Catch Us If You Can: Brands Shift Their Marketing Tactics for Gen Z


Just when marketers thought they had a grasp on how Millennials talk, shop, and what their social habits are (Instagram/Snpachat/Periscope), Generation Z has officially arrived (defined as born during the mid to late 1990s-present) and they are making the job of marketers harder than ever. Marketers and brands alike are trying out non-traditional tactics to speak Gen Z’s language in a fun, unique way – through apps, pop-up shops, and immersive store experiences.

Brand such as Taco Bell, Target and DreamWorks Animations’s AwesomenessTV are already ahead of the game and conducting market research to understand this new generation of consumers. In their findings, they have discovered key factors that motivate this generation, their interest in implementing new technologies into how they connect with both friends and the brands they like, and lastly, their differentiating values from previous generations.

Gen Z is considered to be practical and value conscious. They are also fond of new technology, such as the new live video streaming app called Periscope, which Taco Bell used to reach this demographic to announce its new product, the Biscuit Taco. Gen Z has more information available to them than any previous generation before them, they use that information to make smart purchases, and they are brand loyal once they’ve connected with a brand that they relate to.

Lastly, in my own experience in the advertising world, a lot of the new technologies that this generation embraces are drastically different than the ones that I use in my own personal life. I use Facebook and Instagram, but do not use or understand the importance of Snapchat — especially from a brand’s perspective of storytelling. Also, a new form of entertainment that is currently gaining a lot of traction, especially as a way to create a unique user experience, and could be a great example as a component piece in an integrated marketing plan, is VR (virtual reality) 360 video. For example, our Samsung team at 72andSunny did a innovative and unique VR brand extension piece that lets the user truly feel like they are a character in the new Avengers film, Age of Ultron.

Screen Shot 2015-05-25 at 6.06.03 PM


Rodriguez, A. (2015, May 15). Stung by Millennial Misses, Brands Retool for Gen Z. Retrieved May 26, 2015, from

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Catch Us If You Can: Brands Shift Their Marketing Tactics for Gen Z

  1. Gustavo says:

    Gen Z, the generation of crooked necks and eyes sucked into a mobile screen. While this generation didn’t necessarily have an ipad in front of them as an infant they are the first generation to essentially grow up with mobile technology as adolescents. This makes them the most dependent but also most resourceful group when it comes to using their mobile devices for entertainment and communication purposes. For these kids it’s all about access, information, and up to the second updates. Because information travels so fast and the capabilities of their phones are so great this causes a high dependency to constantly be attached to their phone. The communication power at their finger tips give the gen Z population options up to the last minute, this is what makes them value conscious. Gen Z kids are essentially that KIDS, they are constantly in social settings (High School and College) and the immediate use of their phones are relating to all things social. Most things Gen Z cares about are surrounded by what’s cool, hip and having fun. Marketing tactics such as using celebrities or anything else regarded as “cool” still hold true for this generation, but what’s more important is how they receive this information. The closer to real time that information can be provided, by friends or people that you can access through different mediums make the communication more effective for this generation. The buy in for this group is tough making it a continuous effort to retain the attention of these gen Z’ers.

  2. Christina says:

    You raise some great points about the challenges that we as communicators face when trying to target a moving target! Gen Z is truly on the go, and the number of new and changing technologies required to keep up with them increases by the day. As a GenXer myself, I find it impossible to keep up, and find there simply isn’t enough time in the week to study and learn new technologies while trying to keep up with traditional media as well. As the new generation continues to create new challenges for communications and marketing, I wonder if we’ll see our field continue to diversify into granular areas such as app marketing, virtual communications and guerrilla tactics. It seems so much of interacting with Gen Z requires real time and interactive response, which will also create further demands on our profession (and perhaps greater flexibility and an expanded definition of the “traditional” workplace).

  3. Jennifer says:


    This is an interesting topic that’s relevant to our course of study.

    While I do feel that Generation Z’ers are more demanding and have a shorter attention-span compared to the generations before them, I don’t necessarily believe that Millennials are much different from Gen Z’ers. I believe that Millennials can navigate (and keep up) with our ever-changing digital landscape just as much as Gen Z’ers. Millennials helped pave the way for Gen Z’ers, and Gen-Z values are an extension of the Millenial generation. With all of this being said, I think one of the major challenges in advertising is to continuously find creative ways to speak to our audiences and the advantage that older generations have is that they still know how to look outside of their offices to come up with innovative outreach efforts.

  4. Jessica says:

    As someone with two high school aged siblings who hold totally different attitudes and buying behavior than myself, I am excited to finally see the creation of a new generation classification. I have always found the definition of Millennials to be too broad and encompassing of a wide range of ages when it’s obvious that someone in their late twenties/early thirties has very little in common with a teenager. As an advertising sales professional, having the ability to narrow down research to a specific age group, such as Gen Z, will help me provide more thorough suggestions and selling points to my clients regarding their intended target audience. I love social media just as much as my Gen Z siblings; however from an advertising aspect, I’m unsure how effective using social media is with influencing purchasing behavior. I do, however, think that it is a great way for brands to interact with this generation by meeting them where they are, which is on their phones.

  5. Brittani says:

    I have yet to hear about this VR 360 video being integrated into the mainstream advertising world, but I certainly like it! I mean I know my hotels use tools like virtual tours through meeting space, guest rooms, and public spaces to sell event space to international customers when they cannot make the trek to see the space in person. But, to use it to advertise for a phone and movie at the same time is pretty cool.

    So is this:

    It seems like the main way to reach Gen-Y is to be more genuine that practical. Brands need to use all the technological tools available to them in order to reach the tech-savvy generation and build authentic relationships. I think another important factor for brands to consider is the timing of their efforts. There is so much content available that if you post too early on Twitter, by the time Gen-Y logs on during their lunch break the content is already so far down the news feed that it’s rare they’ll actually see it. This is why brands need to create a reason for the generation to seek the information out.