Engage Younger Shoppers With These Digital Advertising Techniques

October 15, 20196 Minutes

What can advertisers today learn about Generation Z, the group of consumers born from 1997 onward, according to Pew Research? By next year, Gen Z consumers age 10 to 22 will make up about 40 percent of all consumers. It will eventually increase to some 82 million consumers by 2026, Business Insider notes.

We know that Gen Zers are digital savants, with their early lives shaped by social media, mobile devices, and an on-demand lifestyle. As such, they are extremely adept at integrating offline and online experiences, and have very definite ideas on how they want to be marketed to and receive advertising. While generally seen as being skeptical of brands (and brand promises), 44 percent of Gen Z shoppers will provide personal data in exchange for a priority marketing experience.

In order to reach this demographic, some major advertisers, including Starbucks, MasterCard, and Doritos have removed logos and brand names from ad efforts in a bid to be more accommodating to Gen Z ad preferences. Will it work? How do you effectively advertise to a generation that’s grown up on advertising’s pervasiveness on the Internet and digital devices, but also prefers to exist in ad-free worlds like Netflix?

Let’s look at some key digital advertising techniques that well-meaning marketers and advertisers can use to reach this group of young consumers.

Be supportive of Gen Z causes and values. Recent studies point toward Gen Zers’ deep convictions on social issues, and less-extravagant views of consumption. McKinsey Consulting notes that Gen Zers are re-exploring the entire idea of product consumption, and what value, if any, it represents in their lives. They are more apt to seek out services rather than goods to satisfy their lifestyle needs. Instead of trying to sell products to these consumers, advertisers should look to providing value with access to these products. Overall, Gen Zers are more apt to trust companies (and their brands) when they believe these companies are concerned about consumers and society.

Be honest about brand characteristics. Brands need to be authentic and market themselves with value rather than false promises. Advertisers can focus more on the value they provide to a Gen Zer’s life by being honest about a product’s features. Speak clearly to this demographic about your brand’s key qualities, tough challenges, and future benefits.

Provide an authentic consumer experience. Members of Generation Z want to help shape conversations with brands. Through social media, Gen Zers can offer their individual experiences to brands. This engagement and participation invites examples of an authentic journey. Brands that capitalize on these interactions will likely find themselves gaining trust and buyer interaction.

Social media will play a key role. Gen Z users prefer brands to interact with them on Instagram and Snapchat, two of today’s hottest platforms for engagement and interactivity. A 2019 Piper Jaffray report found Instagram and Snapchat to be far ahead in interactions through advertising and engagement with Gen Zers. A standout example is eyeglass brand Warby Parker, which offers a pair of glasses to someone in need for every pair that is sold. That plays straight to the heart of Gen Zers. Brands can also learn new Instagram hacks to connect with Gen Z audiences and bring authentic experiences to them.

Don’t forget YouTube. Teens watch a ton of video. Nearly 90 percent are watching YouTube content at least once a week, and often far more frequently. Advertisers can appeal to teens’ short attention spans by employing 6-second bumper videos on YouTube.