Connecting With Gen Z: A Playbook for Digital Marketers

The digital marketing world is fixated on millennials, but the next generation of consumers is coming of age. Generation Z, also known as “post-millennials,” commonly refers to the cohort of individuals born after 1996.

The digital marketing world is fixated on millennials, but the next generation of consumers is coming of age. Generation Z, also known as “post-millennials,” commonly refers to the cohort of individuals born after 1996.

Barely out of high school, Gen Zs already have about $44 billion in spending power. Mintel even puts their purchasing power at $200 billion once you factor in the huge influence they have on what their parents buy. For reference, that’s how much millennials spend annually in the U.S.

In order to appeal to this emerging audience, marketers need to develop a deeper understanding of Gen Zs and begin building a relationship with this valuable cohort.

Social platforms enable marketers to achieve both feats. On social platforms, marketers can reach Gen Zs across the multitude of applications and devices they check daily, while also expanding their understanding of this audience.

Test and learn

Digital media platforms show quickly which messaging, imagery, ad formats and targeting strategies work best. They yield high-quality data that can empower marketers with the actionable insights they need to better connect with Gen Zs.

A consumer-packaged-goods company recently wanted to increase awareness of a snack-food product among 13- to 17-year-old males. The brand prepared a variety of assets for testing: humorous ads, informational ads, long videos, short videos and more.

Knowing that 71 percent of 13- to 17-year-olds use Facebook, the brand launched an awareness campaign on that platform, diligently monitoring the performance of each creative asset and pushing ad dollars toward the most effective content. Here are some of the insights the client gleaned:

  • Test different video assets on social to determine the right length for your brand: Video ads shorter than 15 seconds drove up to 124 percent higher video completion rates than 16- to 30-second videos, which came as no surprise to the client. Bloomberg estimates that the average Gen Z has an eight-second attention span.
  • Experiment with different creative tones to find what works for your brand: The client learned that making Gen Zs laugh or teaching them something new garnered the best results on Facebook. Informational videos and humorous videos drove a 72 percent higher video completion rate at a cost 63 percent more efficient than emotional video ads.
  • Prepare and test creatives with varying degrees of packaging and branding to determine the right combination: Gen Zs targeted in this campaign were 19 percent more likely to watch a video from start to finish when the product and/or brand logo was included in the first three seconds, compared to when no branding elements were visible.
  • Test different languages: Knowing that Gen Z comprises the most diverse generation in American history and armed with the knowledge that U.S. Hispanics spend more than other demographics on CPG, the brand prepared creatives in Spanish as well as English. Using Facebook’s advanced targeting technology, SocialCode found pockets of efficiency by programmatically pushing ads accompanied by Spanish text to the subset of Gen Z most likely to engage with this content on Facebook, using cost-per-video-view and video completion rates as signals.

Invest heavily in video

More than 50 percent of Gen Zs polled by Defy Media reported watching video on Facebook, while a study by nScreenMedia found that one-half of Gen Zs have never had cable. Snapchat, which is dominated by this demographic, logs more than 10 billion video views per day. These stats indicate that Gen Zs are watching more video content than ever–they’re just not watching it on TV.

Invest in video to reach these post-millennials in a format they regularly engage with on the platforms they check daily. In the aforementioned case study, the client found that Gen Zs engaged more with video ads than with photo ads. At similar levels of spend, video ads on Facebook drove up to 21 times higher engagement rates than photo ads at a cost-per-engagement 95 percent more efficient.

Diana Gonimah is an analyst at social ad technology and insights provider SocialCode.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.