Winning Marketing Strategies for Gen Z in 2024 and Beyond

Blog 15.1.2024

It’s that time of the year when we’ve seen numerous trend reports for the upcoming year in abundance. For brands, navigating through long trend listings can be confusing: which trends should we genuinely focus on, which ones are not relevant to us, and which trend forecasts may never even materialize?

That’s why we lifted our gaze from the trend lists and created four strategies that you can’t go wrong with! And, best of all, these strategies are based on the values and motivational factors of the Gen Z, so they won’t go out of style but withstand the test of time. If your goal is to captivate Gen Z consumers and their immense indirect purchasing power, these strategies will lead you to success.

1. Share it all! Strongest brand narratives are full transparent and created with the audience

Gone are the days when brands dictated the narrative and positioned themselves as unattainable dreams. Gen Z wants to actively contribute and be involved in shaping the brands that resonate with them. More importantly, they seek brands they can fully trust, making transparency a must-have brand feature for Gen Z.

When it comes to validation, the pop sensation Taylor Swift serves as a proof of concept. Her level of full transparency and engagement has propelled her to great heights and even beyond. Her fans are familiar with every peak and valley in her life, and the Taylor-centric content shared by fans ensures that their idol is always present and everywhere.

This analogy extends to brands as well. Our client, Smuuti Skin, is evidence of the power that comes with a brand narrative crafted in collaboration with the audience. Since Smuuti’s founder, Jenni, decided to create her cosmetics brand, the entire journey has been openly shared on her TikTok. From the initial idea in her head to the current day, where Smuuti Skin has exceptional products distributed in several countries, every step in between has been shared with the audience. And most importantly, the audience have had the chance to influence crucial decisions for Smuuti Skin, from package design to new product launches.

Thanks to this transparency and participation, the fans have responded immensely. Upon the launch of the brand’s initial products, Smuuti Skin went viral, selling out a six-month stock in just two days!

2. Redifine Influencer Marketing

Random endorsements are no longer effective. Instead, brands should focus on building long-time relationships with creators who genuinely align with their brand values. Collaborations with relatable creators allow brands to tap into the power of peer-to-peer recommendations, which hold significant influence over Gen Z’s purchasing decisions.

Joint venture between brands and creators is an emerging influencer marketing strategy. Gen Z is entrepreneurial, and the opportunity to establish something of their own and gain more through their own activities motivates influencers in this demographic. Followers enjoy glimpses behind the scenes, and joint ventures provide an effective, budget-friendly promotion strategy for companies launching new products, creating a win-win situation for all.

With influencer marketing becoming more democratized, brands must recognize that anyone can be an influencer within their peer group. By incentivizing product recommendations and leveraging community commerce, brands can harness the power of Gen Z consumers as a super-efficient way to drive sales and build brand loyalty.

3. By Winning over one, you can reach many

Brands would be beneficial to forget the ‘think big’ mantra and start embracing a ‘thinking small’ mentality. Rather than investing in broad quantitative research, brands would win more by concentrating on understanding the deep motivations and preferences of a few Gen Z individuals within their target audience. The same also applies to marketing, and by this, we mean focusing on subcultures and communities.

Becoming relevant and growing over time through subcultures has proven to be an effective strategy. Numerous brands, such as Apple, Vans, and Harley-Davidson, started as niche brands, and their strong presence in subcultures served as stepping stones to achieve widespread recognition and acceptance.

Brand communities are a kind of subcultures that emerge around a brand. Communities have been talked about for a long time, and their value to brands is not fading – quite the opposite.

Brand communities have remarkable halo effects. They create differentiation, relevance, and brand loyalty. When Gen Z consumers are active members of your brand’s community, the need for advertising and mass marketing communication shrinks, as fans of your brand keep you visible across all channels and within their own peer-to-peer networks.

And not all brand communities even are small! Sephora’s Beauty Insider community has over six million members, featuring subgroups that delve into specific facets of beauty like skincare, hair care, lip colors, and others. These smaller communities, coupled with product reviews and ratings, cultivate a strong sense of solidarity.

4. Stay a topic of conversation through collaborations and spin-offs

Gen Z isn’t just searching for products; they seek inspiration and value from brands aligning with their interests and values. Importantly, they are always eager for something new! This explains why brand loyalty is lowest among young consumers. To stay relevant and capture Gen Z’s interest, brands must extend beyond their product category. Understanding Gen Z’s broader aspirations, interests, hobbies, subcultures, and the brands and people they love, can help create more meaningful products, communication, and collaborations.

By collaborating with other relevant brands and exploring interesting product spin-offs, you give Gen Z new reasons to get excited about your brand again and again. For inspiration in implementing this strategy, Dunkin’ stands out as an excellent benchmark. Originally known for donuts, Dunkin’ surprises consumers with new brand collaborations and spin-off products. In 2023 alone, it released a cosmetics line with e.l.f. cosmetics, a protein supplement with the performance nutrition brand Dymatize, a Salted Caramel Creamer with Danone, and a collection of dog toys in collaboration with BARK.