Your Brand Must Do This To Appeal To Gen Z
Updated: Jan 14
Ask someone outside of Generation Z their opinion on Gen Zers and you’ll get a myriad of answers. As a research marketer, I’ve heard some of the craziest, most comical, and quite frankly—daunting descriptions of Gen Zers from people outside of their age demographic.
Many of my fellow marketers say that Gen Zers (also referred to as Zoomers) are the most difficult and fickle generation to market due to their low attention spans—which may be caused by the prevalence of technology.
I’ve also heard test group participants, when asked, say that certain products wouldn’t appeal to Gen Zers because they wouldn’t understand the product (one of those products was a high powered blender…hey, I told you some of the answers were crazy).
The fact of the matter is that Gen Zers do require a different approach when it comes to marketing strategies and principles. Things that were not as important to previous generations are extremely important to Gen Zers. Here’s three things your brand must do to appeal to Gen Z.
If no element of a product or brand is shareable on social media, that product likely will not resonate with Gen Z. In other words, there must be something about your brand which the Zoomer believes will boost their social status if they share it on a social media platform.
In order for a brand to really appeal to Gen Z, it must be “Gram Worthy.” Which means that it’s deemed cool enough to be shared on Instagram. Whether it’s a funny commercial, a delicious looking meal, or a well-designed basketball shoe—it has to be something that’s perceived as a status-builder if it were shared on social media.
In their book, R.E.D. Marketing, authors and former Yum! Brands CEO Greg Creed and current Yum! Brands CMO Ken Muench, state, “In order for a social moment to win, it must give your consumers a bit of social capital, something they’d be proud to share at a party because only someone as dialed in as them would know about these things.”
Keeping this principle top-of-mind in every marketing meeting is essential to your creative approach towards appealing to Gen Z.
The great thing about a great product is that it’s not for everyone. This especially rings true when it comes to Gen Z. They’re far more likely to have affinity for products that are geared towards their likes and interests—so they can claim them as their own.
Despite what the title to this article may seem to suggest, Gen Zers are not a monolith. They do not all like the same things. And they certainly do not have the same belief systems.
However, as a collective—the vast majority of Zoomers do like to be part of certain groups. And the more exclusive that the group is—the better.
At the moment, Chick-fil-A is the most popular fast-food franchise in the U.S. amongst Gen Zers. One of the main reasons why the chain appeals to them is due to the fact that Chick-fil-A stands on its brand principles without compromising.
And Gen Z respects that. Which allows some Gen Zers to proudly boast to others that they're a Chick-fil-A type of person.
That's because Gen Zers appreciate brands that stick to their values and don’t capitulate. In other words, they appreciate brands that don't try to appeal to everyone.
For example, imagine a popular fast-food franchise that’s known for selling roast beef sandwiches; trying to jump on the vegan wave just to appeal to Gen Z. To do this, the franchise starts selling veggie burgers on its menu.
That brand would instantly lose credibility around the board with both the Gen Zers that love meat, as well as with Gen Z vegans it aimed to appeal to. Because a true vegan would never be caught in a fast-food restaurant whose slogan is, “We Have The Meats.”
In order for your brand to appeal to Gen Zers for an extended period of time, your brand must be extremely consistent. That’s because once Gen Zers discover and embrace your brand, they're more likely to share it with their friends. This means that they’ve now invested their social equity into the brand, which to them is just as valuable—if not more, than investing their cash.
Your brand must be consistent with the content that you previously produced which motivated them to share it with others in the first place. I often correlate marketing to music. Think of your brand’s consistency along the lines of the pop singer Adele’s brand.
Adele is one of the best-selling artists in the world and her next album is highly anticipated (as a fan, I’m certainly looking forward to hearing it). But if the first single from her next album is a dance song produced by Pharrell Williams, you can be assured that a great deal of her fans would be disappointed (the song would probably sound great though).
That’s because Adele’s fans have an expectation of hearing ballads from her since that’s what she’s consistently delivered to them over the years. Therefore, that’s what her fans have banked their social equity on every time that they’ve shared her music with their friends.
A flop for Adele is a loss for them. They have a vested interest in seeing her win. Which means she has to be consistent on her end in order to meet their standards of sharing.
The same logic applies to marketing your brand towards Gen Zers. Be consistent with what got you to the dance...and you won’t lose your partner.