These 3 Advertising Mistakes are the Kiss of Death with Gen Z Customers

It’s great that your company recognizes the importance of advertising to Generation Z. Also called “pivotals” and “post-Millennials,” Generation Z already makes up the biggest part of the U.S. population, so you’re right to try to establish a brand relationship with these future consumers. However, Generation Z is averse to advertising — especially digital advertising — and many companies trying to appeal to this young audience are instead giving their brand the kiss-of-death by over-marketing to this ad-weary group.

Here are three mistakes marketers make when advertising to Generation Z and how you can replace them with more effective methods.

MISTAKE #1: Overwhelming them with ads on digital devices

Generation Z customers are more likely to respond to a product’s features than to a brand name, which means advertisers need to start thinking differently. Young customers would rather find a brand through research and peer recommendations than to be blatantly pandered to. Let’s face it: digital and television ads get in the way of the daily flow of our tech-reliant lives, and Gen Z customers don’t appreciate the disruption. In fact, direct advertisement can be a deterrent for Generation Z customers, who prefer to find products themselves based on the product’s merit than to be beaten over the head with excessive ads.

Instead, focus on increasing awareness of your product’s ingredients and what it can do for customers. Be realistic. Instead putting more into digital ads, consider creating how-to videos, which show your products in action.

MISTAKE #2: Puttin’ on the glitz

Next generation customers aren’t interested in unrealistic advertising. Generation Z is diverse in race, economic class, and family structure; and they want to see people that look like them in advertisements. Generation Z wants to relate to the people they see in advertisements, which means whitewashed advertising and the unachievable beauty standards don’t inspire them to buy.

Instead, hire a diverse selection of people to represent your company. Unretouched ads with healthy-looking models, such as American Eagle’s #AerieReal campaign, go much further towards reaching a younger audience than overtly photoshopped images.

MISTAKE #3: Not connecting with causes they care about

Companies that were hoping that the call for brands to have a positive impact would fade away in time have another thing coming now that Gen Z is coming into buying power. According to a Barkley report (via Adweek), “Brands should also be aware that ‘pivotals,’ as the report refers to Gen Z, care deeply about human rights and feel that any brand they interact with must make that a priority.” Having a strong CSR, or corporate social responsibility statement, is an absolute necessity for brands trying to appeal to young customers. Your company’s CSR is more important to Generation Z than anything else about the brand.

Instead of overspending on marketing, spend on sustainability initiatives and on giving back to your local community. Share the details of your company’s philanthropic work through social media, and offer young customers ways to join you in lending a hand. 

By Jasmine Glasheen, Generational Marketer and Writer for Retail Minded. Learn more about Glasheen here.

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