Gen Z – Who Are These Powerful Young People?

Blog // 09.22.2021 // Gen Z – Who Are These Powerful Young People?

Larger, more diverse and empowered than any other generation, Gen Z is challenging marketers’ methods and strategies from past decades. With new generations come changes, trends and opportunities, but with the most diverse, pragmatic, entrepreneurial consumer group yet, figuring them out may just be the most complex task marketers have encountered. Not to mention, Gen Z arrived at the most interesting time in history.

Gen Z is on track to become the largest generation, representing around 40% of consumers and approximately $44 billion in direct buying power. Setting high expectations for themselves and brands, figuring out their consumer behaviors, patterns and motivations will not be easy. Businesses that adapt to meet their expectations are those that will resonate with this consumer group during the challenging, fast-paced and opportunity-rich years to come.



Who are they?

The book “Marketing to Gen Z” by Jeff Fromm and Angie Read used 1996-2010 as the parameters for research in uncovering the separate views, ideas, need states and expectations of this consumer group. The authors find the most fitting term for this generation to be “Pivotals,” referring to these individuals pivoting away from common millennial behaviors and attitudes and veering toward a socially conscious and diverse era.

In essence, this 1996-2010 cohort has arrived and is here to change the world. Reaching Gen Z during this digital age has already been quite a demanding task, but it is presenting to be a brand’s time for discovery, trial and adventure.

Gen Z individuals are multitaskers, risk averse, adept learners, socially and technologically empowered, and driven by conservative views of success regarding money, education, and career advancement. They value personal success, desire active participation and concretion with brands, want to make a difference and are not afraid to be the ones that create change.


What is their consumer impact?

Young consumers are influencing spending and behaviors across all generations. Modern brands must not only keep pace with technological advancements in such a rapidly evolving market but also stay at least one step ahead of consumer needs and expectations.



So, what are their expectations?


  • Don’t try to just sell them. Gen Z has a hyperawareness of marketing. They choose not to connect with brands who they know are marketing to them because they’ve grown up surrounded by marketing. They can pick out brands producing even a hint of self-interest and disregard them. Unless your brand fits seamlessly into their lives, provides a utility or solves a problem, blatant advertising of any kind turns these consumers off completely.
  • Build authentic relationships with them. Gen Z expects brands to know them and deliver highly personalized messaging.
  • Catch their attention. From the moment they see your marketing efforts, interest them in some way or you will be forgotten.
  • Gen Z has an 8-second attention span. Videos are their favorite form of social media due to speed, information, attention-grabbing and easy access, which comes as no surprise that TikTok and Instagram Reels have gained so much popularity among this group.
  • Technology should be invisible and work seamlessly. Technology must be very user-friendly and have excellent speed. Studies suggest that this generation’s brains have evolved to process more information at faster speeds because they are able to handle mass amounts of visual stimuli. You must be mobile-friendly for Gen Z to even consider.
  • Brand transparency is very important. Gen Z holds brands to certain standards, especially if they see their personal values and beliefs like your brand. Gen Z tends to resonate with platforms that encourage and celebrate authenticity, and they expect brands to do the same.
  • Provide sensory, exciting and physical experiences that resonate. Turns out, direct mail isn’t dead after all!


Gen Z uses social media to amplify their social lives, educate themselves, make the world a better place and have fun. Going forward, social media should allow users to be even more fluid and to get the most valuable content the quickest without having to navigate so manually.



How can you meet Gen Z’s online needs and exceed their expectations?


  • Feed their desire for constant education and self-improvement. Provide a valuable utility somehow, whether it involves developing a skill or introducing them to contemporary ideas and trends. This is a generation that desires to learn, so find ways to make it easy and fun for them.
  • Offer real people sharing real content. Individuals would rather have influencers than celebrities; Gen Z wants approachable, authentic, and influential people.
  • Invite them to take part in your brand story. Encourage user-generated content and invite fans and followers to share ideas and stories.
  • Your priority should be helping, empowering and even collaborating with them. They want to feel valued and heard!
  • Treat them like people, not numbers. Show your brand personality by building an engaging narrative and creating an emotional bond with consumers online and in-store. Showing behind-the-scenes in the workplace, featuring the CEO or even a typical day in the office are all effective, high-engagement ways to make consumers feel more connected to your brand.


Main takeaways

Ultimately, Gen Z consumers aren’t just buying what you do — they’re buying why you do it. Effective brands not only tell others what their brand purpose is but make a priority to show others your purpose and invite them into your community. Using visual-centric platforms to inform, engage and interact best with this consumer group is what will make you best suited in reaching this generation. Gaining Gen Z’s trust and providing real-life experiences will resonate with these consumers in a personal way that digital advertising cannot.

To this generation, a brand that stands out is one that actively studies the latest rules of social media and finds the appropriate balance of authenticity, frequency, humor and brand messaging. As marketers know, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to different generations when it comes to targeting consumer groups. Gen Z holds a plethora of new opportunities along with high influencing power, so you don’t want to overlook this large consumer group!

Talk to our team about how to tap into the Gen Z audience in a way that motivates them to be loyal to your brand. Contact Randy McDaniels at 309-346-7412 or email at

McD Marketing

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