5 Strategies for Your 2020 Gen Z Marketing Plan



In 2020, it’ll be a must for your brand to be authentic, tap into nostalgia, be socially responsible, adopt a mobile-first strategy, and use influencer marketing when connecting with Gen Z.


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Throughout the past decade, we’ve marketed to millennials and simultaneously made predictions and projections about the next generation: Gen Z.

With $44 billion in purchasing power and devoting nearly 75 percent of their free time online, it is critical to have a social media strategy to target them. Not to mention, come next year they’ll account for 40 percent of all consumers in the U.S.

To help prepare you, here are 5 key strategies you’ll want to keep in mind:

Capitalize on blasts from the past

Brands steeped in the past are increasingly becoming awakened to the numerous opportunities of nostalgia marketing. Movies, including Disney remakes of Aladdin and the Lion King, TV shows such as Stranger Things, are proven successes for one reason: in an era of impersonal digital media, nostalgia is the tried-and-true avenue for forging sustainable consumer ties.

Digital natives are constantly measuring themselves up to the perfectly contoured, curated Instagram photos. When a brand can forge meaningful connections between past and present, they not only deliver the euphoria of taking that trip down memory lane, but they satisfy a hunger for relatability, authenticity, and trust.

A recent example of a brand that did just this is Nokia. In a major throwback to the early 2000s, the company recently released a 2019 version of the classic flip phone updated with the social media needs of users today like WhatsApp, Facebook, and Google Assistant. “[This] phone is ideal for you if you are looking for a digital detox,” said Juho Sarvikas, Chief Product Officer at HMD Global (Nokia’s parent company), at the launch event.

Champion is yet another example. Through collaborations with trendy products like Supreme and Undefeated that received widespread media attention, paired with celebrities like Kylie Jenner and Chance the Rapper rocking the clothes, it wasn’t long before the brand hit full-blown come back mode.

Don’t try too hard

Being authentic to your communities and audience members means above all, being true to yourself. It truly is that simple, yet something that carries a profound impact with respect to being able to establish and maintain meaningful engagement.

When National Geographic made its first attempt at Snapchat it went in with tremendous efforts to be “young,” “cool,” and “hip.” After finding this felt too forced and was unsuccessful, the brand reassessed and made the more effective move to lean back into who the brand truly was at its core and shift its priority towards emphasizing first-party storytelling.

White Claw, also known as the alcoholic beverage of summer 2019, employed the approach of letting its consumers do the marketing. Aside from a few appearances, including being a sponsor at this year’s Kentucky Derby, the company doesn’t push itself onto the public.

“We want to let consumers have the conversation they want to have,” said Sanjiv Gajiwala, 39, the senior vice president of marketing at White Claw. “I’m not interested in forcing myself into a conversation they’re already having about me. I’m grateful they’re having that conversation.”

Doritos, too, is taking note of such trends and is running a new ad campaign sans its own logo. The “Anti-Ad” called “Another Level” relies on its familiar, triangular shape and red and blue bags for familiarity but the marketing stops there. “The following is a paid message for a chip so iconic we don’t need to name it, cause this is an ad with no logos, no jingles, no gimmicks, just those red and blue bags with the stuff you love in it,” the video opens. Added to this, the company created a Snapchat lens encouraging users to turn their face into a triangle.

Adopt a mobile-first strategy

With smartphones being Gen Z’s device of choice it’s not shocking that 53 percent of the demographic are using these devices to make purchases. Platforms are recognizing this and making moves to incorporate ways to make in-app purchases and enhancing the quality of their content boosting its appearances on mobile screens.

Instagram, for instance, recently unveiled “shopping tags,” giving users the ability to tag brands in their photos to promote their apparel and their followers the opportunity to check out the brand themselves. Additionally, a “Swipe up” feature takes individuals directly to that specific product page if they decide to make a purchase.

Forty-percent of consumers report they won’t recommend a business to a friend or relative that they had a bad experience with, so the moral here is making the social shopping process as positive and painless as possible. A few easy ways to do this are:

  • Make sure your site operates as fast as possible
  • Break up large chunks of text with subheads so they’re digestible on mobile screens
  • Design mobile-friendly forms, pop-ups, and opt-ins

Notions of speed aside, videos have become a viral way to communicate on mobile. In 2019, 70 percent of consumers have shared a brand’s video on social media and more than 70 percent of businesses credit video with boosting their conversion rate. Fifty-two percent of consumers say watching product promos instills them with confidence when making online purchase decisions.

Be socially responsible

Per a recent Marketing Dive report, Gen Z is three times more likely to say that the purpose of business is to “serve communities and society.” Whatever environmental or social cause resonates with your brand, identify authentic ways to share this story in your messaging that will encourage your followers to get involved. These positive values are reliable indicators that your brand will stand out in a sea of competition and set the stage for long-term relationships with your audience.

S’well’s Million Bottle Project is a great example. The initiative aims to displace 100 million single-use plastic bottles by 2020. The company recently launched a Million Bottle Corporate Challenge to work with other brands to create positive change and uses the hashtag #reducetheuse to promote positive practices and spread the word.

Similarly, TOMS’ campaign “Stand for Tomorrow” allows its customers to pick an issue area that they stand for and have the money from their purchase of a TOMS product go directly to supporting that cause. Mental health, equality, safe water, and homelessness are a few examples.

Use influencer marketing

Gen Z is notorious for exerting caution when choosing what they buy and who they buy it from. They tend to do a lot of research and are less likely to trust a brand from the get-go. They prefer endorsements from celebrities compared to traditional ads, but only if they come across as genuine.

That said, as marketers, we have a due diligence to ensure our influencer partnerships are the result of a process in which we ascertain the message comes from the right person. In other words, the influencer’s views and values should map onto what you stand for. You may come to find a traditional A-lister won’t fit these criteria and that is totally fine. That’s where micro-influencers are coming into play.

These social-media users typically boast a smaller, yet more impactful following of roughly several thousand to 100,000 followers. Unlike the larger names, micro-influencers could be someone we know and are more likely to facilitate sentiments of likability. Per recent Nielsen research, 92 percent of consumers trust recommendations from people they know.

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