An Introduction to Generation Z Marketing


For years now, marketing people have obsessed about the emotional inner-workings and hot buttons of the millennials (AKA, “Generation Y”). But as important as the millennials are, there is a new generation that is starting to eclipse them: “Generation Z.”

This societal group includes individuals from roughly 12 years of age to 19–– which already has an impressive $44 billion in purchasing power.

According to Women’s Wear Daily, Generation Z is the “next big retail disrupter.” The director of JWT’s Innovation Group calls these buy-spending youngsters “millennials on steroids.” But to simply lump this emerging Z crowd in with the millennials would be a mistake. These two groups have key differences that are not as subtle as one might think.

One giant developmental distinction between the millennials and Generation Z is where September 11 landed in their lifetimes. Raised in the peaceful boom times of the 1990s, the 2001 attacks turned the millennials’ world upside down. Generation Z, by contrast, has grown up in the midst of a multicultural world of holy wars, IEDs and the Great Recession. These folks are born realists.

Lucie Green of the Innovation Group has dubbed Modern Family’s second born Dunphy daughter, Alex, as the quintessential “Gen Z’er.” Green describes Alex as “conscientious, hard-working, somewhat anxious and mindful of the future.” This is Generation Z in a nutshell.

They are cautious, sober and hard to disappoint. They drink and smoke less than their millennial predecessors. They buckle up for safety. And, by and large, they are entertaining fairly pragmatic careers.

As digitally versed as the millennials have been, Generation Z is the first generation to be raised in a world of smartphones, phablets and smart TVs.

They also have an amazingly short attention span. Generation Z downloads its information instantly and loses interest just as fast. Dan Schawbel of Millennial Branding cautions that if advertisers “don’t communicate in five words and a big picture, they will not reach this generation.” Think Instagram, Vine, Whisper and SnapChat.


So how do you market to Generation Z? Very carefully. Here are some tips.

Become post-digital.
This group is online, but the term “online” is no longer a relevant distinction. The Internet is just a utility to them, not some cultural paradigm shift.

They are people, not “teens.”
Gen Z is not to be talked down to. They are not teenagers; they are content creators and world changers.

Help them change the world.
These folks want a better world. If your brand has a cause, they will likely be more into it.

Stop subdividing humanity.
This group is far less tribal. They are less likely to see people as black, white, Asian and Latino. Friends are simply friends, not “my gay friend” or “my black friend.”

Don’t make them wait.
Whether you are selling technology or tacos, this group expects it fast.

Step out of the mainstream.
Celebrate the niche and the new. Chances are it may be Generation Z’s next big thing.

There are approximately 60 million American-born Gen Z’ers in the world today. This group out-numbers their millennial siblings by a full million. If you need help reaching out to this unique generation, Agency Creative would love to help. Give us a call at 972.488.1660.

We are a Dallas advertising agency with extensive expertise in brand marketing.