Advertising to Gen Z: 5 Critical Signs You’re Getting it Wrong

Are your advertising strategies to Gen Z falling flat too? Marketers are all making the same mistakes, find out if you are too.
Fanbytes - Advertising to Gen Z

In 30 seconds:

  • How to advertise to generation Z? The key is taking time to understand them. marketers taking this step are ahead of the competition.
  • If you’re finding your campaigns falling flat, you may be advertising to Gen Z wrong. Scroll for our checklist to help.
  • Gen Z aren’t so scary once you learn where they’re coming from. If you appeal to their mindset, you’ll get it right.


Advertising to Gen Z? Good move. With a buying power of over $140 billion, Generation Z makes up 40% of all global consumers. But do you know how to advertise to Gen Z?

If you’re not in tune with Gen Z, your messaging will feel “off”. Generations past may have been more forgiving of marketing campaigns that hit the wrong note, but Generation Z are more sceptical of brands. You need to be getting it right.

Time and time again, we see brands pulling out all the “tricks”  to win Gen Z‘s approval with marketing campaigns and advertising, but they hit a bum note. 

Could this be you? We’re outlining 5 key signs you’re getting your marketing to Gen Z activities wrong – and why. Understanding why your advertising is underperforming will help you make advertising campaigns for Gen Z that really work.

Gen Z advertising mistake 1: you’re lying to them

Gen Z are digital natives who have little or no memory of the world before smartphones. Mobile phones, social media and augmented reality are not modern phenomena so much as a constant presence in their lives.

This means that Gen Z consumers are savvy. This new generation are naturals at finding information online, where they have access to choice and knowledge about products, services, and the brands providing them.  

Gen Z are more able to suss out if a brand is being deceptive. This accounts for the fact that Gen Z are more sceptical of brands and less brand loyal. If they think a brand is being dishonest, they’ll go elsewhere. 

It also explains why authenticity is so important for advertising to a Gen Z audience – and why they value transparency so highly. 

82% of Gen Zers say they trust a company more if it uses images of real customers in its advertising. For Gen Z, social media is a source to gain deeper information about products, services and the world around them. 

This also explains why influencer marketing is such a hit with young consumers.

Gen Z sees social media influencers as a useful tool for discovery and realistic, relatable information about products. 44% of Generation Z has made a purchase decision based on a recommendation from a social influencer, compared with 26% of the general population. 

In particular, Gen Z views micro-influencers as a trusted party because they are positioned closer to friends in comparison to celebrities. Consequently, young people judge their content as more conspiratorial: the purpose is not to persuade, but to provide an authentic review.

Fanbytes | Gen Z influence

Gen Z advertising mistake 2: you’re not re-targeting

Day to day, young people consume hundreds of ads, so the likelihood of Gen Z converting on a product or service after seeing one of your ads is pretty slim. It’s not that they have a short attention span per se; they just have so many demands of their attention.

Gen Z hop between several social media apps daily. 39% of this demographic have four or more social media accounts (although TikTok is their favourite). That means your ads have to contend with cross-platform competition. 

Gen Z are also the most likely to abandon their online shopping cart. That means enormous buying power is wasted.

How do you make sure you stay front of mind – and turn that initial interest into a sale? The answer is retargeting.

Retargeting is a great strategy to advertise to Gen Z, but you need to take a specialist approach to each online platform. Cookies allow you to monitor customer behaviour and use that data to influence purchasing decisions. Match your messaging to the unique offering of different social media platforms and you’ll capture the younger generation‘s attention. 

You don’t need to be on every platform. But you need to nail every platform you are on (and TikTok needs to top your list). 

74% of Gen Z watch more than 30 minutes of video content per day, and they’re less likely to skip videos. So if you’re not considering video for advertising for Gen Zers, you should!

We know that brand engagements rise by 28% when consumers are exposed to a mixture of professional marketing content and user-generated content. That’s an important consideration for retargeting. Why not try a mix of paid ads on social via your own channels with  influencer marketing?

Get in touch with our team to find out about influencer marketing with Fanbytes.

Fanbytes | user-generated content

Gen Z advertising mistake 3: you don’t stand for anything

If your brand doesn’t act as a positive force for social, political or environmental issues, then Gen Z aren’t going to give you the time of day. 

Gen Z values inclusivity, sustainability, and ethical responsibility – and that sentiment has only grown over the pandemic61% say they would pay more for products that are produced in a sustainable way. 70% purchase products from companies they consider ethical. 77% say they feel more positively towards a brand when it promotes gender equality, and 71% want to see more diversity in advertising. 

