Marketing to the next generation

You’d only need to look at your grandparents, your parents or your slightly annoying 13-year-old cousin to see that every generation has its differences. Marketers make use of these differences through generational marketing, and the newest set of consumers is “Generation Z”.

When segmenting markets, marketers often look at differentiating factors such as gender, race, income level, geographic location and level of education in order to figure out how to target a specific market. Generational marketing is one of these segmentation styles which looks at the target’s generation instead.

What is generational marketing?

According to Graeme Codrington, a future trends specialist from TomorrowToday Global, generational marketing is a version of marketing segmentation analysis that makes use of ‘Generational Theory’.

He says; “In addition to many other demographic and sociographic divides, like personality economics status education, Generational Theory looks at the era in which you were born, and this allows us to look at forces that shaped your values.”

Jason Levin, managing director at HDI Youth Marketeers, explains that they make use of generational marketing because their belief is that target market specialisations are more useful and more relevant than agency specialisation (such as above-the-line versus digital versus PR and so on).

Who is Generation Z?

We all know about Gen Y and Gen X, but the youngest generation of consumers are a new and complex market, and marketers will need to change their strategies to reach them.

“Gen Z are defined in different ways, but we define them as current teens (born after 2000),” says Levin. This generation is different to previous ones in that they are more influential over household decisions and purchases than their predecessors. Levin also says that they are tech-obsessed (having grown up with the Internet), entitled, open-minded, highly informed (again, thanks to the Internet) ambitious and fame-seeking.

The differences between generations can often be overstated, and there is not that big of a difference between Gen Z and Gen Y, says Codrington. But the small differences can be a game changer.

One such difference is that Gen Z show the least brand loyalty of any consumer generation. You only need to look at the top 500 YouTube channels, where less than 20 of them are of brands.

Marketing to Gen Z

To market to these consumers, it is essential to consider who they are and what they care about as they are critically conscious consumers. “Showing a deep concern for them as people and as consumers, for their communities and for their world,” is how marketers should target this generation, says Levin.

For Codrington, marketers have to “catch on to the people who are making an impact in their space and use them as brand ambassadors”. He says that to marketers, these people might not always be who they’d expect.

In fact, the top YouTube channel is that of PewDiePie, a young Swedish man who comments on Let’s Play games. “This might make no sense to a 35-year-old marketer or a 45-year-old advertising head, but that has caused a massive stir,” says Codrington.

“You have to use that as a route in. You might not even know that that route exists, but you’ve got to find some way to connect with the channels that they are in,” he adds.

Another way to appeal to Gen Z, according to an article in Entrepreneur by Christie Garton, is to give them a “cool” product, but to “focus on quality first”. Gen Z have the technology and the ability to use it, and they will do extensive research before buying something.

Although Codrington does believe that it might be a bit too early to define this market entirely, he does offer a last bit of advice: “Do what any good marketers had done before: Learn their language, go where they are and give them something that they want.”

By Kristy Hesom for

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