How to approach Gen Z with your communications strategy

Gen Z on Phones

One thing we often get asked about here at Canoe is, “how can my brand engage with Gen Z?” 

We know the benefits when you accurately engage with Gen Z, however, have we reached oversaturation? Is your brand targeting Gen Z because it makes prudent business sense or more that it’s en vogue?

In this blog, we’ll get to grips with exactly who Gen Z is, their habits and behaviours and ultimately, provide you with some food for thought about how to evaluate if your brand should target Gen Z.

Who Is Gen Z and Why Are They Everywhere?


In very simple terms, Generation Z is anyone born from 1997 up until roughly 2012. The characteristics of this group are progressive, diverse, and inherently digitally literate. A group that’s been raised on the internet, where social media has been an integral idea. However, Generation Z has become a phenomenon in its own right. Endlessly referenced in think pieces, news articles and across all forms of media, in turn elevating its cultural significance. Google Trends data show that “Generation Z” is comfortably more searched than other names in searches for information. 

It raises the question: is Gen Z’s relevance a true representation of its impact or a product of a media system that gets clicks when it panders around the subject? Generational cut-off points are an inexact science, which is an interesting aspect to note. The scientific community and sociologists acknowledge that these groups are unspecific. Therefore, it would be judicious to acknowledge that terms such as Millennials, Baby Boomers or Generation X are all generalised terms for a huge number of individuals. They are all generalities, statements that have general rather than specific validity. 

So before jumping in, make sure you answer the question, am I targeting this group because it will positively impact my business or have I got caught up in the hype?

Bandwagoning or Something More?


One of the first questions that we ask ourselves before starting any marketing campaigns is who is our target consumer. If you feel that Generation Z is that answer, it might beg the question why. Generation Z is the youngest generation with the lowest amount of disposable income and unless you’re a very new brand, it’s more than likely your company has established itself without Gen Z. If we’re considering the impact on your business, is a pursuit of a demographic that won’t affect your business be the best strategy?

There will always be a necessity to evolve your marketing strategy to ensure you move with the times and ensure your messaging reaches younger demographics. Ultimately, with so many brands coming to Canoe curious about Generation Z, is it part of a bandwagon effect or a legitimate desire to connect with that demographic? If the answer is the second, then let’s dive in.

What Characteristics Define Gen Z?


Companies must be aware that this generation is the most considerate demographic that’s ever existed. Saturated by information, made highly self-aware by social media, each action made by Gen Z-ers are highly considerate. A McKinsey study identified four core Gen Z behaviours, all threaded together by one central idea, the pursuit of truth. These tenets are:

  • Gen Zers value individual expression and avoid labels. 
  • They mobilise themselves for a variety of causes. 
  • They believe profoundly in the efficacy of dialogue to solve conflicts and improve the world. 
  • They make decisions and relate to institutions in a highly analytical and pragmatic way. 

These ambitious ideas fundamentally change the requirements of a business to accurately communicate with this demographic. Higher importance is placed on experiential shopping as material ownership is a limited pursuit. Purchasing habits have shifted; each purchase has become more intertwined with individual identity. Consumerism and consumption on the whole are an imperative ethical concern. The impact on brands is not a small one, it’s a total reevaluation of what value you’re providing to consumers.

How Can I Engage Gen Z?


If brands want to consider what content they should create or what messaging to adopt, your product needs to be put within a lifestyle setting, positioning it as more than merely attaining its benefits. Each purchase says something about who you are as a person. Gen Z-ers align themselves with the modus operandi of your business and everything you stand for. If you think that there’s some ambiguity to what values your business has, you need to be big, bold and brash about communicating what they are. 

A simpler way is identifying influencers that are Gen Z-ers to speak to Gen Z-ers. Why get Baby Boomers to speak a language that’s foreign to them? Gen Z is a generation that grew up with social media influencers and are comfortable with recommendations from that group.

If you’d like to strategise what your next brand campaign should look like and who it should target, don’t hesitate to get in touch. Click here.

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