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  • Writer's pictureVivien Koh

Why Are You Failing To Target Gen Zs?

Updated: Jan 27, 2023

When you think of Generation Z, what comes to mind? If you find yourself picturing a bunch of kids who are glued to their screens all day long, with interests limited to learning the latest TikTok dance, you are totally out of date and it’s time to change your perception of what Gen Z actually is.

Born between 1996 and 2012, Gen Zs is one of the most diverse generations. They are the first digital natives, with high social and cultural awareness levels and a greater propensity to be more expressive. There’s no question about it: Gen Z is built differently. It is no wonder brands are finding it hard to target Gen Zs using the old playbook that was used to target earlier generations.

Thus, it’s time to ditch the negative stereotypes or misconceptions you have of Gen Z in order to better understand their real needs and interests. Though there is no “one size fits all” approach to successfully target this large and complex market segment, there are certainly some common mistakes that can easily be avoided.

🔹Brands Try A Little Too Hard Into Using Gen Z Slangs or Memes

Gen Z's sense of humour is often perceived as peculiar, rapidly evolving, and difficult to comprehend by that outside of their generation. Hence, it can be rather challenging for brands to effectively leverage these trending memes or slanga to appeal to Gen Zs. This is not only due to the short life cycles of such humour, but also because of the complex nuances, contexts, and hidden meanings behind it.

Hence, mimicking popular memes and slang in order to appeal to younger audiences may not be the best way and instead backfire. The whole point of Gen Z culture is that comedy comes easily, trying too hard is embarrassing.

Instead of attempting to connect with the Gen Zs by mimicking their language, it's better to develop your brand’s own unique style and voice that is easy to understand and stands out. If your company has a formal tone and voice, it's best to avoid using memes and social humour. The key to appealing to Gen Zs is by being authentic and having a consistent communication style across all platforms.

🔹Your Ads Are Too Salesy

According to a global study by Yahoo and OMD Worldwide, Gen Z loses active attention to ads after just 1.3 seconds—less time than any other age group. They instantly skip or scroll past content that doesn’t intrigue them. Furthermore, skippable ads on YouTube and vertical scrolling like on TikTok have reinforced an expectation that many ads are optional. And not to also mention, Gen Zs are always finding ways to take control of such advertisements by installing ad-blockers.

Beyond traditional advertising, Gen Zs also have a low tolerance for digital content and social media marketing that is purely just for sales. They also do not easily fall ploy to marketing tactics such as sponsored social posts or blog posts that are written purely for SEO purposes.

Hence, there may be better ways to target them than promoting your brand through traditional ads. Instead, try to provide genuine and valuable content (educational, entertaining, out-of-the-box, interactive) that catches their attention yet also at the same time, allows them to form meaningful connections with your brand.

🔹You Do Not Engage Them The Right Way: Short Form Videos Is The Way!

According to eMarketer, Snapchat, TikTok, and Instagram are the most popular social networks among Gen Z, as they all rely heavily on short-form video content that caters to Gen Z's short attention spans and is engaging, fun, and different.

As a digitally native generation, they are familiar with digital tactics and are drawn more towards fresh takes on advertising, such as authentic and unique videos. Videos offer more variety which Gen Z users love - in how people can interact. Furthermore, videos or motion-specific content is certainly more eye-catching and helps brands come across as more authentic. Done right, short-form videos can cater to Gen Z's increasingly short attention spans, while removing deliberation amongst viewers about whether they should keep watching or not. Hence brands should certainly consider churning out creative and authentic short-form videos in order to fully capture Gen Zs attention and drive results.

The Gen Z generation is undoubtedly a complex one — it is no wonder so many brands are failing to target Gen Z effectively. Hence, understanding who they are and what they care about is key. Brands that figure out how to emotionally connect with Gen Z are the ones who will find success. It’s time for you to reinvent the old playbook and experiment with more creative, human-centric marketing. Good luck!

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