How to Market to Gen Z, Sincerely, a Zennial
Updated: Sep 14
Hey! If you don't know, I'm Jacquelyn, and I was born in 1997. Some may call me a millennial, some may call me part of gen z, others may call me what I really am: a confused zennial. Zennials are a micro-generation spanning the gap in time between the analog and digital age. We're an oxymoron of a generation, both the "lazy millennial" and the "activist zoomer."
I remember loading AOL's infamous CD-ROM's on a CRT monitor, the excitement of the first iPhone's release (I was ten, if you want to feel old), and playing with the yellowed, coily cord of a landline. I grew up in my neighborhood's cul-de-sac, drawing elaborate chalk houses, playing on all the swing sets, and playing couch co-op video games (shout out to the Sims) with my sister. I remember, even if not fully consciously, what life was life before 9/11. And I definitely felt the impact of the consequences of its fallout.
But that wasn't the only thing that affected my perspective. I grew up as a "gifted" child and spent my whole life endlessly accelerating into the unknown. I skipped grades, graduated two and a half years early, and took calculus at college at 14. My life sort of tracked with the growth of technology. I've spent my life in a constant state of uncertainty and instability, good and bad, be it political, medical, environmental, emotional, financial, or whatever else you can think of.
This concept of accelerating change is based in an individual's perspective, suggesting continuously faster increases in the rate of change throughout the whole of history, regardless of the objective rate. As we age, and as society progresses, these changes can heavily impact the way society operates. Nobody uses carbon paper to manually imprint credit cards anymore, right? Instead, I pay instantly, with my face or my wrist as the identifier. The sheer explosion of content and technology in the past two decades is incomprehensible, and I've loved nothing more than to consume as much information and learn as much as I possibly can. Keeping ahead of the curve and capturing the zeitgeist is what I do best, and I strive to incorporate this knowledge into my work.
According to the market research firm Yankelovich, Inc., the average person can encounter up to 10,000 advertisements on a daily basis, doubling in just about a decade from 5,000 in 2007, and up to 1,500 in the early 70s. Even with these staggeringly high numbers, we only really take note of about 100 of these. Most people don't even trust big business' marketing, because it lacks transparency and honesty.
And that's what gen z wants. No gimmicks, no cringe, no fake personality. They want the real you, because that's what's interesting. I've worked with clients that could easily be my grandparents, but, they're comfortable with being their authentic self. Whether it's personal or business, authenticity is the best way to market to younger demographics, and truly, it won't hurt you with the older market either. Our generation is tired of the same old, perfect airbrushing. We crave the reality, we want to see pores, stretch marks, and imperfections, both physically and metaphorically. Show your struggles, your disabilities, your failings, as well as your strengths and successes. Be authentically you.