GenZennial Takeover

Generation Z…the big, scary generation that marketers are desperately trying to reach.

Generation Z…the big, scary generation that marketers are desperately trying to reach. There’s great debate regarding the birth years that define this group, but for this blog’s sake, we’re going with 1997-2012. What we do know is that Gen Z was born into a time of extreme technological advancement. Here are a few other key traits of GenZennials:

Technologically savvy Humanitarians
Ambitious Empathetic
Active members of inclusive cultures Smartphone Gen
Independent Open-minded
Financially focused Enjoys other people
Wants to be heard Entrepreneurial

People ages 16-24 spend an average of seven hours per day online, four of which are exclusively spent on social media. This has required advertisers to tailor budgets and campaigns to focus on social channels to connect with younger audiences. More specifically, brands need to stay in tune with the ever-changing online behavior of Gen Z.

Tip: Keep Your Eyes Open

Before settling on a plan of attack, it’s important to understand what GenZennials look for:

  1. Easy-to-consume content: Gen Z doesn’t want to spend a lot of effort keeping in touch or getting news…because who has time for that? The quicker they can consume and understand content, the better, hence why platforms like TikTok are so popular.
  2. Out-of-the-box branding: This generation is known for getting bored easily, so the longer a brand can continue to whip out new and improved content, the better.
  3. Social activism: 68% of the GenZennials want to pay it forward and be a part of something bigger than themselves.
  4. Nostalgia: Gen Z is known for rebellion. Use that to your advantage. Happier, nostalgic messaging resonates.
  5. Micro-influencers: Small businesses and influencers are the new trend and Gen Z loves that. They gravitate to people who talk about their own lives, products and experiences, because bigger celebrities are harder to trust.
  6. Diversity: At the first sign of a stereotype, Gen Z runs as fast as they can in the opposite direction. Be sure to stay inclusive in your campaigns to reach all audiences.
  7. The Unusual: This generation loves individuality. They are drawn to images, words, and brands that celebrate differences and unity!
  8. Social Media: On social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram specifically, Zennials look for:
    1. Long captions about life-changing events, product launches, behind-the-scenes info, and heartfelt messages
    2. Content that adds value
    3. Authentic connections
    4. Original content
    5. Small, yet engaged, audiences

Ok… So?

What does all of this mean for brands? First and foremost, we need to get better at finding smaller, “influential people” who have credibility within their community without being large celebrities or influencers. This allows Gen Z to feel that they have closer bonds with the person recommending the brand or product. They love social activism, and if you don’t get on board, your brand risks being left behind. Lastly, Gen Z loves their privacy. “Finstas,” Close Friends posts and stories, Snapchat Private Stories, and Dark social sharing is music to their ears. The bottom line: cut out the fluff and get real.

Game Plan

Finally, the moment you’ve been waiting for: Tips and tricks for marketing to Gen Z from a member of Gen Z. Let’s do this!

  1. Use eye-catching, visual content. Like I said before, Gen Z gets bored really fast. The best way to catch their attention is visual and stylized content, like TikTok. This platform gives them the ability to scroll mindlessly for hours.
  2. Get interactive. Twitter polls, Instagram story polls and “Ask Me a Question,” stickers, GIFs, and music are all amazing ways to generate a response from your audience.
  3. We get FOMO… use that! Stories are a great example of this. Stories disappear after 24 hours so if you miss one, goodbye forever! The concept of time-sensitive content is something we’ve grown accustomed to, and it hooks us every time.
  4. Use humor, we love it. (Pro tip: The darker the better.) Gen Z wants to support brands that come off as “fun” or “cool.” So be fun and cool! By demonstrating that your brand can humanize itself with humor, it shows us that you have a personality and don’t need to always be buttoned up.
  5. Remain engaged with your followers. By giving us your undivided attention, it immediately boosts our need to be loyal to your brand. At least ¾ of Gen Z wants brands to respond to their comments and feedback because it lends a sense of authenticity. Invest in your customers and they’ll invest in you.
  6. Don’t be shy about your beliefs and values. Gen Z prides itself on activism, so it’s important that the companies they invest in do, too. We expect you to take a stance on social issues. By wearing your beliefs on your sleeves, you become more open and trustworthy.
  7. Make your advertising more authentic (use influencers). Ok, so I know I said avoid the big celebrity influencers and companies…but there are plenty of smaller, more down-to-earth influencers willing to support your brand, as long as it aligns with their values. If we feel like they are “real people,” we are on board.
  8. Seamless experience. Gen Z is the mobile generation, so never omit mobile optimization in a marketing campaign.
  9. Emphasize discounts and value. Let me be real with you: Gen Z refuses to pay full price for just about anything (unless it’s under $4). This makes perfect sense because we are incredibly mindful of how we spend our cash. A discount or giveaway every once in a while would not be the worst thing you could do!


Gen Z’s social media marketing trends aren’t completely out of line with other consumers but they constantly change their minds about what they do and don’t like. These behaviors will have a long-term impact on engagement, so pay attention!