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As Generation Z emerges from their older millennial siblings’ shadows, they expect brands to play by their rules.

Appealing to this digitally savvy and empowered audience requires reevaluating your marketing strategy to better connect your company’s content with them.

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To get inside the post-millennial mind, Streamly (owned by CMI parent company Informa) interviewed several youth marketing experts at Content Marketing World. Here’s what they say about what makes Gen Z consumers tick and click and what brands must do to win their attention, trust, and loyalty.

Support of Gen Z’s goals and identities

Even though the tail end of the generation hasn’t yet reached adulthood, they already have tremendous influence in the marketplace. A 2021 report from Bloomberg (subscription required) put their estimated disposable income at $360 million. But, growing up in an era of financial instability, Gen Z tends to be savers, not spenders.

To get them to pay attention to (let alone spend with) your brand, you must prove your worth. That starts by meeting Gen Z’s need to be understood and for their values to be upheld.

Likely the most diverse U.S. population in history, 48% of Gen Z is non-white, according to 2018 data from Pew Research Center, followed by millennials (39%) and Gen X (30%). Furthermore, according to a Gallup poll, 20.8% of Gen Z identifies as LGBT.

Those characteristics may factor into their attitudes around equality and social justice – and why they often spend with brands that share their views. Almost three-fourths (72%) say they’re likelier to purchase from brands that contribute to social causes, according to a WP Engine report on generational influence.

Yet, Women in Revenue’s Deanna Ransom says that isn’t a simple equation: “With young folks that are marginalized, there is an extreme passion and need to be heard accurately,” she says. “They’re more mission-driven [and willing] to put themselves out there across multiple platforms to say, ‘We will not stand for this.’”

Deanna characterizes this attitude as “radical intolerance” for the systemic barriers that impede Gen Z’s goals. To attract this generation, marketers should communicate their alignment with that intolerance and back up those words with action.

“They consciously look for companies who do good in the world, stand for more diversity, and want that inclusion. And they will vote with their dollars to support brands helping shift the narrative,” Deanna says.

A lovely example of an inclusive story comes from the whiskey brand J+B. It delivered a heartwarming holiday video on transgender acceptance to its audience in Spain – with a surprising, multi-generational twist.

The non-spoken spot features an older man as the central character. He borrows, shops for, and tries on cosmetics, clocking the judgmental stares of shopkeepers.

He remains undeterred in his purposeful mission. Ultimately, viewers realize he did it to empower his young grandchild to come out to their family as transgender. (Note: YouTube has an age restriction for the video.)

Though a single video is one small gesture, the effort speaks volumes about the whiskey brand’s vision of acceptance and understanding of Gen Z’s drive to live authentically.

This content was written by Jodi Harris for CMI, an Informa Company.


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