I was born in 1997, and although I’ve only had a couple of years as a marketing professional, I am sure I’m credible enough to write about the topic at hand. I am classified as an individual that is part of the Gen Z generation that every think tank and leadership consultant is raving (or ranting, mostly) about. I’ve been particularly annoyed with stereotypical generation labeling because it has always been divisive, no matter what generation you are in.
This particular label, Gen Z, can lead to poor management, common misunderstandings, and a terrible communication flow within a typical company. It’s not wise to define and blindly label individuals based on general cultural trends. Generational labeling is short-sighted and creates a stigma on a homogeneous, wide-ranged age bracket.
But wait, marketers are expected to determine and define their target market, right? Of course. In fact, it’s easier and more precise than it’s ever been, thanks to data and digital analytics. You can target single mothers who are fitness junkies, California skateboarders with an affinity for reusable materials, and digital artists of Boise, Idaho.
It’s difficult to attribute a description to an entire generation. These hasty generalizations about Gen Z are too basic to be an effective marketing shortcut. It would be better for marketers to segment consumer groups with more specific descriptors such as interests, income, and even educational attainment.
There are so many types of Gen Zs out there: career-focused, savvy social influencers, and philanthropic entrepreneurs are some excellent examples to start with. Instead of labeling us all “Gen Z” and thinking all we care about is TikTok, see us as the individuals we are and focus your efforts on our unique interests.
Sadly, there are still marketing and brand consultants who perpetuate this flawed thinking of Gen Z generalization in order to appeal to brands desperately trying to understand how we function. Generational labels almost always come with unfair stereotypes. This was true with Millennials, and it’s true with us, too.
Deciding to forego these labels can help remove the stigma and broad generalizations associated with our generation. The way to market your brand to our generation is easy – data-driven research. As a generation, we are producing more digital data than any previous generation. The answers are there, so put in the work to uncover what we genuinely respond too, instead of lumping us all together as one group.
In marketing, generational labels create so many more issues, internally and externally, than they solve. If you really want to appeal to Gen Z’s like me, at least try to go deeper and get to know us on an individual level.
I have a fearless forecast: future consultants or brand experts will define what the next generation will be called, define their traits, and categorize them as “spoiled, self-centered, and unable to pay attention” compared to Gen Z. Oh wait, that has always been the case. It’s not a Gen Z trait, nor is it a Millennial trait; it is a general trait of young people in any particular generation.
So, what are the best ways to market your brand to Gen Z? Stop using generational labels, for your sake as well as ours.
Featured image from People vector created by pikisuperstar – www.freepik.com