Marketing to Generation Z: What Gen Z Wants You to Know

December 2 2019

Businesses’ marketing strategies for young adults are dramatically shifting, and that’s because today’s young adults are no longer Millennials: they’re Generation Z.

To fill the generation gap – and take advantage of the varied backgrounds and ages of staff in house at The Castle Group in Boston – we took an authentic approach and involved Castle’s Gen Zers to better understand what they expect from marketing aimed at them. Here are their insights:


What is Generation Z?

Although the start date for Gen Z is up for debate, demographers and researchers consider anyone born from 1997 onward to be part of Gen Z due to key political, economic, and social factors that define the Millennial generation’s formative years. Since the memory of 9/11 shaped Millennials, a good way to determine if a person is a Gen Zer is whether or not they remember the attacks. If someone does not have a personal memory of that day, he or she is not a Millennial!

There are more than 23 million Gen Zers in the United States and in the next few years, they will be entering the workplace and marketplace in growing numbers. With a buying power of $44 billion alone, $600 billion when taking into consideration the influence on parents’ spending, this young generation is one of the most powerful consumer forces in the market today.

The Gen Z Marketing Challenge

Marketing to Generation Z is very different from marketing to Millennials. This generation grew up with an iPhone and an Instagram account made in sixth grade or earlier.

Since Gen Z grew up on the internet, they are largely influenced by what they see online. Gen Z doesn’t just view media; they like to create their own content and collaborate with others. Because of this, social media is a tool that all businesses should be utilizing when marketing to this generation.

Roughly 70 percent of Generation Z spends two hours or more on YouTube a day and Gen Z trusts YouTube ads more than any other source. Companies can benefit greatly by having their own YouTube channels or by paying for advertisements.

Influencers are also an effective way to reach Generation Z. Forty-five percent of Gen Z follow more than 10 online influencers. Generation Z wants personalized experiences online, and when their favorite Instagram model or YouTube daily vlogger talks about a product, they are more likely to listen. Companies that pay for ads from influencers will have better luck reaching Gen Zers than those who do not.

Characteristics of Gen Z

Generation Z seeks meaningful interactions and values authenticity. They take pride in having a voice and want to get involved with their favorite brands. In response, many companies have started brand ambassador programs so that Gen Zers can feel like they are personally a part of the company.

A characteristic shared by many Gen Zers is a desire to personally and positively change the world. Members of this generation are very concerned about the environment and aren’t afraid to speak up. They see themselves as the generation who will fix issues such as climate change and inequality.

So how does all this information help with marketing to Generation Z?

To gain Gen Zers’ loyalty, companies should make their brands more personal. One way to do this is by highlighting the entrepreneurs who started the business to give a face to the brand. Brands should focus on ideals of empowerment, creativity and individuality.

All companies marketing to Gen Z should be demonstrating how they are making a positive impact on the world. This generation will turn its back on any business believed to be creating too much waste or harming the environment.

One of the most important aspects of marketing to Generation Z is having a purpose-led brand. Businesses can partner with a nonprofit either by donating their product, a portion of their profits, or their time through volunteering. Explaining how products are made in an ecofriendly way will go far with gaining the loyalty of Gen Z. This generation cares about Corporate Social Responsibility and wants to buy from companies who are working to improve the future of the World.

As Generation Z continues to grow, it will soon become the largest group of consumers in the marketplace. Companies that don’t understand Gen Z and align their marketing strategies to these tendencies do so at their own peril.


This blog post appeared in its original form on PRGN member agency The Castle’s Group’s own blog roll. See the full post here, offering more insights on the Gen Z subject.

Sandy Lish
Principal, Co-Founder, Marketing to Generation Z: What Gen Z Wants You to Know
It is entirely possible for me to listen to a conversation, have an idea, and share an insight almost simultaneously. I help my clients by focusing on connections… how they reach their audiences, how their audiences reach them, how my teams and I can facilitate those interactions. I’ve helped my clients grow and sell companies, acquire firms, improve valuation/stock price, gain market share, manage crises, perfect presentation skills, launch products and the list goes on. When I’m not working directly with clients, I’m growing Castle — developing partnerships, identifying marketing opportunities and building new client relationships. And when I’m not doing that, I’m out in the marketplace, representing Castle and our clients through our dedication to the community. PR is all about third-party credibility – so I must share some of our own accolades. We recently won a bronze Stevie Award for International PR Firm of the Year. I’ve been honored with the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce Pinnacle Award for Entrepreneurship, the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council Business Enterprise Star Award and the Center for Women and Enterprise Rising Star Award. I was also named a Boston Business journal “40 under 40″ (although I would no longer be eligible!). I serve on the boards of The Center for Women and Enterprise, March of Dimes and the Chief Executives Club of Boston. I’m especially proud to be state board chair for the March of Dimes and most recently was named to its national Volunteer Leadership Council. I also currently chair the WGBH Corporate Executive Council, serve on the Women’s Advisory Network of the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce and am a member of the Massachusetts Women’s Forum. When I’m not doing that? You might find me with my husband, rooting on my son or daughter at a hockey rink or lacrosse field, or walking my Whoodle. My favorite place to be is the beach – any beach with a great book and great company. What else do you want to know? Before Wendy and I founded Castle in 1996, I held in-house marketing positions at KPMG, Lesley University and the Massachusetts Bar Association, and was an executive at IQ&J, a premier Boston agency. I’ve worked on everything from pita chips to online travel to medical imaging to student lending. I grew up in Brookline, Mass. and am a proud alumna of UMass Amherst. Let me know if you have any questions.

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