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Generation Z, that cohort born after 1995, is already making a dent in many industries. People who belong to this generation already make up a quarter of the American population, and many of them are starting to enter the workforce. Their annual spending in the U.S. is $44 billion and growing.

While they follow Millennials, Generation Z customers have many unique characteristics relative to their predecessors. In an effort to be more prepared than they were for Millennials, marketers across all industries are working overtime to get to know this group of customers, many of whom are currently in their teens.

Here are three rules to keep in mind when marketing to this generation.

  1. Expand your talent pool.

Teens aren’t relying on traditional media to find celebrities to follow and idolize. Social media has democratized the idea of celebrity, giving way to YouTube, Vine and Instagram stars.

“Because they haven't been impacted by mass media nearly as much as Gen X or Gen Y, they have found their own heroes and idols,” writes Grant Owens, vice president at digital agency Razorfish, in AdAge. “They have a much broader range of them too, discovered on YouTube, Netflix, Buzzfeed, and Chive-like forums.”

Owens’ advice for marketers is to “dig deeper” when looking for talent to use for campaigns. “Who you choose to partner with and how you choose to get your brand talked about when it comes is critical, and it may require a lot more homework and discovery of microcelebrities.”

  1. Be genuinely good.

Being truly open, transparent and socially conscious is important for Gen Z. Studies show that this generation has a real desire to change the world and, as a result, they support brands that are good for society.

Tweet this!Being an open, transparent and socially conscious brand is important for Gen Z. (CLICK TO TWEET)

"Brands have to show they care about that person, that they are on their side, that they understand them and then ensure the company acts around those issues," Emily Sheffield, editor of the teen e-zine Miss Vogue, tells Marketing magazine. "If they know their customer cares about ethical treatment of its workers in India, for instance, then it needs to reassure them they are looking after their employees."

Platforms that are genuinely ethical and sustainable resonate strongly with Gen Z, according to Sheffield.

  1. Step up your digital game.

Gen Z-ers are swimming in technology. In a 2015 study, digital agency Deep Focus found that 51 percent of tweens are already using social media, and over 70 percent use their mobile phones to take photos, text, email and shoot videos. The study, which focused on people born between 1998 and 2008, found that Gen Z already spend an average of 10 hours a week online.

Tweet this!Gen Z already spend an average of 10 hours a week online. (CLICK TO TWEET)

“What we know about them is that they were born with phones in their hands, and laptops for them will at most be educational or work devices,” said Matt Rosenberg, senior vice president of marketing at the ad agency 140 Proof, in Digiday. “If you want to get personal with them, you need to reach them through their personal devices.”


As Gen Zs enter the workforce their spending power will only increase, as will their influence. Companies must engage with these customers now to gain a deep forward-looking understanding of their views on brands, products and marketing & engagement preferences. Gen Z-focused insight communities can be a critical tool for building this body of knowledge, providing ongoing incremental insight while at the same time fueling an authentic and collaborative relationship that engages this highly coveted generation.

The Everything Guide to Gen Z

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