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  • Writer's pictureAdeleine Whitten

Gen Z: The next generation of decision makers

When you think of Gen Z, what comes to mind?

If you said TikTok, meaningless lingo, or making fun of your skinny jeans, your word association skills aren’t bad. However, there’s one thing you forgot to mention about this generation: they’re your new target audience.

As of 2022, Gen Z officially makes up more than 20% of the population, surpassing both Boomers and Gen X. And while you may still think of them as kids, many are already in their mid-20s – including myself. And as an inaugural member, I’ve had the unique perspective of both being and marketing towards the youngest person in the room.

So how can companies capture the attention of this new group of consumers?

Your company and the internet

I made my first Google search when I was still in elementary school. Since then, there isn’t anything out there that I haven’t tried to look up online. Consequently, if something isn’t easily accessible on the internet, it doesn’t exist in my world.

Having a solid web presence should already be one of the first steps of getting your business off the ground, but Zoomers expect you to take it a step further. On top of having a clean and intuitive website, young consumers want to see detailed product information, pricing, and clear answers to all of their questions – without having to contact you for more info.

Before deciding to buy anything, Gen Zers will gather as much information as possible. The days of impulse purchases from door-to-door salesmen are over, and we cannot be fooled by the tactics our parents fell for. And we don’t stop there — we always read the reviews. Blogs, unboxings, TikTok reviews… we take it all into consideration before deciding whether or not to buy.

Today’s consumers are the most informed to date, but don’t let that intimidate you. If your website (along with any social media that could help tell your story) are thorough and accurate, the people purchasing from you are likely to end up satisfied. And if they’re Gen Z, they won’t hesitate to give everyone their honest review — so make sure it’s going to be a good one.

Putting our money where our mouth is

Now more than ever, young consumers are thinking critically about the issues near and dear to their hearts and how the purchases they make could affect those causes. Topics like sustainability and human equality are seen as especially important, and Gen Z is – surprise, surprise – doing their research before making a purchase.

Sustainability can make or break a purchasing decision, so it’s important to prioritize those initiatives and make that information readily available to potential customers. Additionally, Gen Z doesn’t mind paying more for products that are environmentally friendly or from companies that pay their employees a fair wage. And we pay attention to what happens to our money after we add to cart – because as consumers, we indirectly support the organizations your company supports.

If you want Gen Z to feel good about backing your business, you need to come across as more than just a bunch of guys in suits trying to make money. And your rainbow logo for pride month doesn’t mean anything if your paper trails indicate a different opinion — in fact, the dishonesty and outright pandering turn us off more than anything. And trust me, we will find out.

When marketing is no longer a mystery

The key to good marketing used to be don’t let your audience know they’re being marketed to, but that’s really not possible anymore. Advertising no longer has the same hold on consumers as it did in its golden age. Marketing is in every part of our lives, from traditional TV and print to social media and influencers. Even creating an ad is now easier than ever, with just an idea and few taps on a phone.

Gen Z cannot be duped into believing an ad is not an ad. And if you try to trick them, you’ve already lost them. But the truth is, we don’t actually mind being marketed to. Targeted ads are an extremely convenient way to find products or services that match our needs (as revealed by our many, many Google searches). So if your product is good, your company aligns with our values, and the proof it works is readily available… that’s all there is to it.

I know it probably seems easier right now to focus on the audiences you already understand. But as Gen Z gets older, it’s essential to pivot your strategy towards the direction the market is moving. And even if you don’t want to learn everything there is to know about us, that definitely won’t stop us from doing our research on you.

Adeleine Whitten | Professional, kind of

is a marketer by day and writer by night, weekend, and sometimes lunch break. You can often find her with a good book or in the Taco Bell drive-thru.

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