January 11, 2022
Gen Z explained
Gen Z (or iGen), aka everyone born between 1996 and 2012, are taking the digital world by storm. Raised on social media, this gen is known as the social warriors, openly speaking up about what they think is right. They are soon to be (if not already) the largest cohort of consumers – so it’s important to understand who they are, what they think and how to market to them.

Consumption of content

Gen Zers consume content so fast you’ll forget to blink. With the rise of TikTok, grabbing Gen Z’s attention and engagement is especially challenging. Therefore it’s important for your brand to create valuable content (ideally short-form videos) and have a multi-channel approach to digital marketing. Gen Zers are all across TikTok, YouTube and Instagram – how are you positioning your brand on their screens? If you’re running ads, scrap the notion that a Gen Zer will make a purchase decision based on seeing it on their feed (because they won’t) and embrace the opportunity to educate them about the brand and product.

Value alignment

One way to gain Gen Z’s trust is by aligning your brand’s values with theirs in real and actionable ways. They mobilise themselves for a variety of causes and they expect brands to similarly take a stance on important issues. Data privacy, inclusivity and environmental sustainability are just a few examples. It’s not about having a politically correct position, but rather picking specific topics that make sense for the brand and having something to say about it.

A study found that 51% of Gen Z make a purchase decision based on alignment with the brand’s corporate social responsibility. The trick here is not to seem “performative” when you communicate your brand’s values – you have to mean it and show that you mean it through action. If your brand is environmentally friendly, do you use only recyclable materials and packaging? Are you partnered with Greenfleet or Trace to offset your carbon footprint? If you promote diversity but showcase none of it on the feed through your brand’s content, the contradiction will be noticed and the trust will be lost. If you talk about it, make sure you can back up your claim. Gen Zers are far too savvy to not see through a thinly veiled value.


Having grown up on social media, Gen Zers have seen it all. So if your brand is not authentic, they will spot you from a mile away with their “BS barometer”. TikTok has been successful in migrating Gen Z onto this platform because the short form videos are often personal and genuine. They are usually filmed and posted with little to no editing and they’re not at all perfect. That is the beauty of it. Brands who are able to present themselves in a similar fashion will get Gen Z’s tick of approval. If you are a skincare brand, show the audience a real life product swatch. If you’re a small business who makes candles, show them the behind the scenes of the making of the product. If you’re a service provider, get in front of the camera and explain what you do and what your business stands for. These pieces don’t have to be polished but they do have to be authentic; show the hard sides or areas that your business is lacking in at the moment. Owning that and then explaining how you’re going to improve, and being as transparent and honest as possible is where you’ll win this audience.

Living the individual truth

Consumption is Gen Z’s way of manifesting an individual identity. They buy as a means of self-expression. This generation is less inclined towards fitting in with the norm, but rather are eager for personalisation and are willing to pay more to showcase their identity. Value alignment and personalisation go hand in hand as what they buy is an extension of them. For example, purchasing products that are 100% vegan and cruelty free is more than just supporting a brand that shares their values, it’s also an expression of who they are.

The first generation of true digital natives – Gen Z – is influencing online trends and behaviours profoundly, leading the change in consumption patterns. Understanding this up and coming generation and adjusting strategies to target this audience is a challenge, however it’s also an opportunity with great potential. Your brand could literally blow up overnight if you manage to nail it. With the new year ahead, review your business values, update your digital marketing strategy and stay ahead of the curve.