Why Your Online Marketing Strategy Needs to Cater to Millennials and Gen Z
In 2019, Gen Z will surpass Millennials as the most populous generation, comprising roughly 32% of the population. Since the birth of the Internet, brands have looked to Millennials for advice on the latest trends and influences. But with the influx of Gen Z, brands must now revamp their marketing strategies to cater to both generations.
Neglecting to look at the world through the lens of a Millennial or member of Gen Z will lead to the slow death of a brand. Online advertising in the form of social media — and even in more blunt tactics such as remarketing — creates truly addressable and trackable collective experiences. While this may make some large brand marketers squeamish, online is where everything is consumed for the rising generations. And it’s where brands need to exist to make their voices heard.
Reaching and engaging with different audiences is where online advertising truly excels. Marketers afraid to experiment and innovate are more at risk by trying to reach these generations with a broad message on traditional channels, instead of targeting them with personalized ads based on available data about them and their friends. Today’s customers aren’t watching “must-see” network programming, but these programs are most definitely advertising their favorite brands: Starbucks, not McDonald’s or Wendy’s, and Glossier, not L’Oréal or Maybelline. Instagram can target truly based on the interests of their tribe — and they are acutely aware of it.
The Power Of Social Advertising For Gen Z
Gen Z spends an average of 2 hours 43 minutes a day on social media. All of Gen Z’s population have grown up with technology and are comfortable with sharing their lives online. They want their network to engage with their content and live in a world where a ‘like’ is equivalent to a compliment in real life (IRL). In order for marketers to successfully engage with this group, it’s important to be equally relevant both online and offline — hence, the power of social advertising.
The biggest distinction for the Gen Z generation is that they want their favorite brands to stand for something. We’ve seen it with Nike and Colin Kaepernick. Airbnb and the ‘We Accept’ campaign. P&G’s ‘Like a Girl’ and ‘We See Equal’ initiatives. This audience responds better when the brands they favor are speaking out on social media on the social issues that affect their communities, through online advertising. But the biggest point to remember is the message must be truthful. Gen Z customers are discerning, and can easily sniff out a brand’s disingenuous messaging. Moreover, not only will they call out a brand for hypocrisy or a contrived marketing scheme, but they may likely band together to boycott the brand.
Similar to how groups of customers can be segmented into generational audiences, so can companies. As e-Commerce continues to dominate shopping habits, direct-to-consumer (DTC) companies have sprouted in droves. These companies excel not only at social media engagement but at online advertising and owning customer relationships, specifically targeting Gen Z. Brands like Casper, Warby Parker and Dollar Shave Club are working with influencers to drive the brand message, and are creating seamlessly integrated ads. The DTC model reflects the Gen Z way of marketing: know your audience and create a genuine connection with them.
The Millennial Advantage: Online And Offline
Whereas Gen Z has grown up with technology and the Internet, Millennials have lived in a world before it existed. They understand how traditional marketing and advertising works, whether through a direct mail or TV ad. Millennials are also slower to post their lives on social platforms, averaging 6 hours and 19 minutes on social media each week. Employed Millennials between the ages of 25 and 34 spend 6.4 hours a day checking their email, while more than a third check their work mail before leaving the bed.
Because of this distinction, marketers must cater to understand how to directly connect with Millennials outside of social platforms. Yes, they exist on social, and yes, they want to connect with brands there. But they also value a personalized email blast or anything that demonstrates that you understand their interests.
Additionally, Millennials tend to value the relationship and experiences that brands are creating. They love to participate and are candid about their feedback. As a brand, it’s important to create an outlet for a Millennial to connect, either through a social media contest or a product review. La Croix is a great example of a brand that is bringing the product into a social conversation. By asking customers to tag their Instagram photos with #lacroix, the brand is creating a one-to-one connection with its fans.
Putting It All Together
There are more insights into target audiences than ever before. Marketers know exactly how customers are engaging with social content and which types of ads or messages lead to purchases. Millennials and Gen Z are telling marketers exactly what interests them, across the platforms they use the most. Instagram and Snapchat ads work because it’s where these customers are.
If marketers are not targeting Gen Z and Millennials with personalized online ads based on what you know about them and their friends, on the social platforms they’re using, you risk being completely left behind. Consumers live in a digital era. These audiences are unlikely to respond to a broad message delivered in a TV commercial or on the side of a highway.
As Gen Z continues to attract and retain media attention and drive social media usage, savvy brands should tailor their online advertising strategies to stay ahead of the curve. As for Millennials, with their over $1 trillion in purchasing power, it’s vital for marketers to speak to this generation’s interests and needs.