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Marketing to the Gen Z Consumer

By: Zephyr Jaeger

December 5, 2023

The tactics of the past simply don’t resonate with Gen Z. With this generation, marketing is all about authenticity. 

Marketing to the Gen Z consumer has become (and will continue to be) paramount in today’s marketing landscape. From their increasing buying power to their market and social influence, this widely discussed generation simply cannot be ignored by companies hoping to remain viable and profitable in this changing world. 

When you set out to market to Generation Z (also called Gen Z, or, more colloquially, “Zoomers”) there are swaths of information to keep in mind, but we’re here to fill you in on the need-to-knows. So let’s dive in and take a look at what’s important to this young generation, how to keep them in mind with your marketing tactics, and how to update your practices to draw this influential generation into your brand. 

Who Is The Gen Z Consumer?

The Pew Research Center has loosely defined Gen Z as being born between 1997 and 2012. However, they have recently spoken to the notion that these generational divides are not “precise, definitive or universally agreed on.” Especially those born near the changing points, so to speak, often take issue with being lumped into one generation or another. 

I myself was born in 1997 and find it difficult to align myself with either Gen Z or Millennials (roughly 1981 – 1996) because I was born right on the line and share many characteristics with each group. That all said, though, there are a handful of very clear distinctions about the Gen Z consumer that are key to keep in mind when marketing to them. 

Digital Nativity 

It’s been said many times, many ways, but one of the most important things to keep in mind with Gen Z is that they are the first generation of truly digital natives. They were born and raised in a world that included the internet, cell phones, school computers, online gaming, and a slew of never-ending advertisements on television, computers, and the radio. This generation has been inundated by targeted digital marketing since their eyesight developed, and now that the older end of them are into adulthood, they absolutely know when they are being marketed to. Whether it was a spin art machine being advertised during the commercial breaks of Dragon Tales or a cleverly crafted influencer campaign on social media, the Gen Z consumer knows exactly what to look out for when spending time on digital channels. 

So what does that mean from a marketing perspective? It means that to really reach Generation Z, you have to be authentic and purposeful. Whether you’re marketing makeup products, insurance options, or even cars, the key here is to be transparent. An essential aspect of marketing is identifying the target audience’s needs and interests, and Generation Z’s needs and interests are deeply rooted in social consciousness, financial stability, sustainability, seeking their life’s purpose, and more. 

On track to be the most educated generation thus far, these savvy and resilient young adults and teens will take their time to do research, cross-reference, and verify claims, so when you set out to market to them, make sure you’ve dotted your i’s and crossed your t’s. 

Social Media Savvy

As we learned above, Generation Zers are digital natives and thus don’t need training when it comes to operating on social media. They know the ins and outs of the various platforms, use them for unique and particular purposes, and have very clearly decided on and begun to dictate the kind of content that resonates with them the most: short-form video or copy. But as we also discussed, this group is sharp as a tack and knows very clearly when they’re being marketed to, so it’s important that you remain authentic and avoid being “cringey.” 

I’ve seen or heard countless ads at this point that are clearly trying to market to someone my age or in their young 20s using what they believe to be popular slang or topics among Gen Z. All I can say is, it’s incredibly obvious and eye-roll-inducing. Generation Zers like myself prefer straight-up, honest marketing tactics that both inform and intrigue from an authentic origin. To hit the nail on the head here, be sure to segment your marketing accordingly on various social sites (short, informative video content on Instagram featuring someone the same age as your target audience, for instance) and avoid trying to pander to what you think Gen Z is all about. 


Being driven by the current issues of the world isn’t exactly a novel idea, but many of the issues Gen Zers are up against are unique to today’s world. This generation grew up through the 2008 financial crisis, had their young lives turned upside down as a pandemic ravaged our world, and experienced an era of radical social justice efforts – among many other hurdles along the way. Whether they were directly affected by these events or not, the world changed around them in dramatic ways, and it’s all left its mark on Generation Z as they navigate the massive curve leading them from childhood to adulthood. 

Before, during, and after the above-described events, Gen Z has become known as a socially conscious generation. Deeply invested in things like racial justice, addressing climate change, navigating inflation, and striking a true balance between work and life, 11 to 26-year-olds across the world are affecting change in ways like never before.  

One of the ways in which they’re able to affect and dictate these changes is with their increasing buying power; they already have hundreds of billions in disposable income and, as young people have long been able to, they influence more than older adults like to give them credit for. As we discussed, Generation Z is willing and able to do their research, and they do this with the brands they buy from and align with on a regular basis. From toothpaste to sneakers to credit unions, Gen Zers seek out and do business with brands that align with their values, so it literally pays to be aware of and address those values in meaningful and authentic ways. 

The Bottom Line On Marketing To Generation Z

In the end, authenticity is key when trying to reach the Gen Z consumer. Marketing to any targeted audience requires a thoughtful approach and individualized research, but Generation Z is truly a beast of its own. 

These individuals are smart, dedicated to their causes and values, intuitive, and often non-gullible. 

Concerned with things like financial stability, happiness, and doing their part to make the world a better place, this group isn’t very likely to fall for the classic marketing tactics of the past or the ones that may still resonate with older audiences. 

Making your brand appealing to Generation Z may feel like a tricky task, especially if you don’t represent something that seems trendy or flashy. But once you take the time to understand this generation, making simple tweaks to your company and marketing strategies to appeal to this influential group isn’t so hard after all. 

If you’d like some assistance getting your brand ready to face this scrutinous generation, contact us today!

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Zephyr Jaeger

I recently started at Fishnet as their new Content Strategist/Copywriter, which encompasses a wide range of content and copy work. From Fishnet blogs, to writing and reviewing client website copy, to SEO research, I’m always jumping from one aspect of content production to another. I work closely with all departments, especially those on the creative side of things, to craft the best content possible for Fishnet and their valued clients.

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