The first thing any marketer should do before they start conceptualizing designs for a graphic or language for a campaign is to identify their audience.
The customer profiles that a marketer chooses to sift through can be anything from gender to geographic location, but overall, these specifications should align with who you’re selling your service or product to.
Another way to market your products or services is by looking at the age of your audience. When marketers are the same age as their audience, it can sometimes be easier to identify traits and characteristics that these groups generally display.
But what if your target audience is made up of the two youngest generations on the planet?
Gen Z and Millennial marketing
It doesn’t always take one to know one.
Millennials and Generation Z have been scrutinized for being attached to their phones, not taking the time to write out complete sentences, and having the attention span of a goldfish.
But if you’re trying to market to these generations, there’s a lot more to them than meets the eye. As a marketer, you should know better to fall into the immediate stereotypes that come to mind and take the time to do some research. These two generations are often mixed together and confused by marketers, but there are things that are independent to each generation.
If you’re trying to market to one, or both of these generations, keep reading. Below, we’ll go over the characteristics of each group of people and some of the ways you can use your knowledge of these traits to market successfully.
Who are Millennials?
Born between the years of 1981 and 1996, millennials make up almost a quarter of the U.S. population and were born in the age of DVDs and flip phones. If your target audience fits between mid-teens to late 30s, it’s not unlikely that these people will identify with one or more of the following traits. However, it’s important to know that not all millennials will fall into these characterizations. In that same vein, there may be people from other generations who identify more closely with this generation than their own.
Millennials are keen on quick Google searches to their burning questions, regardless of whether they’re related to pop culture, the news, or product research. Not only are they savvy on the search engine, but social media also plays an enormous role in the lives of millennials. Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook are often checked before the average millennial brushes their teeth in the morning.
Millennials value experiences, sometimes over the tangible goods that come with them. This value of experience bleeds into the importance of the way that companies sell their products and services.
How to market to millennials
If millennials fall into your target audience, it’s important to not only know these traits, but how you can use them to market to your advantage.
1. Interact authentically
Millennials have experienced more advertising on more platforms than any generation beforehand. Because of this enormous exposure to slogans, jingles, and flashy lights, the effect is wearing off. What once excited millennials has become mundane. This means marketers need to revert to what’s natural: honesty. When it comes to millennial marketing, cutting out the fluff and being straightforward doesn’t mean adopting their slang and using their memes in your marketing tactics – it just means cutting to the chase.
Although this may seem like the opposite of most marketing efforts, that’s exactly the point. Not enough companies are taking the time to be transparent and authentic, meaning that your short copy and succinct content will be sure to stand out and earn future customers, just for keeping it simple.
2. Have a blog
Creating a blog is a way to turn your company from an abstract concept into a group of authentic people who will take the time to research common questions that those millennials are always Googling on the go. Millennials also rely heavily on blogs to make a purchasing decision, meaning that blogs are just another opportunity to prove that you’re transparent, informed, and dedicated to your audience, and gives them more than one way to find you and what you’re selling.
3. Encourage user-generated content (UGC)
Social media is full of shares, likes, and comments, and millennials eat it up. One way to take advantage of this trait is to encourage this generation to create user-generated content (UGC). UGC is content that your followers, customers, and fans create around what you’re trying to sell. Real people sharing real reviews of your products or services in a public manner establishes more trust than if you were to have an employee review that same product. Don’t just accumulate UGC, make sure to share it as well. An e-commerce platform can host UGC in the form of reviews, pictures, comments, and more that can push someone on the edge over to buy your product.
There’s no bias, only social proof. Those millennials who do create user-generated content will end up with plenty of likes and shares, and you’ll not only be reaching your own audience, but theirs, too. If you’re willing to take it one step further, a social media giveaway can boost your following and maximize the UGC shared.
4. Prioritize mobile
93% of millennials own a smartphone, making it imperative that whatever you’re creating, whether it’s a website or marketing materials, you optimize for mobile, too. If a millennial types a query into Google and stumbles upon your website, that’s fantastic news. If they realize that the material on there isn’t optimized for mobile experiences, they’ll be out the door in no time.
Web design, blogs, email marketing, you name it: everything should all be optimized for mobile. Not only will it look better to those who come across your site, but pages and images can quickly be shared to social media via smartphones. Not optimizing for mobile would be an enormous missed opportunity.
Who is Gen Z?
Generation Z makes up 27.7% of the population, making them the largest generation in U.S. history. Unlike millennials, who witnessed the technology takeover, Gen Z was born into social media and smartphones, with literally no memory of time before the Internet was available at their fingertips.
But just because they’ve had access to a digital lifestyle since birth doesn’t mean they’re easy to market to. With a quick wit and a short attention span, this generation isn’t always easy to impress.
How to market to Gen Z
Don’t think you have time for video editing? Think again. Hiring marketers who know how to navigate video editing software may be one of the best decisions you ever make if your audience is full of Generation Z.
In 2018, Pew found that 85% of teens were using YouTube to gain knowledge or learn a new skill, and they’re consuming it almost 3.5 hours daily. In other words, if your audience is Gen Z and you’re not using video platforms, you’re doing it wrong. Even creating short video content on apps like Instagram or TikTok can make a difference in brand awareness among your younger audience.
Are you using email marketing but struggling to connect to the Gen Z age group? Try incentivising them.
Email newsletters can often feel generic and impersonal; two things that wouldn’t push anyone to open your email, but will especially deter Generation Z. Using their name, including a unique subject line, and providing them with special deals that are exclusive to your email marketing campaigns will not only help that open rate soar, but increase your conversion rate, too.
A/B testing your emails with marketing automation software can help to give you a better idea of the successfulness of your subject lines and the content you include within your newsletters so that, as you move forward, you can do so intelligently.
More and more, we’re seeing how much Gen Z interacts with and looks up to influencers. Why not use them in your marketing campaigns?
Before you get started, know that simply placing any influencer in your ad isn’t going to do the trick – Gen Z, like Millennials, appreciate authenticity. Hard sells don’t come off that way.
When working with an influencer for a campaign, make sure that their values align with both your brand and your audience. Be sure to diversify the influencers that you use in order to expand upon certain values and ensure that as many people can identify with them as possible. Finally, be genuine. Generation Z has been exposed to an incomparable amount of media in their lives; they know what’s sincere and what’s not.
4. Make it quick
One of the jabs often made at Gen Z is that their attention span is ridiculously short. While stereotypical, it’s also true: Gen Z’s average attention span is 8 seconds. No matter what medium you’re using to market, take this face into account.
Think about it. The apps this generation uses involve content that can be digested quickly and easily before moving onto the next piece of media. Delivering a message effectively and creatively in 8 seconds isn’t easy by any means, but achieving this could set you up for success with the world’s largest generation (so far.)
Time to shift
Millennials and Gen Z are the youngest of existing generations, but combined, they have the largest purchasing power of any generation. Whether your marketing team is in-house and you’re using your own resources or you’re making use of an agency with their marketing agency software, marketing to these groups isn’t something that can be done easily. It takes a lot of effort to learn about their habits, how they absorb information, and how to motivate them. Implementing the above strategies and taking the uniqueness of each generation into account will help you reach your audience in a more relevant and effective way.