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Marketing to Gen Z and Beyond: 5 Best Practices for Every Generation

Jennifer Meech
July 20, 2021
Lasted Updated On

The social media landscape has changed. Not only have demographics shifted over the years, but what people do on social media has also evolved. Channels such as Instagram and TikTok have grown in prevalence, and younger consumers are increasingly likely to turn to social media for purchasing decisions. Figuring out trends in marketing to gen z and beyond has quickly become a critical part of any leading brand’s omnichannel strategy. 

Although many brands take a more general approach targeting younger audiences on social media channels, marketing to Gen Z and marketing to Millennials require different approaches. These generations hold unique preferences and use social media channels for different purposes. Additionally, while brands tend to use traditional marketing channels to reach older generations, the pandemic has accelerated mass adoption of social media, positioning it as a top channel for mass marketing to gen z and beyond—and unlike traditional channels, marketers can rely on data to execute and measure an impactful generational marketing strategy.

Success in marketing to gen z and beyond hinges on a brand’s ability to understand the values and visual preferences of each demographic and use this intel to inform content creation. Dash Hudson’s Global Digital Insights Report for Q2 2021, Decoding Generational Marketing on Social Media, explores how brands can leverage shifting consumer demographics to expand their reach and meet consumers at different points in the buyer journey.

The following five best practices for marketing to gen z and beyond will help brands adopt new tactics and techniques to drive engagement and conversions with each generation.

1.  Understand the preferences of each target audience

Beyond visual preferences, brands need to understand the attitudes, values, and behaviors of each generation in their target audience in order to deliver authentic content. For example, Generation Z consumers value purpose-driven marketing, Millennials look to social media channels for discovery, and Generation X consumers seek educational content. By using this insight to guide content creation, brands can build a strategy that simultaneously speaks to whichever generations make up their target audience.

man holding coffee and looking at phone

2.  Prioritize short-form storytelling and video to drive cross-generational engagement

The rise of short-form video content on social media has been one of the fastest growing marketing trends of the decade. Brands are now able to tap into new opportunities such as Reels and IGTV on Instagram, as well as Shorts on YouTube to increase engagement. Facebook conducted research on media consumption and found that people spend an average of 1.7 seconds when looking at a piece of content, however people look at videos 5 times longer than static content on both Facebook and Instagram. Putting short-form video at the forefront of your strategy will capture the attention of both younger and older audiences. While it’s no secret that Gen Z consumers gravitate towards authentic lo-fi style videos, Gen X and Baby Boomer audiences prefer videos that provide context around your products and marketing campaigns. By using different mediums like Reels and IGTV and keeping the preferences of each generation in mind, brands can figure out what resonates with their particular audience.

Supergoop Instagram Reel of products
@supergoop

3.  Optimize consumer touchpoints to create a seamless buyer journey

Millennials are avid Instagram users, and are driving adoption of social commerce as they prioritize convenience and frictionless digital experiences. Similarly, Generation Z is poised to greatly increase its spending power in the next decade, and is shaping the direction of social commerce. Generation Z focused brands like Abercrombie and Hollister add shoppable tags to repurposed community created content, seamlessly integrating storytelling and e-commerce in each post to create a compelling call to action. To take full advantage of the revenue opportunities that social media channels have to offer, marketers need to define, bridge, and enhance the touchpoint handoffs that exist along the customer journey.

Shoppable UGC photos from Hollister
Image credits: @oliviacerbie, @laura_estilo, @lauren_cardone, @iitsmohammad, @kinleymartin via @hollister

4.  Put Instagram at the center of your marketing strategy

As of January 2021, 33 percent of global Instagram audiences were between the ages of 25 and 34 years. Overall, two thirds of Instagram’s total audience is aged 34 years and younger. Instagram not only gives brands unparalleled access to a global audience, it presents a not-to-be-missed opportunity to interact with consumers primed for conversions.

By rooting their marketing strategy in Instagram, brands can create meaningful connections with consumers without sacrificing their values and aesthetic. More than ever, consumers want to interact with brands on social media channels. “81% of consumers discover new products on the platform and use it to make purchase decisions,” shared Glossy executive editor Priya Rao. Kylie Cosmetics and Fenty Beauty use their Instagram feeds as a second storefront, naturally converting their cult communities into loyal customers. 

Fenty Beauty Instagram shopping
@fentybeauty

5.  Embrace new generations to broaden your reach

While marketing to Gen Z will continue to be important, brands across sectors need to pay attention to the generation with the largest purchasing power today: Baby Boomers. Rachel Tipograph, Founder & CEO of MikMak put it simply: “Don’t discount Baby Boomers.” This generation makes up more than half of consumer spending in the United States and has quickly adapted to the digital environment. On the flip side, marketing to Millennials and Gen Z will continue to be key to driving long-term growth. Striking a balance between a strategy that nurtures the spenders of the future and the top spending consumers today will not only help build strong brand equity, but will help drive long-term business growth. 

A Pivotal Moment for Marketing to Gen Z and Beyond

It is important to take a step back and evaluate your target audiences and get granular when it comes to their channel of choice, preferences, and values. This should inform not only your approach to social media, but also your larger marketing strategy, as marketing to gen z and beyond will be critical to your long-term growth in the future.

With our latest Global Digital Insights Report, you can learn about the latest demographic trends and how they relate to social media, as well as glean insights from top brands. To learn more, download the report today.

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