For many businesses, the 2020 year presented a grab-bag full of obstacles. Now that we’ve made it to 2021, it’s time to start discussing ways to strengthen your marketing strategy, as well as how to begin casting a wider net among consumers.

You’ve heard of the importance of Millennial marketing, but did you know Generation Z is now turning drinking age?

Gen Z’ers are aged 6 to 24 years old. This socially-minded, tech-savvy generation accounts for nearly 40% of global consumers and has a whopping $143 billion in spending power.

It should go without saying that brands need to tap into this marketplace and implement tactics that align with the values and needs of this generation. 

First impressions are everything for Gen Zers. Weave their technology-driven upbringing into their incredibly short attention spans, and you’re left with a short window to make an impact. But, when done properly, you’ll acquire a new subset of incredibly loyal customers who will greatly bolster incoming revenue. 

Ready to dive in? Here are five strategies for raising brand awareness and sales among Generation Z.

Emphasize Experiences vs. Selling Products

Hard selling? Not going to work on this generation. 

Growing up with accessibility to the internet means they can quickly sniff out insincerity and are impervious to traditional marketing campaigns. 

Generation Z is focused on how a product or service will benefit them – and similarly, the type of experience it will bring them. 

Mention puts it perfectly in one of their recent blog posts saying, products account for 25% of what you sell. The other 75% is attributed to the “intangible feeling tied to the product.” 

Storytelling & The Use of Video is Key

As digital natives, Gen Zers are essentially hardwired to leverage video to find answers. 

You can see it with your own eyes by merely running a quick YouTube search. The results range from educational “How to Code in Python” lessons, to hilariously entertaining guides on “How to trick people into thinking you’re cool,” to unnervingly simple queries like “How to peel an orange.” 

A Google survey found that YouTube is, in fact, the first platform this generation looks to for entertainment. Google’s research further reveals that of the 85% of Gen Zers that actively use the platform, 80% use it as a tool to expand their knowledge and 68% call upon the site to either improve to acquire new skills. 

With this entire generation practically served to you on a silver platter via YouTube, it’s an effective way to capture their attention and reel them in. 

An example of a brand doing it right? Red Bull. They currently have over 9.7 million subscribers on their YouTube channel. They have tons of content – including a Red Bull Travel Vlog series and recurring lifestyle videos that feature everything from figure skating in the Arctic Circle to skydiving over Lake Tahoe.

You know what they don’t have? Any videos parading around cans of Red Bull. Instead, the message they communicate centers around being adventurous, traveling, feeling energized, and more – a.k.a. they’re showcasing stories and experiences. 

Keep in mind, YouTube isn’t the only platform you can utilize for video content. Your company should be leveraging Instagram Stories, as well as incorporating video into your brand messaging on your website. 

Focus on Engagement & Building Customer Relationships

By now, you should be fully aware of the vital role reviews play in establishing trust and credibility for your brand. Well, this is especially true when targeting Gen Zers. 

In a report titled “Gen Z Brand Relationships: Authenticity Matters,” from IBM and the National Retail Federation, 76% of Gen Zers stated they look for companies that actively respond to reviews/feedback because it speaks to the authenticity of the brand. 

What’s more, “68% of Gen Z (a huge %) read at least three reviews before making a first time purchase online. That means 3 strangers influence their first-time buying decisions,” according to The State of Gen Z® 2020 report. 

So, it should go without saying, building up your reviews on sites like Google and Facebook is pivotal. But to truly impress Gen Z, you need to take it a step further and reply to the reviews you receive. 

For positive reviews, avoid giving a vanilla, templated response. Instead, acknowledge the feedback in a personalized way so potential customers know you aren’t simply copying and pasting a one-size-fits-all reply. 

Responding to negative feedback is equally (if not more) important, as it furnishes you with the opportunity to take accountability, demonstrate your brand genuinely cares, and discuss what your company is doing to resolve the issue. 

Create a Digital Community

Multiple reports have (sadly) stated that Gen Z accounts for the loneliest generation in the U.S. 

Because of this, they’re always on the hunt for new outlets or ways to connect with other like-minded individuals. From a branding perspective, this opens the doorway for you to be a facilitator of conversation and authentic connections. 

Forget mega-influencers. Micro-influencers, real people who embody your company’s values, and user-generated content are all ways to build a community around your brand. 

There are so many ways to celebrate your Gen Z customers – from doing a spotlight post on a loyal customer to asking for input and feedback as you develop new products. This appeals to the generation’s morally-conscious, bold, and community-seeking personalities.

My daughter Willow is a Gen Zer. This past year, at age 10, she created her own company, Den Dogs. The micro-influencer (534K subscribers) she loves the most is Seri, a “Pixel biologist”. Seri plays video games and narrates it step by step. Willow found her first when she started playing Wolf Quest (a very cool game that biologists created based on wolves in Yellowstone National park).

Half of Willow’s 4th grade class wants to be Youtubers when they grow up. My daughter is counting down the days until she turns 13, when we allow her to do this.

Generation Z is so much more than meets the eye. And they could truly serve as a catalyst for taking your brand to new heights. By implementing the tips above, you’ll tap into this loyal and valuable consumer base, and see your marketing efforts going further than ever before.