THE BLOG
11/07/2016 06:46 pm ET Updated Nov 08, 2017

7 Tips for Marketing to The Younger Generation

Generation Z is the first generation that can really claim to be true digital natives. They do not see the world through analog perspectives.

However, many businesses are slow to make their CX more intuitive, productive and seamless. Instead, they spend new technologies to legacy journeys, products, services and models to stay competitive.

The days of malleable consumers, who either adjusted or compromised their expectations, is decreasing. Regardless of the generation, consumers are demanding experiences over products.

Businesses that do not cater to them will find their market shrinking over time. In particular, Gen Z will find alternatives that satisfy their preferences. And if they can't, they'll build them.

Millennials and Gen Z are the most accessible generation in history--they consume an inordinate amount of content delivered via television, movies, games and the Internet.

But big brands and entrepreneurs struggle to market to them. I recently spoke with Connor Blakley and Deep Patel, the founders of the youth marketing publication, YouthLogix, to get their insights on some of the easiest marketing hacks to better connect with the always evolving younger generation. Here are their top seven tips.

1. Use the Right "ROI"

Young people want to be talked with and not at. When I hear ROI, I think of return on interaction, rather than investment. Through interactions, you find connection points between your brand and consumer.

From there, you can create authentic relationships that which not only turn into a brand loyal consumer, but also create an advocate. I always say it is easier to sell to your friends than it is to a stranger. The ROI that matters most is friends made through meaningful interactions.

2. Be Human

Today's youth have a BS meter unlike anything we've ever seen. They don't trust traditional marketing. They assume brands are guilty until proven innocent. Building trust with youth means being open, honest and authentic. It means connecting with them on their terms, which may be alien to brands who are used to producing slick TV ads for the Superbowl. Those ads may still be effective, but apps like Snapchat are growing in popularity because they force authenticity and personal connections.

3. Use GIFs

The younger generation has a fast pace, highly selective and decisive filter that marketers have never seen or had to encounter before. However, once they find something they deem "worthy," they can become almost obsessively committed and engaged. This not only creates attention; it creates an opportunity.

Once best known for poorly animated icons on 90s era websites, GIFs have experienced a sudden resurgence in popularity, permeating journalism through sites such as BuzzFeed and getting passed around on messaging apps.

Brands like Denny's have built massive followings on Tumblr simply by sharing interactive (and beneficial for their personal brand) GIF content. GIFs are generally short and appeal to short attention spans, making them a perfect way to quickly connect with and authentically engage with the younger generations.

4. Find a Connection

By 2020, Gen Z will account for 40% of all consumers, which makes engaging them and creating life-long brand loyalties more important more than ever. The core of all human relationships is a connection.

If brands start to invest resources into creative ways of finding and tapping into a connection point, more relationships can be made. Brands need to stop looking where they think Gen Z is, and meet them where they really are.

5. Be Authentic

Companies are aggressively trying to be everywhere at once, while attempting to command as much of your attention as possible.

Many forget they only need to live where their target consumer is. If you do not stay aligned to the brand message on your native platforms, you risk inauthenticity.

6. Keep Them Gratified

Humans naturally like to be immediately rewarded, but the millennial generation has grown up with the immediate gratification of the Internet age. With attention spans plumetting (down to 8 seconds), 30% of users only given content 5 seconds before leaving. Keep your content simple, or risk losing loyal followers.

7. Reward Them

The average user is not very motivated -- and usually skeptical -- to fill out a form with their name and address for a gift card.

However, Chipotle managed to gamify it, creating guachunter.com to incentivize customers with free guacamole.

Making your online offers fun to users may seem counterintuitive, seeing as the previous suggestion was to simplify things, but ultimately engagement is more important than simplicity.