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The best strategies to market to Gen Z

Gen Z represents the new generation of consumers, which means they should be the main focus of most marketers right now. But marketers have realised that traditional marketing techniques don’t work on Gen Z most of the time. Gen Z is known to hold brands to higher standards and don’t hand out their loyalty easily.

Traditional marketing techniques don’t work for Gen Z because times have changed. In the past, people received most of their content over TV, radio, or print. Gen Z, who were born between the mid-90s and early 2000s, receive most of their content over smartphones or computers. Seeing that social media and the internet have an endless supply of content curated to fit the needs and wants of every individual, marketing communication today has to be curated and individualised as well.

These are some of the best strategies marketers could use to market to Gen Z:

Prioritise Gen Z in your marketing strategy

Right now, Gen Z is either in high school, completing their higher education, or has just entered the workforce. This means that this generation is soon to have a large amount of buying power. Marketers should not delay getting their heads around how to communicate with this generation if they wish to be at the forefront of attracting this emerging buyer. Building brand loyalty and awareness with Gen Z now, could lead to a loyal client base for years to come.

However, please note that changing your strategy to focus on Gen Z, does not mean you should neglect older generations. Gen Z may be the new frontier, but the older generations still have a large amount of buying power and also need marketing strategies that match their needs and wants.

Gen Z needs to see relatable marketing

The Gen Z generation grew up seeing marketing campaigns targeted at their parents. Many of these campaigns were adverts, filled with idealistic situations and paid actors. That won’t work with this generation! Gen Z craves realism and needs to see relatable people and situations in marketing campaigns if marketers want to attract their attention and earn their trust. Fake just won’t make it!

Marketers also need to ensure that the product or service being advertised is going to be of value to their target audience. Gen Z is notorious for taking a stand and is not easily fooled by sales gimmicks for products or services they don’t actually need or want.

The content needs to be fast and punchy

According to research, Gen Z have a much shorter attention span than previous generations. The content marketers create therefore needs to convey the message in under 10 seconds. To get this right, marketers should invest in photo and video content, which is best consumed on Instagram and TikTok. Whether it’s photo or video content for a story or for the actual feed, marketers need to aim to keep it short and straightforward so that Gen Z gets the message at their first glance and in under 10 seconds.

The content needs to be fast and punchy

Different social media platforms need different marketing strategies

Most of Gen Z always has some sort of device close by for them to check and update their social media profiles ‘on the go’. Although the same people have social media accounts on different social media platforms, marketers need to create specific marketing strategies for each channel and not expect that the same conent will work or drive the same engagement across multiple channels. This makes the process of marketing to Gen Z more complex and more expensive.

Gen Z uses different social media platforms for different reasons. Twitter is often used to get information, Instagram is used to post photos and videos, while TikTok is used for entertainment. Marketers should create marketing strategies that mirror these objectives.

Gen Z uses different social media platforms

Businesses need to be leaders

Gen Z is liberal, progressive, and socially aware. Social issues are important to most of this generation which means that they will form a bond with businesses that share their interests. Marketers should focus on this when creating marketing communication strategies but should not exploit it. Gen Z is smart and will easily be able to recognise if the activism or social awareness is forced and being used as bait or as a sales gimmick.


This baby giant of a generations offers marketers a range of opportunities and possibilities which can be extremely lucrative if handled correctly. Gen Z is smart and savvy, which means marketers need to be smarter and savvier than them. To truly earn the trust of Gen Z, marketers need to be authentic and truly care about this generation’s needs and wants. If they are able to achieve this, they will reap the rewards.

How has the marketing industry changed over the past few years?

Marketing has never been simple, but marketing was much simpler just a few years ago. The main objective of marketing used to be to create a smart, attention-grabbing marketing communication and then strategically place it to get as many views as possible. Today, marketers have to be much smarter and more intentional. Consumers are discerning and need more than a clever advert to be swayed.

In today’s climate, marketers need to have a good understanding of human nature. Striking graphics, catchy slogans, and good copywriting aren’t enough. Marketers need social insight to truly capture the attention of their target market. Continue reading to find out how marketing has evolved over the past few years.

The rise of social media

During the early days of social media, the online platforms were used to solely to keep in touch with friends and family, share funny posts, and keep your followers up to date with which coffee shop you visited before heading to work. Today, all social media platforms have become a media outlet and a space where businesses can market themselves.

Social media has taken the world by storm, with over 3 billion people being active across the different social media platforms. Brands and businesses can easily reach their consumers and target audience over social media if the marketing is done correctly.

The rise of social media

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) has evolved

SEO, in its infancy, was not as important as it is today. Now, thanks to the Panda update in 2011, SEO is now a tactical tool used by companies to ensure that their content showsat the top of search rankings on Google and other search engines. The Panda update was an algorithm adjustment that functions as a quality filter for websites. Now, websites that are of lesser quality are filtered out. Google is known for changing its algorithm from time to time, and companies that have mastered the art of SEO have benefited from this change as it eliminates black hat SEO practitioners. Black hat SEO is a technique used where search engine guidelines are violated to manipulate search engine algorithms and boost a site’s SEO rankings.

Smartphones are the new supercomputers

Smartphones have the same capabilities as computers, which has drastically changed the way products and services are marketed. The ease and convenience of smartphones have allowed the internet to grow and evolve, which meant that marketing had to keep up with the growth. Now, websites are designed to be optimised for smartphones so that potential consumers have added ease and comfort when navigating the internet.

