ads. To have a bigger impact on Gen Z, it’s all about the physical form of communication. Similar to their interaction with shopping in stores, they want to see it, feel it, and interact with it. Traditional forms of media are a novelty to this generation. Billboards, direct mail, magazines, etc. cannot be left out when reaching Gen Z.

TIP 5: Multi-channel options are your best bet when trying to hone in Gen Z’s short attention. A common thread across everything they’re interacting with on a daily basis is key. This generation is switching screens, reading magazines, chatting with friends, going to the movies, shopping… the list goes on and on. Follow them wherever they go.

To engage Gen Z like Millennials is a mistake. It’s time for a new approach because Gen is like no other generation before. They’re going to be a fresh and exciting group of consumers, employees, and members of society. Do not underestimate the true digital natives that see traditional media as interesting and a novelty.

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