Marketing to Gen Z: How to Get It Right

Every generation pushes the boundaries of what came before. 

But gen z’s barrier-breaking is exponential. 

What this audience values in a brand is authenticity and commitment to change, not perfection. 

Their appetite for change and commitment to progress is unrivalled, and brands need to consider this in their marketing strategies, especially when selecting brand ambassadors to engage this younger generation. 

Previously, brands flooded campaigns with the ‘best’, ‘smartest’, ‘fastest’ and ‘strongest’ role models, an ideal which sold the dream and appealed to a generation fed on perfection.

But this rising generation is teaching us that ‘perfect’ might just push them away. 

Gen z is much more likely to look up to someone more relatable who is doing good in their local community than to a famous, or fastest, or best ‘empty vessel’.

They’re more likely to follow a player than a team.

They follow the human, the attitude and the actions that resonate with their values, not the badges and the leagues.

They don’t care about the old models of social status either. The car you drive or the watch you wear doesn’t mean anything to them. 

In fact, these new potential consumers aren’t about ‘stuff’ at all, but about experiences, sustainability, and ethics. 

They’re all about what you do. Walking the walk and only then, maybe, talking the talk. 

And by pushing the agenda in this way they are affecting us all. Gen z is making us rethink our values and re-shape them for good; it is making the old generation jealous with their courage to push for the progress that previous generations longed for. 

So, what does this mean for brands?

1. If your sport and entertainment content out there still features unattainable, unachievable, and unrelatable ideals, you’re missing out. Brands have a growing 

and important opportunity to promote themselves with authenticity through realistic icons. After all, people are most invested in the things they love, their passions, not perfection. 

2. Brands don’t need to be the biggest name on the field to be the leader. Gen z values the brands which are playing a meaningful role in society rather than those which are trying to be the best. 

3. Meaningful doesn’t have to be boring, preachy, or tired. One of the coolest aspects about Gen z is that, yes, it wants to change the world, but it wants to have fun while doing so. There are so many great examples of fun, engaging but meaningful work done by the new generation and brands can be part of it. Actually, brands should be part of it. 

4. Follow their lead: You don’t have to have massive budgets or be in certain places to engage gen z. For this audience, what really matters is authenticity. Consider partnering with local creators, musicians and other types of artists and follow their lead. Engaging local communities, sponsoring fun, real and relatable content can help you establish an authentic voice and then scale up your reach. 

It’s an incredibly exciting time for brands to be a part of the change this next generation is making, and now is the time to jump on board.

Gen z is coming up behind us, but in many ways they are already steps ahead. 

Ronaldo Tavares is executive creative director at M&C Saatchi Sport & Entertainment London. 

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