Smartphones are the new supercomputers

Consumers have shorter attention spans

Due to social media and the internet being filled with content coming from every corner, the consumer’s attention span has shrunk. Having access to information, entertainment, and the products and services we desire at the tap of a few buttons has shortened attention spans, which has made marketing so much harder for those behind the scenes. Today, marketers need to ensure that the content and campaigns produced are attention-grabbing and that the grabbed attention can be maintained. A good way to do this is create messaging that is relevant and on point, which gets them emotionally engaged. Once this happens, consumers will form a bond with a brand.

Gen Z

Gen Z is extremely tech-savvy and this means that marketers need to cater to them as one of the primary audiences. As Gen Z enters the workforce, they have the power and potential to be one of the most profitable generations of our time. Marketers have had to consider data, trends, and the needs and wants of Gen Z during the conceptualisation process to create effective and lucrative marketing content and campaigns.

Gen Z

The bottom line

Marketing has experienced a developmental boom in recent years with all thanks going to the evolution of the internet and social media. As the internet grows, marketing will have to grow to keep up and it will be interesting to watch what new trends and tactics enter the mainstream for marketers. If you are a marketer, and you are able to evolve and adapt to new situations and environments, you are sure to succeed no matter how drastic the changes in marketing are. For those wanting to upskill themselves, look no further than the Institute of Marketing where you can sign up for one of our fast-paced online short courses.

The ABC of Marketing to Gen Z

The ABC of Marketing to Gen Z

Every generation gets its time in the spotlight and right now it’s Gen Z’s time to shine, but who exactly is Gen Z?

Gen Z, also known as Centennials or the iGen, follows Generation Y (Millennials) and refers to people born between the years 1995 and 2015. Gen Zers are known to be (among other things) competitive, social, environmentally conscious, and financially focused.

On a more personal level, Gen Zers enjoy expressing their individuality by openly voicing their social and political opinions. Even though they want to change how society thinks and reacts to things, they still value community in that they consider other people’s feelings and opinions.

Saying that Gen Z is tech-savvy would be an understatement. Unlike Millennials, Gen Zers have never known a time without technology such as, smartphones, internet access, and on-demand entertainment; this makes them tech-natives. Because of this, Gen Zers usually fit into one of the following categories:

  • The Digital Orphans: children who are essentially being raised by technology. To clarify – their parents prefer giving them a smartphone or tablet to play on instead of spending time with them.
  • The Digital Exiles: children whose families deliberately keep them offline as much as possible.
  • The Digital Heirs: children whose parents embrace technology and help to guide their kids through the digital world.

Millennials vs. Gen Zers – Are they really that different?

The ABC of Marketing to Gen Z BSource: Viral Nation

There are also a few other key differences between Millennials and Gen Zers:  

Shopping preferences

Although Gen Zers usually research products online before making a decision, research shows that they value the unpredictable social interactions that come with shopping at brick-and-mortar stores. This preference ties in with their greater social media preference since these personal shopping experiences provide great social media material.

Millennials, on the other hand, prefer shopping online since it’s convenient and they can browse the product selection at their own pace and in the comfort of their own home. 

Finance and debt

Studies show that Gen Zers are less likely to go to university because they don’t want to be burdened with student loans or debt in general.

When it comes to the workplace, Gen Z is also more competitive when it comes to their salary and job security. 


As mentioned earlier in the post, Gen Zers enjoy displaying their individuality and tend to be more outspoken than previous generations…they don’t want to be a part of “the herd”.

Compared to Millennials who like wearing branded clothing with the logos openly displayed, Gen Z prefers wearing simple colours such as black, white and grey to which they can add their own designs. 

Marketing to Gen Z – What they want vs don’t want

BizCommunity says that by the year 2020, there will be a whopping 2.6 Billion Gen Z consumers globally which will make up about 40% of the world’s consumer population. 2020 is just around the corner so that change needs to happen soon. 

Studies show that the average attention span of a Gen Zer is only around 8 seconds. That’s one third less than a Millennial’s 12 seconds, so the brand message needs to be communicated even faster and more clearly. Instagram and Snapchat are best suited for short punchy ads.

When marketing to Gen Z: 


  • Create personalised content – they want to feel as though the content was created especially for them.
  • Include visuals like memes and emojis – Words alone won’t catch their attention.
  • Stay active on all social media channels by posting pictures, polls, reviews, and user-generated content – they like sharing their opinions and participating in conversations.
  • Create mobile-friendly content – they don’t want to wait for web pages to load.
  • Respect online privacy – Gen Zers value their online privacy and tend to be wary of websites that ask personal questions.
  • Be authentic – brands need to be transparent and honest when conveying their message or making a promise.


  • Create lengthy, unnecessary introductions – the message needs to be communicated in 8 seconds or less.
  • Neglect video content – videos are more likely to make them stop scrolling to watch the video.
  • Ignore the lesser-known social platforms – while Facebook is still king, studies show that Gen Zers are moving towards less popular platforms like Reddit and Tumblr.
  • Post the same content on every platform – since Gen Zers are active on multiple platforms, they’ll notice the duplication and ignore the message.
  • Use clichés like “one time offer” and “flash sale”. These won’t work on Gen Z since they prefer marketing efforts to be unique, informative, persuasive, and entertaining.

To appeal to this tech-savvy generation, marketers need to target them in their natural habitat – the internet. Gen Zers are all about saving the environment and value unique experiences. They want to leave their mark on the world, so to appeal to this forward-thinking generation, brands need to focus on being both authentic, environmentally friendly and transparent.

Start your career, or if you are already working, boost your career with a leading internationally recognised qualification from the IMM Graduate School. Applications for 2020 are now open! Visit https://imm.ac.za for more information.