Kirsty Anderson
Kirsty Anderson 9 July 2021
Categories B2C, Social Media, Technology

Understand Generational Language Barriers when Marketing to Gen Zs

It is not new information that the trick to successful marketing is knowing your audience and how to connect with them. Generational marketing is exactly what it says. You pick your target audience and target with content that will entice them. Simple, right? Well, not exactly.

The trouble with generational marketing comes when marketers think they know their target audience when their knowledge is merely surface level. To fully understand your market, you must know the language that they use.    

As much as we might not like to admit it, we all become ‘un-cool’ one day and studies have found that this age is 33 - apologies 1988 babies. Apparently, when we hit this age, we stop listening to new music and stay loyal to the artists that got us to our thirties. Music aside, becoming un-cool may have a lot to do with the language that we use.   

Unless you live under a rock, you would know that Gen Zs are taking over what is ‘hot’ and what is ‘not’ in all senses of the word. They are telling marketers what is cool and what is cringe (definitely don’t use ‘lit’ to describe your product).

They have taken over the internet and have even gone so far as to kindly inform their older peers that using the laughing face emoji is officially uncool. Simply using the 'wrong' emojis in your marketing will instantly reveal that you “don’t get it”.   

So, how do marketers navigate this Gen Z minefield, which for the record is people born between 1997 and 2012, and get the responses they are after?  

Stop with the Attempts of Using Gen Z Internet Trends and Memes  

Admittedly Gen Z humour can be weird. If even a bit dark at times. Their internet humour is constantly changing and you need a super quick turnaround if you are using it in your marketing to be relevant.  Your attempts might wind up completely backfiring and counteracting what you were trying to do in the first place.  Gen Zs are notoriously good at spotting when a brand isn’t being authentic and simply trying too hard to reach an audience that isn’t their usual market. 

You are not Valuing their Values   

Gen Z is widely understood to be the most diverse and ethical generation of people yet. For this age group sustainability has shown to be a huge factor in their purchasing power and, this is something both companies and marketers should consider before campaigning towards this generation, not least because it’s also good for the planet.  

Where brands might have been politically neutral in the past, this will no longer stand with a Gen Z consumer contingent. They will expect your brand to take a stance on both social justice and political issues. So, when something big is happening in the political sphere, the best way to catch their attention is to show them what your brand stands for and how it authentically aligns with the cause at hand.  

Don’t use Millennial Lingo   

Gen Zs are known for calling out millennial culture on the internet,  definitely do not say your new product is ‘on fleek’ to this group. Most recently, Gen Zs have been taking to the internet to describe millennials as ‘cheugy’ (pronounced ‘chew-gee’: used to describe someone who is out of date or simply trying too hard). The last thing you want is for Gen Zs to call your marketing attempts cheugy – it is not a compliment.  

Be Transparent  

Gen Zs are the first fully-fledged internet generation, and they are no strangers to technology. Gen Z is extremely resourceful in their use of technology to get exactly the information they want and also, at verifying it. While marketing can be associated with bending the truth, Gen Zs will be able to see right through this. Be sure to fact check.  

Never underestimate the power of the younger generations. After all, they are the future.

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