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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.

A global activation with employees at grassroots level

A global activation with employees at grassroots level

 For the second time, spirits company Bacardi created a magnificent, global marketing campaign that required extensive planning and thorough internal communications, writes Michael Bratt.

Turning every employee into a brand ambassador was the central component of Bacardi’s Back to the Bar brand awareness campaign.

Coinciding with the 157th anniversary of the brand’s founding, more than 7 000 Bacardi employees across 130 global cities visited over 1 000 bars during a 16-hour period. With the main aim of brand awareness, the self-named primos and primas handed out cocktails to and interacted with patrons. Their presence was advertised beforehand through posters hung at the outlets, but the main communication with the consumers was the activation itself.

“For us, firstly it’s to thank all our customers who have supported our brand this year, and it’s important internally for us to have all our employees think like sales people and be closer to the consumers,” explains Francois Portier, area director for South and East Africa at Bacardi.

The scale of the campaign doubled in size from last year, meaning that coordinating the activities was a much bigger challenge in 2019. Internal communications had to be spot on. Rather than have the global office co-ordinate the goings-on, each individual market was tasked with their own rollout. However, there were common threads globally.

The micro influencer trend

“The look and feel of the campaign was made by the global office and then the brand ambassador in each market, who was briefed by the global team, communicated it locally. And the rollout happened on the same day everywhere,” explains Portier.

The success of the campaign was firstly measured on the number of interactions Bacardi employees had on the ground. Aside from being an activation in nature, Bacardi also used its social media platforms (and those of all its employees) to spread the message further. With the belief that “all employees can influence the business at a grassroots level”, Bacardi was looking to utilise home-grown Insta-influencers from all levels of the business.

“As part of this brand’s culture, the founders are very important to us and family is very important to us. This is why we used our employees, who are our family. It was very important to have internal involvement,” says Portier.

This approach plays on the new micro-influencer trend that has been creeping up in marketing, ever so quietly. Rather than recruit big name celebrities (who usually come with hefty price tags anyway) and their huge followings to be part of a campaign, brands are recognising the value of using ‘ordinary people’ with smaller followings. Even though they don’t reach mass, they are more engaged with and closer to their followers, which reinforces the belief of genuine connections. However, with this campaign, Bacardi had the best of both worlds as they used micro-influencers, while still reaching mass, due to the 7 000 staff the brand utilised.

With the incorporation of this digital aspect, traditional social media metrics were also used to gauge the success of the campaign. Several hashtags were used, including #BacktotheBar, while trends in the alcohol space were also touched on in posts, including “drink less but better”, “instagrammable handcrafted cocktails” and “no/low is the new go-to”.

Brands built in bars, not boardrooms

“‘Back to the Bar’ is based on our belief that our brands are built in bars, not boardrooms. As Bacardi celebrates our 157th anniversary, it’s important to reconnect with our roots, think like founders and put our own feet on the street to see first-hand how our business, bars and consumers are changing,” says Mahesh Madhavan, CEO of Bacardi Limited. “For Bacardi people, visiting bars is often more work than play as we do on-the-ground research and put ourselves in the role of salespeople and social media influencers.”

Customised cocktails

A standout feature of the campaign was the choice of cocktails served per market. These were dependent on the dominant Bacardi brand that patrons in the market prefer.

“In Kenya we did more on whiskey, Mozambique would be Martini and in South Africa it’s mainly based on Bombay Sapphire,” comments Portier.

“The cocktail revolution continues as more people from more places drink more varieties of spirits than ever before, and bars and bartenders are on the frontlines,” says Jacob Briars, Bacardi’s global advocacy director.  “In addition to spending time with consumers, Back to the Bar is a chance for us to thank the bars and restaurants who support us and the world’s best bartenders, who are truly on the cutting edge of what’s new and next in our business,” he added.

This campaign will be rolled out again next year, as well as in the foreseeable future, as it has been incorporated into Bacardi’s long-term strategy. In the shorter term, the company is busy with projects in South Africa for its newly acquired Patrón Tequila, as well as several other of its brands, with the country being a priority market in Sub-Saharan Africa for Bacardi.

As Portier concludes, “We test some activations and activities in South Africa that we then rollout to other African markets like Nigeria and Kenya.”