Audience, Hospitality Marketing, Strategy 8 mins read

Marketing Strategies to Engage the Gen Z Audience

What is Gen Z?

Anyone born between 1995 and 2012 belongs to the Gen Z generation. Gen Z is just beginning to take on salaried jobs that enable them to spend freely on the products and services they want. In fact, by 2027, the millennial and Gen Z audiences will jointly dominate the market share of global consumers.

A group of Gen Zers sits in front of a camera looking unapologetically authentic. slay. Text reads 'Engaging Gen Z.'

Consider Gen Z as a trove of untapped potential visitors and customers for your business.  More and more join the workforce every day and communicate their preferences through their spending. But enticing them into your restaurant, hotel, or destination might prove trickier than what you’re used to. In other words, you may need to shift your marketing strategies effectively to reach this wave of Gen Z consumers.

Note: This article cites information from a Statista Webinar; click here to view it.

What’s Important to Gen Z Consumers

The social, political, and cultural issues that Gen Z care about most differ from those of Millennials, Gen X, and Baby Boomers. The way they interact with the digital world and the world around them differs too. They’re even approaching internet searches differently than the other generations.

Understanding what’s truly important to Gen Z will help brands identify ways to craft their messaging to appeal to them.

Sustainability in Business Practices and Marketing

Gen Z icon Greta Thunberg is held under her arms by police officers after protesting for a sustainable future

Environmental consciousness is one of the most important things for Gen Z, and they want to see a drive for sustainability in the marketing content of the brands they engage with. 

According to a recent survey, approximately half of Gen Z consumers consider themselves ethical or sustainable consumers. This should come as no surprise, considering Greta Thunberg, the Swedish environmental activist who publicly challenged world leaders to work toward a sustainable future (and serves as the unofficial spokesperson of Gen Z), was born in 2003.

Examples of Sustainability in Hospitality Marketing

Hospitality marketing can embrace sustainability in small but intentional ways. For example, a focus on eco-tourism might appeal more to Gen Z than to Baby Boomers. Another example is opting to serve sustainably-caught fish at a seafood restaurant.

We have partnered with One Tree Planted to plant trees for each new client partnership, client anniversary, and team member anniversary. This initiative is not a scheme to appeal to Gen Z, but rather serves as an example of how brands can incorporate sustainability into their marketing and business practices.

Brand Authenticity

If there’s one thing Gen Z consistently values, it’s authenticity in their self-expression, the media they consume, and the content they create. We frequently discuss authenticity in marketing, but it’s especially important to emphasize in content meant for Gen Zers. 

Different email send-offs broken down by each generation. Gen X's are more formal, such as 'warm regards,' Millennial's are enthusiastic and apologetic, and Gen Z's embrace a more free vibe, for example 'another day .png

Socially, in the workplace, and in the advertising content they resonate with, direct communication is important for this generation. They want to see not just what a destination, restaurant, or activity is about, but also how it will be to experience it themselves. 

Gen Z living their truth is admirable, and for many of them, it involves admitting that they’re still under their parent’s roof, spending money that isn’t their own. About 40% of Gen Z feels stressed or anxious about economic instability. This statistic might change in the coming years as more of them progress in their careers, but for now, it shows that this group isn’t compelled to spend a lot of money on products or experiences – yet.

Examples of Authenticity in Marketing

One brand that has effectively capitalized on the economic situation of Gen Zers is Dollar Tree (can’t say we saw this one coming!). Dollar Tree maintains an active TikTok profile with nearly 65,000 followers. The brand frequently shares content showing products both in-store, and in-use out in the world. Dollar Tree is appealing to Gen Zer’s desire for authenticity while presenting them with affordable products.

Three screenshots from Dollar Tree's TikTok showing a gnome, skincare finds, and snacks for a movie night

Another example of a brand effectively using TikTok to appeal to Gen Z is Delta Airlines. Delta correctly uses trending audio and video formats to reach younger customers, and it has amassed over 500,000 followers on the app.

3 Screenshots from Delta's TikTok account showing Biscoff cookies, two pilots vibing, and their rendition of the It's Corn! trend

Motivated by Self Care

Emotional and physical health is very important for Gen Zers. They want service and hospitality brands they interact with to align with their drive for self-care. 

Gen Z places their emotional health ahead of almost anything else and makes decisions accordingly. If something is going to affect them negatively, they’re out. If something is going to respect and support their mental health, they’re all in.

A young athlete looks at the camera while touching the fitbit on her wrist

Over half of Gen Z wears tech that monitors their health. This demonstrates their clear preference for activities with physical aspects at their core. It also exemplifies this generation’s interest in blending online and offline experiences, also known as haptic experiences, that benefit their self-care efforts.

Examples of Self-Care in Marketing

Appeal to Gen Z with content that makes them feel like they’re receiving exclusive information and emphasizes self-care. Create tourism videos showing ‘hidden gems’ and ‘POV’ videos of walking through resorts, restaurants, and destinations to be very effective with this audience.

Marriott Bonvoy demonstrates their ability to reach Gen Z by posting tavel hacks, POV videos, and content that seems to be revealing secrets

Marriott Bonvoy demonstrates its ability to appeal to the Gen Z audience with content that shows travel hacks, first-hand experiences with self-care activities (for some of us, bottle service is self care), and hidden gem videos. This brand has amassed over 190,000 followers on TikTok.

How to Market to the Gen Z Audience

Influencer marketing and organic social media marketing effectively reach Gen Z. For niche companies, identifying rarer platforms for digital advertising can increase the size of the Gen Z audience reached and deliver results quickly. 

Developing a comprehensive content marketing strategy will also tap into Gen Z’s interests and the pain points they express in search queries. To understand this audience’s needs, conduct keyword research related to your industry vertical.

Our agency uses digital tools and expertise to identify the right audience for your brand to speak to, what you should say to them, and how you should present content that will engage them. Reach out to us to learn more about how we can help you reach Gen Z.


Frequently Asked Questions

How can I reach Gen Z with digital marketing?

To reach Gen Z with digital marketing, use organic techniques that incorporate the pain points, values, and keywords that they are using in search. Content should be presented in a way that demonstrates authenticity and is especially effective if it touches on sustainability or self-care.

Why is my Gen Z customer base so small?

You might think your Gen Z customer base is small because this generation is just beginning to enter the consumer market share. By 2027, Gen Z is projected to have a more active role in purchasing decisions because they will be more integrated into the workforce and will have their own disposable income.

What social media networks does Gen Z use?

Gen Z’s most used social media platforms are TikTok, Snapchat, YouTube, and Instagram. Using these social networks to reach Gen Z is a powerful way to increase engagement with this audience which might lead to bookings or continued brand interactions.

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