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3 ways to reach the Gen Zs

Baoxuan Tan

August 30, 2022

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Do a quick search on Google on how to target Gen Zs and you will see pages of similar advice. Produce eye-catching and visual content, use interactive polls, stickers or slides to engage, the list goes on and on. While these strategies are useful in targeting Gen Zs, how can you ensure these are sufficient, seeing how many other brands are adopting and using the same tactics? How should you approach this and what more can you do? 

First, let’s identify some of Gen Z’s key characteristics so you can better tailor your brand strategy to them.

Gen Zs are purpose-driven.

 Do you truly believe in something – beyond money – that makes the world a better place? According to Euromonitor International, Gen Zs’ purchase decisions are defined by their values and life priorities. This makes it increasingly important for you to understand what values your brand wishes to stand for. Are you going to be stewards of the environment? Or do you plan to give back to the community? These are questions you need to answer to build a business that truly attracts Gen Z.

Gen Zs are drawn to brands that keep it real.

“Brand trust is only second to price in terms of determining what brands we’re going to support”

75% of Gen Zs are happy to pay more for products or services from a brand they believe to be genuine, especially about the origins of the products. As you convey your brand values, ensure you practise what you preach. If you wish to emphasize your commitment to sustainability, make sure to stand by it and not do it half-heartedly, because your consumers will find out. Gen Zs need to know they can trust your brand to deliver what you say. But make sure not to go overboard with it as well, as they typically reject content that feels too polished.

Gen Zs crave connectivity and connection despite wanting to be unique.

Born and bred in the digital age, Gen Zs are natural storytellers who share their daily highlights on social media platforms. In a survey with 350 Gen Z consumers, 70% of them chose to join a community for a feeling of ‘belonging’. The Gen Zs surveyed also shared that they rely on online communities to inform and teach them about real world issues and what they can do to help. Focus on fostering a long-term relationship with the Gen Zs and helping them form a community where they can be accepted for their individuality.

Now that we have laid out these characteristics, how might you build up your brand amongst the Gen Zs? The key is to be consistent, increase your visibility online and be authentic. Stand true to who you are and not fake it.

Photo by Callum Shaw on Unsplash

1) Support a cause and be true to it.

Start by identifying a cause close to your brand values and make the effort to support it. Championing a cause allows you to take a stand and gain traction with the relevant consumers. Take Lush for example – Lush takes a strong stand against animal cruelty. In their Lush Fighting Animal Testing Campaign, they showcased a live demonstration of animal testing by engaging a performance artist to act as the ‘test subject’. The demonstration depicts graphic and brutal scenes that left a strong impression in people’s minds. While criticisms were received, response from the public were largely positive; people are grateful to be informed about this ongoing practice and to learn that there is something they can do to make it end. This group of consumers are also more likely to support Lush products. Your marketing campaigns need not be entirely product-focused, sometimes sharing what your brand stands for also helps to shine the limelight on your brand, allowing you to build your brand awareness.

While social and environmental causes may not be mission critical to your brand, they are increasingly important. We recommend you not  make it a separate business focus, and instead find ways to infuse them into your products, services, and customer experiences. If you have not begun, it’s time to start now. While you may not be prepared to go the full extent, you can always start small. If you are supporting a cause, look out for other activities you can partake in, join an association, or attend a conference. Then, share your efforts online as part of your visual, eye-catching content. The idea is to go deep and not just donate money or join events just to take beautiful photos. Be truly present in championing your cause.

Photo by Joël de Vriend on Unsplash

2) Be transparent about your actions.

It is not enough to simply share what your brand supports. You must also be transparent about what you are doing to support it. In the past, it was the norm for businesses to keep a few secrets from the public, from how products are sourced to what their environmental impact might be. These days, consumers want to know more about the behind-the-scenes and get into the nitty gritty of what you are doing. You may choose to share this information on your website, like what Nestle did with their palm oil transparency dashboard that tracks their progress in achieving deforestation-free palm oil. You may also consider different platforms and means of sharing this information, such as YouTube videos to feature how your products are sourced or redesign your product packaging to include key details on the product source. A good example would be this Patagonia video that shares a snippet of how they are recycling discarded plastic fishing nets to something wearable.

Photo by Katie Moum on Unsplash

3) Build a community.

Lastly, it is imperative to make your Gen Zs consumers feel like they are part of your community. Identify opportunities to allow audiences to share their thoughts and interact with your brand. Expedia used a #throwmeback campaign to invite the general public to share their stories. This led to as much as 300,000 engagements and 96% Instagram growth in just 10 weeks! Building an online community enables word-of-mouth marketing and helps you increase your brand visibility online. The easiest way to do so is via platforms that Gen Zs use frequently such as Instagram or TikTok. These creator platforms also open a world of opportunities for brands. Check out this article on the creator economy and what brands might do about it.

Branding to the Gen Zs is more than your typical interactive TikTok and Instagram content. At the end of the day, it requires a business strategy behind it that starts with what your brand stands for and cascades it down to other operational layers like marketing, supply chain etc. With every different group of audience you are targeting, make sure you understand what they are looking for and how your brand might be able to create that experience for them.

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