If you’re behind the times on social issues, you should know that Gen Z are also tolerant of mistakes – as long as you correct them. They value transparency, after all! Step up your marketing strategy, and you can reap the rewards.

Make it a priority to use your brand and social media presence to make positive contributions towards equality, diversity, and social justice.  

A great way you can step up today is by donating to charitable organisations. Demonstrate your core values align with your marketing efforts, and you’ll grab young consumers‘ attention for the right reason.

Fanbytes recently ran a campaign with Decca records for their artist Aurora. To promote her newest release ‘The River’, we tapped into Gen Z’s appetite for gender equality and created the #youcancrychallenge. The campaign boosted mental health awareness while promoting awareness of the artist. 

A key part of the campaign involved creating a duet chain of our TikTok influencers showing their emotions and holding hands. This kind of interactivity combined with a message that really resonated with Gen Z meant the campaign went viral after just a few days, achieving a total of 649.4k views and 93.4k hearts. 

Gen Z advertising mistake 4: you’re selling the product, not the experience

73% of Gen Z rate experiences over products. For Gen Z, consumption is more about having access to products, rather than actually owning them. And as we’ve learned, because of their innate ability to access more information, a brand’s significance goes beyond its products. The experience you provide has a key role.

Experience is everything that goes around the product. Gen Z wants an engaging and authentic social experience. They want informative, transparent and original online experiences. They want open lines of communication, and messages that are tailored just for them.

How chatty is your brand on social media? 60% of Gen Zers say they wish they could communicate with more businesses via messaging

How are you showcasing your products? Gen Z is 41% more likely to return to an online store if the brand shows their body type size in model photos. 

Do you offer personalisation? 44% of Gen Z are willing to trade personal information for tailored experiences. 50% of this demographic want personalised products. 

Where are your physical brand experiences? 88% of Gen Z prefer brand experiences to be executed by the blending of both digital and physical channels. 

Brands should take an omni-channel marketing approach, making sure they are optimising their digital channels. An example of this done well comes from a campaign we ran with gaming app Plato. Using our AR lenses platform, we created 2 lenses to promote their game ‘Werewolf’. Both campaigns went viral. We reached number 1 on the Snapchat creator charts, garnered 5.5m views and 160k shares. 

If you nail the experience, you’ll see an increased rate of return customers. And seeing as returning customers spend 67% more on purchases than new customers, that’s a good incentive to create the best experience possible for young people.

Gen Z advertising mistake 5: you’re not creating mobile-friendly campaigns

98% of Gen Z own a smartphone. Their engagement is deeper on mobile than any other generation and they spend an average of 4 hours a day scrolling. 

While preferences for actual purchases may be fairly evenly split (36% of Gen Z prefer in-store shopping, 35% prefer online), it’s highly likely that Gen Z’s first experience of your brand is going to be online. 

Social media marketing is fundamental. but it is also imperative that any campaign you execute is mobile-friendly at every touchpoint if you want to attract this younger generation

Here are a few things to consider when creating mobile-friendly experiences:

1. Optimise user experience

Gen Z are accustomed to a fast-moving world and are used to quick access for most things. They have high expectations for digital experiences. Make sure that your design is user-friendly with an intuitive user experience (UX), a responsive website, and great-looking user interface (UI).

2. Think about imagery

A frequent mode of communication amongst Gen Z is emojis, gifs, and other graphics. These capture a particular feeling, moment or reference succinctly and humorously. Pictures were worth a thousand words to older generations, but when time is short, images and video are even more valuable.

3. Make your content shareable and interactive

Gen Z love interactive social experiences, and sharing meaningful, informative or funny content with their peers. It feeds their desire to interact more with brands, and create richer experiences about them for their peers on their mobile devices.

Fanbytes | Deeper Engagement

Advertising to Gen Z: food for thought

With significant purchasing power that’s only going to grow as Gen Z matures in the workplace, Gen Z should be the apple of your eye. 

They’re not the easiest group to advertise to, though. They’re far less credulous than older generations. They have the innate ability to access information, and they’re more choosy about brands. They’re naturals at communicating online and understanding the nuances of different platforms. They can spot when a brand is missing the mark on their messaging. They hold brands to account. 

But get to know them properly and see them as real people, and you’ll see how valuable a great relationship with this new generation of consumers can be.

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To find out how Fanbytes can help you connect with a Gen Z Audience fill in the form to get in touch!



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