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5 Gen Z Marketing Strategies To Implement in 2021

Gen Z marketing requires more than simply selling a product. Born between 1996 and 2010, this generation is value-conscious and drawn to brands that “keep it real.”

They’re creative, bold, and the creators of many trends on TikTok, Instagram Reels, and other platforms. And they require a slightly different approach than their millennial counterparts.  

So how do you connect with a generation of digital experts? 

In this blog post, LaterCon speaker and PRZM co-founder Larry Milstein shares how to reach and connect with the Gen Z market in 2021 along with helpful brand examples in a free video workshop: 

Cool "teen-vibe" polaroids with text overlay of blog post title: "Gen Z Marketing: How to Reach A New Generation"

Who is Gen Z?

Young, tech savvy, and socially-minded, Gen Z is the most racially and ethnically diverse generation ever with a spending power of over $140 billion

Having grown up with smartphones, the Internet, and social media, these digital natives are more likely to buy from brands that have established clear values, are inclusive, and have a strong online community. 

 

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A post shared by PRZM (@helloprzm)

According to PRZM co-founder, Liz Toney, “They’re driving spending, are behind some of the largest behavioral and cultural shifts that we see today, and are also making decisions that will affect us for years to come.”

If you haven’t started thinking about this younger generation, 2021 is the perfect time to start. With a few strategies tailored specifically to Gen Z, you can tap into their audience and create content they’ll engage with — without alienating your current customers. 

Ready to create a solid Gen Z marketing strategy? Learn from Gen Z expert, Larry Milstein, in this free video workshop

Gen Z Marketing Strategies To Implement in 2021

#1: Establish Clear Values & Mission  

Before marketing to Gen Z, it’s important for your brand to have its values and mission established. But why does this matter?

“Gen Zers are much more inclined to vote with our dollars, and believe a brand’s values are a reflection of our own,” explains Gen Z expert (and Gen Zer!) Larry Milstein

Some topics that matter to Gen Z include: 

  • LGBTQ+ rights: 60% of Gen Zers think same-sex couples should be able to adopt children
  • Diversity: 60% of Gen Zers say increased racial and ethnic diversity is good for society
  • Social responsibility: 70% of Gen Zers try to purchase from companies they consider ethical

“We’re 3x more likely than older generations to believe a company has a role in improving society,” adds Larry. 

Take underwear brand Parade for example:

 

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A post shared by Parade (@parade)

Parade’s focus on body positivity and inclusivity is redefining the underwear industry. Their content not only helps to normalize stretch marks and body hair, but they value self-expression and are vocal advocates for LGBTQ+ rights and the decriminalization of sex work. 

With clearly defined values, Parade is able to differentiate itself from other brands in its industry and engage with Gen Z audiences. 

The takeaway? Establishing your brand’s values and communicating them effectively is key to connecting with Gen Z.

#2: Be Transparent & Accountable

The next step in your Gen Z marketing strategy is to ensure you’re being transparent and taking accountability for any missteps.  

Gen Z has no qualms about doing their research. They’ll do a deep dive into a brand’s website, scroll through their social media accounts, and read comments and reviews. 

Brand trust is only second to price in terms of determining what brands we’re going to support. You’ve seen brands trip up because they’ve not upheld the standards that they’ve been communicating,” explains Larry. 

During this year’s resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement on social media, skincare brand Cocokind announced that moving forward, they’d be releasing a report of their team’s racial and ethnic makeup so their community could hold them accountable:

 

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A post shared by cocokind (@cocokind)

Company culture matters to Gen Z, and your brand should hold the same values externally and internally. It’s not enough to cast and work with diverse creators and influencers. Larry adds: “It needs to be built into the fabric of the brand.”

#3: Establish Your Brand’s Personality

In order to engage and connect with Gen Z, say goodbye to the millennial-focused aesthetic of perfectly curated content. 

No more sleek and minimal imagery — Gen Zers want brands that are bold, have a strong voice, and a personality. Don’t be afraid to make waves! 

Starface sells pimple-protectors and their website and social media profiles are full of bright yellow, stars, and smiley faces. 

@starfacethat’s me 👋 ##starface ##skincare ##tiktokstar ##celebrity ##pimple ##star ##stickers ##foryou♬ original sound – Hawkeronni

They’re able to promote their products in a light-hearted and silly way, and the strategy has seen massive success. They have over 540K followers on TikTok with videos full of skincare routines, fun transformations, and catchy music. 

For more established brands, Larry points to the recent Crocs and KFC collaboration as an example of targeting a younger generation:

@crocsComing soon! Kentucky Fried Chicken x Crocs Classic Clogs are finally being served on July 28th at 12 PM ET. #KFCCrocs♬ original sound – Crocs

“Love it or hate it, what they’ve done well is tap into an irony that Gen Zers gravitate towards, especially in a world where there’s massive uncertainty and unrest.” The takeaway? The zany and weird can work too — these Crocs sold out! 

TikTok can be great for showing your brand’s personality and connecting with Gen Z. Get exclusive early access to visual planning and scheduling for TikTok on web and mobile.

 

#4: Be Entertaining 

With thousands of marketing messages a day on various social media platforms, how can your brand stand out from the crowd?

One way is to focus on the social media platforms that are already engaging Gen Z and create content tailored to that audience.

Gen Zers have an uncanny ability to filter content. With a short attention span, “you have around 8 seconds to essentially tell us why we should pay attention before we move on.”

And the best way to grab their attention is to entertain them! 

Larry says makeup brand Fenty Beauty has done this effectively with both their TikTok and Instagram Reels content:

Creating fun and quick tutorials featuring various beauty influencers and creators allows Fenty Beauty to spotlight their products in an entertaining and easily digestible way.

#5: Build A Community 

Building a digital community is integral to your Gen Z marketing strategy in 2021. 

According to surveys, Gen Z is the loneliest generation in America, so they’re actively looking for ways to engage and connect with like-minded individuals. 

Brands can help facilitate authentic connection and conversation, but it goes beyond working with mega-influencers. The answer? Seek real people who have interesting platforms and embody your brand’s values.  

“It could be a creative, an artist, a thought-leader, or an activist — find people you believe can serve as ambassadors and tap into their networks in a way that feels less transactional and more authentic,” explains Larry. 

Another way to build a community is to either solicit advice and feedback from Gen Zers during product development or celebrate customers who’ve been loyal to your brand for years. 

For example, Chipotle hosted socially-distanced Zoom events with superfans and special celebrity guests: 

Not only will this help strengthen your sense of community, but it can establish trust with your brand. And as we said earlier, brand trust is super important to the Gen Z audience! 

Gen Z marketing is a great way to reach a younger generation and connect with a new type of consumer: one that is value-conscious, loves bold personalities, and is seeking community. 

Ready to engage with Gen Z? Get exclusive early access to visual planning and scheduling for TikTok on web and mobile.

 

Written By

Monique Thomas

Monique is a Content Writer at Later who loves helping brands define their voice and content strategy. You can usually find her sipping matcha or adding another book to her ever-growing TBR list. Say hi on Instagram — @mo_thom

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