Each generation is vastly different from the one that came before. Baby boomers enjoy different things than Gen X, and millennials are more technologically savvy than generations before them. Gen Z is the first generation to have known digital immediacy such as the internet and cell phones throughout their lives. All the changes in the world and in our daily lives mean different marketing methods work better with different age groups.
Although the range for millennials versus Gen Zers varies according to which source you consult, one group studying the younger generations for the past decade recently chose 1996 as the last birth year for millennials (1981 to 1996). Anyone born in 1997 or later is a Gen Zer.
The youngest two generations have a lot of similarities that marketers use when creating messages for them, but there are also a few differences you should be aware of if you want to reach one particular segment or the other. Here are seven ways of reaching the younger generations and marketing to them.
1. Embrace Diversity
Research shows that post-millennials are ethnically diverse as a population, partly due to the shifting immigration patterns in the United States. However, millennials are also accepting of different types of people and appreciate brands that understand that the core issues of why they want to do business has nothing to do with race, background or similar factors.
Smart marketers reach the younger generations on an emotional level and embrace all types of people. While you certainly don’t have to take on controversial issues, you can still show that you love all your customers and can meet the needs of anyone who needs your product or service.
2. Use Video
You already know that the younger generations are tech-savvy, so using video as a means of marketing only makes sense. Every day, people collectively view 100 million hours of video on Facebook and 10 billion videos on Snapchat.
If you want to catch up to millennials where they spend the most time, online videos are a smart choice. However, keep in mind that the younger generation also likes things short and to the point, so don’t add endless hours of video they’ll never watch all the way through. Keep your video marketing short and focused for the best results.
3. Avoid Overselling
The younger generations are aware of typical marketing tactics such as bandwagon ads, and they don’t particularly like a hard sell. They much prefer someone to come right out and honestly admit they want to sell something and then share the advantages of using the product. Authenticity goes a long way with both millennials and Generation Z.
In a survey of 2,000 adults in the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia, researchers found that authenticity was one of the most important factors in who they chose to do business with. About 90% of millennials said authenticity matters most when choosing a brand.
4. Ignore Trends
Generation Z is notoriously difficult to target with marketing because they’re such a unique generation. They know who they are as individuals, and few of them follow the same trends as millennials or even others within their own generation. About 75% of Gen Zers claim that they don’t follow trends. If you want to market to the youngest generation, you truly must figure out what they want and personalize the experience for each individual.
5. Go Viral
What marketer doesn’t want their campaign to go viral and pick up thousands of shares and views from their target audience? That said, figuring out how to create an ad that millennials and Gen Xers want to share isn’t always easy. The two groups are diverse. Your best bet is to break down your audience even more than by age. What interests do people who buy your products or services have? Is there anything unique about them that makes them stand out as a group?
6. Help Them
Think about a typical day in the life of a younger person. They get up and listen to the radio on the way to work, where they hear endless advertisements. They see billboards along the way pushing more items on them. They get to work and open their email to find 15 spam messages. When they check social media on a break, they see more advertisements. It seems like everywhere they turn, someone wants something from them.
Your best marketing tactic is cutting through all that noise and instead of asking for something from them, showing them what you have to offer. How does your product or service make their lives better? What is the pain point your target audience deals with, and how do you solve that problem for them?
7. Rework Your Company Mission
The younger generation cares about the world around them and making a difference. If you don’t yet have a mission as a brand, look for one that you believe in but that also ties into your target audience. If your internal data shows that most of them care about environmental issues, consider a green initiative. However, you should also believe in whatever mission you take on. Remember, they’ll see right through you if you’re not being authentic.
If you already have a mission, make sure it’s clearly defined. While not everyone will care about the same things you do, they’ll be able to appreciate that you’re passionate about making a difference in the world and that you have a cause you stand behind.
More Ideas for Marketing to Younger People
Today’s youth have seen nearly every marketing tactic. They’re techies who want to be entertained and surprised by something new and engaging. Look at the latest technology in virtual reality and augmented reality, and see how to incorporate elements that appeal to a broad base. Keep on top of industry trends, but remember that Gen Zers don’t care about trends.
Track all your campaigns and monitor results so that you can repeat what works well for your particular audience and what doesn’t. Put yourself in the place of those you’re marketing to and you’ll have much more success than if you just belted out a few facts in your advertising.
Lexie is a graphic designer and UX strategist. She enjoys taking her goldendoodle on walks and checking out flea markets. Visit her design blog, Design Roast, and follow her on Twitter @lexieludesigner.