5 min read

Advertising to Gen Z: what marketers should know

Written by
Pavlo Fedykovych
Published on
February 1, 2024
May 29, 2024

Zoomers are here and they are buying. Brands are taking notice and adjusting their marketing. There is much confusion about what works and what doesn’t with this particular group of people. This article aims to clarify things in advertising to Gen Z. It will give you tips and tricks on understanding what Zoomers want and give it to them through various marketing channels.

What is Gen Z? 

Let’s start from the basics. 

Generations are essential for marketing purposes. They help brands to get to the bottom of the target audience and provide them with all the nuances. 

We love this graph from the Pew Research Center listing the generations.


As for the Gen Z definition, McKinsey has a great one stating that it “comprises people born between 1996 and 2010. This generation’s identity has been shaped by the digital age, climate anxiety, a shifting financial landscape, and COVID-19.”

Number-wise, Gen Z equivalents 20.67% of the US population

It is a great definition because it includes important features of Zoomers that largely influence their behaviour, interests, and buying habits.

What are the features of Generation Z?

When it comes to the true Gen Z experience, there’s a lot to unpack. 

The majority of them were born with the Internet already in place. That’s what’s different from Millenials, for example. Zoomers didn’t have to “discover” the online, digital was always there for them, it’s a natural way things work. That’s why this generation is comprised of so-called digital natives.

When you think about marketing to them, you’re looking at the digital generation.

The COVID pandemic is also central to getting into the minds of Zoomers. While for Millenials, Gen X, and Boomers, the quarantine, work-from-home, and Zoom calls were the “new normal”, for Gen Z it was just normal. They simply didn’t have anything to compare it to, they never worked classically in the office. 

Another vital feature of Gen Z is the importance of mental health both in everyday life and at work. They treat it seriously, they are ready to take time off to resolve their issues, and they actively seek help from therapists. 

There’s also a prevalent feeling of betrayal economy-wise and the uber-attention to expenses and costs that stems from it. Gen Z representatives are growing up in times of neverending crisis. First with a pandemic, then with the international instability, hovering inflation, and constant rise of prices. They don’t have the bright outlook that the Boomers have and they are very conscious of where their money goes.

Another major thing brands should understand about Zoomers is that they are very serious about the mission. In other words, if your brand has no mission or fakes one, they are not buying. Sustainability, climate change, ethical work conditions, and cultural impact, are the things that matter to Gen Z. Any misstep, any faux-pas, any offensive messaging and you can forget about the favorable treatment from Zoomers. As the Internet doesn’t forget, they don’t forget too.

What are the key elements of advertising to Gen Z?

Keep it short. That’s the basis of marketing for Gen Z. Why? They are the TikTok generation and they value on-point content. 

According to research, 61% of Zoomers prefer short videos under 1 minute long. That doesn’t mean that the long format is dead. Twitch streams, Mukbangs (people filming themselves eating stuff), and YouTube vlogs are in favor too. But to master the marketing to Gen Z you should know your niche and use it correctly.

This brings us to one of the biggest parts of the Zoomer experience today. TikTok. Just look at this Hootsuite graph: 

apps and advertising to gen z

Almost 50 hours per month is spent on TikTok and YouTube. TikTok is THE social media for short-form content. If you want to appeal to Gen Z you should be there. 

But being on TikTok doesn’t mean winning TikTok. Authenticity is extremely important for Gen Z. We’ve listed the features of this generation in the previous section of this article. You simply can’t fool Zoomers. They see fakeness, they don’t tolerate it, they will destroy you for it. That’s why if you are going on TikTok, play by the rules.

Another thing, Gen Z uses social media for shopping. In fact, a whopping 83% of Zoomers actively shop on social media. That’s why social media advertising is a fertile ground for appealing to Gen Z and making them make a purchase.

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