Banks, post offices, make-up brands and a whole host of other companies are increasingly starting to target the Gen Z market. Whether you want to use a TikTok video or an Instagram story – the possibilities are endless. But who are Gen Z and what makes them different? Why should companies use targeted marketing for this target group, and what’s the best way to do this?
Gen Z are currently the most popular generation for companies to target. There is a whole host of channels companies can use to reach them, with Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest and TikTok being just the tip of the iceberg among the social media channels currently available, and whichever channel might be the next big thing. And companies are putting all their efforts into targeting their ads at this generation.
Gen Z includes anyone born between 1995 and 2010. Also referred to as ‘digital natives’ given the fact they have been strongly influenced by digitalisation, Simon Schnetzner’s ‘Young Germans’ study suggests anyone in Gen Z has five key characteristics.
This generation also exhibits less loyalty towards an employer, places huge importance on the work-life balance, believes that their job should have a sense of purpose and be fun, and has high expectations when it comes to modern equipment and the internet connection in their workplace. Furthermore, most Gen Z-ers hold the topic of sustainability close to their hearts. “Gen Z-ers are innovative and love anything that makes life easier”, says Max Klockenhoff, former YouTuber and now Co-Founder of the social media agency Gen-Up.
“This generation is, in all likelihood, the most diverse target group there has ever been”, adds Klockenhoff. There are therefore many issues that divide opinion within the Gen Z community.
Companies should do so, first and foremost, because they are future customers. According to Klockenhoff, a decision on a favourite car brand is taken before the age of 25. “The decision as to which brand we will buy later in life, or where, has already been made”, confirms Klockenhoff. This generation is now entering the job market, so that explains the huge drive on employer branding. In addition, Gen Z-ers make up a large proportion of the population in Switzerland, at 1.4 million. Worldwide, the Gen Z population is estimated to be more than 2 billion people. Reaching out to Gen Z is vital in a forward-looking marketing strategy.
Gen Z-ers spend a lot of time online, and this trend is only increasing. “Anyone who doesn’t appear on the screen simply doesn’t exist to the youth of today”, says Klockenhoff. The Swiss JAMES study shows that mobile phone use at the weekends has almost doubled since 2018, coming in at five hours. This figure sits higher than the daily average of three hours during the week. For those wishing to offer targeted marketing to Gen Z-ers, social media platforms are the place to be.
And in Klockenhoff’s opinion, ads for Gen Z-ers must be authentic and fast-paced. They should send a message, but not be judgemental. The ads should also be tailored to the platform, with TikTok content tending to be funnier and faster than on Instagram, for example. Given that this generation is so diverse, the preferred type of ad will vary from product to product.
Social media platforms are the perfect place to make online ads a success. Social media marketing also offers many advantages. It is also the type of marketing with which Gen Z-ers are most easily reached. This also means that social media channels facilitate easy communication with customers, as they can use the instant messaging features, for example. Furthermore, it is highly likely that companies will have a greater reach on social media platforms and can therefore be exposed to more prospective customers.
A final advantage is that companies can maintain an overview of their reach. Unlike a physical ad in a train station, the data on social media can be tracked, and companies can see how many and which type of people the ad reached, who reacted to it, and much more.
Whether they are on TikTok or Instagram, many companies now have brand ambassadors to market their content. It’s no surprise then, that these ambassadors are often Gen Z-ers themselves. Does that have to be the case, though? “I wouldn’t say so”, says Klockenhoff. “It’s obvious that many companies engage someone from Gen Z as they are more familiar with the technology and are more at ease standing in front of a camera.”
There are, however, many creators who do not belong to Generation Z. They have also been accepted into the community as they are in the position to generate targeted content. Klockenhoff backs this up: “You simply need someone who loves being in front of the camera and has great charisma. Anything else is a bonus.”
If a company is not on any social media platforms, they should first ask where they should start. “You shouldn’t start making content for Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube and TikTok all at the same time. Start with one platform before building up to content on other channels. Once you have one platform up and running, you can expand to the next one”, says Klockenhoff.