Marketing to Gen Z: Unlocking Opportunities for Success

Marketing to Gen Z: Unlocking Opportunities for Success


Finding Generation Z

In a recent presentation on future audiences in marketing, I delved deep into Generation Z, taking the opportunity to reacquaint myself with their wants and needs. The findings were surprising, to say the least.

To gather valuable insights, I immersed myself in various tech websites and marketing podcasts that have honed in on Gen Z as a key consumer group. While some brands have long recognized the opportunities with Gen Z, others are just beginning to tap into this demographic. Of course, each brand's timing on this depends on the relevance of their product or service to Gen Z.

A wealth of information and opinions can be found on this topic. For a concise overview, I highly recommend Episode 10 of the CREATIVITY SUCKS podcast (produced by the ad industry trade magazine, Creative Review). It brilliantly addresses many notable points about Gen Z.

Let's recap the basics: Gen Z encompasses individuals born between 1997 and 2012. This group spans a broad range of economic, racial, and ethnic backgrounds, but the most defining factor is their upbringing in the internet era. This digital immersion significantly shapes their outlook on the world and their place within it.

Generational categorizations, although sometimes met with groans, offer valuable insights. They help us better understand people in general and enable researchers to monitor how formative experiences and societal shifts intersect with individuals' perspectives. It's important to note that being part of a group doesn't define a person entirely, but it serves as a starting point for understanding them.

For example, Baby Boomers witnessed the expansion of television, revolutionizing their connection to the world. Generation X experienced the rise of computers, while Millennials came of age during the internet explosion.

For Gen Z, it's crucial to recognize the impact of social media rise, which provides constant connectivity, on-demand entertainment, and communication in an "always-on" technological environment.

As a filmmaker, I believe it is essential to define your ideal audience. Understanding their interests enables you to create more profound and meaningful content. Without a target audience, how do you know what to create? How do you assess the quality of your work? What is the purpose of your film?

The more you know about your audience, the more effectively you can captivate them and achieve better returns for yourself or your clients.

For more on how to find your audience, read my post here.

3 Important characteristics of Gen Z

There are three aspects of Generation Z that I find particularly noteworthy. Firstly, they view the world with a relatively flat hierarchy. This outlook stems from the influence of their Millennial (or late Gen X) parents, who have initiated cultural conversations around race, gender stereotypes, pay gaps, and the role of work in their lives. Secondly, Millennials represent the most racially and ethnically diverse adult generation in history, and Gen Z surpasses them in diversity.

In today's evolving landscape, Gen Z's perception of brands has become multifaceted, thanks to their diverse access points through the internet and social media. This interconnectedness has fostered a democratic and conversational relationship between Gen Z consumers and the brands marketing to them.

A second essential characteristic of Gen Z is their astute understanding of the business dynamics behind the social content they consume. Unlike previous generations who embraced platforms like Facebook and Instagram in their nascent stages, only to later experience disillusionment, Gen Z was introduced to these platforms in their mature and monetized forms.

They recognize the grand agenda of these platforms, and their skepticism is at an all-time high.

For brands, this poses a significant challenge as they grapple with cultural shifts brought about by Gen Z. Brands must adapt to a new kind of consumer—more educated, discerning, and cynical than ever before. To succeed, brands must communicate realistic ideas, avoiding exaggerated aspirations that fail to fool anyone. Gen Z is known for their skepticism toward marketing tactics, so brands should strive for more courageous and honest communication.

A statistic that underscores Gen Z's mindset is that 75% of them believe brands should contribute to the community in some way.

Brands are expected to demonstrate conviction and clarity in their messaging, addressing political, ethical, and environmental concerns. Unlike the previous generation that was enticed with promises of personal improvement, Gen Z seeks to showcase their values through their purchases.

See my free PDF covering 100 years of advertising messages.

ESG-related projects are often promoted by brands, but their execution often feels contrived. Brands should refrain from engaging in charitable initiatives and social responsibility unless they are genuinely committed. Otherwise, it backfires and damages the brand's image.

Greenwashing, in particular, is worse than doing nothing at all.

In conclusion:

Brands must unequivocally display their moral stance. This is particularly challenging for the Swiss watch industry, with which I am intimately familiar. Simply claiming to remove plastic from the ocean is insufficient; consumers demand tangible efforts. Past disappointments have eroded trust, and now consumers require proof.

The key takeaway for me is that this new audience is demanding reasonable and long-overdue changes. Brands need to promptly realign their goals accordingly, starting with creating content that genuinely showcases their involvement.

Marketing managers should consider allocating a budget that encompasses both the active benefit of a partnership and the production of associated content. The reward and results will stem from utilizing funds to effect real change that gives back in some way, and then crafting compelling content around that.

If you would like further insights into how I have achieved this in the past for other brands or how Alpha Studio can assist you in executing a similar project, please don't hesitate to reach out to us at or contact me directly at

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