Ignore Gen Zers at Your Brand’s Peril

Dear House Rules,

Our company has advertised to Baby Boomers for ages, so we know what works and what doesn’t for them. A few years ago, we started an active marketing push toward Millennials, based on a new product that was used almost exclusively by patients in that age range. Now, though, we’re trying to reach out to the generation coming up behind them – “Generation Z,” I’ve heard them called – as we market our new birth control pill to teenage and college-age women. The problem? We have no idea how to talk to these customers. Heck, most of us can’t even get two words out of our own teenagers! Where do we start?


Feeling My Age

Dear Age,

It does indeed require different marketing tactics to reach the Gen Z demographic, but it’s worth it. Just to define our terms, Gen Z includes those born in the mid-1990s to the early 2000s. Gen Zers are, as you noted, the teenagers of today. They are also the fastest growing group of tomorrow’s trendsetters, and at an estimated 60 million, they make up over 25% of the U.S. population.

First and foremost, keep in mind that Gen Zers are digital natives. They grew up with smartphones, apps, and new media. In fact, they rarely (if ever) consume “old” media. Network TV? Use your favorite streaming service to binge watch. Movies? Uh, hello? Netflix, anyone? Magazines are, of course, digital magazines, and books are on Kindle. There’s one activity, however, that you’re more likely to find teens doing more than any other: checking out social media sites on their phones. The surest way to reach this group is to use social media, but here are a few rules to follow:

• They’re protective of their privacy
Gen Zers expect hyper-personal experiences on social media, knowing that tons of data are available to marketers, but they’re also keen to protect their privacy.
Marketers need make sure they connect with Gen Zers on their own terms so that they don’t come across as creepy or too invasive. Less than one-third of teens say they are comfortable sharing personal details, according to IBM’s survey Uniquely Gen Z. But 61 percent would feel better sharing personal information with brands if they could trust it was being securely stored and protected.

• They’re more guarded on social media
Gen Zers have learned from previous generations that what goes on the internet stays on the internet (forever), and prefer to browse anonymously. Newer, more ephemeral apps like Snapchat and Yik Yak are popular among teens. More established sites like Facebook, where it’s harder to conceal your identity and hide from parents, are less so. They still use the site, but 34 percent of US teens think Facebook is for “old people.” To develop accurate audience personas, brands should focus on private and direct channels to engage one-on-one with teenagers.

• They’re OK with more ads on social
As digital natives, Gen Zers have developed a high tolerance for digital ads. For example, even though 39 percent of teens think YouTube has too many ads, the video platform remains the most popular with this generation by far. That catch is that Gen Zers also tend to have much shorter attention spans. On average, marketers have about 8 seconds to reach a teen before they keep scrolling. So videos should deliver early impact and content should be packaged in bite-sized formats.

• They’re open to new concepts like virtual reality
Teens aren’t only open to engaging with brands: they’re ready to engage with new concepts, too. They’re also most enthusiastic about the potential of virtual reality. This openness to experimentation gives marketers opportunities to surprise and delight teens with creative campaigns and concepts. Live video, 360 video and other formats have proven popular with younger viewers

At Xavier Creative House, we specialize in these newer audiences and technologies. We’d love to share our expertise with you, and hope you’ll reach out via web, phone, or social media soon!



Reference: 1. https://blog.hootsuite.com/generation-z-statistics-social-marketers/. Accessed April 2, 2018.

About Xavier Creative House

Founded in 2013, Xavier Creative House (XCH) is an award-winning healthcare creative agency specializing in pharmaceutical, biotech, and medical device. XCH’s global team of brand builders and healthcare marketers, tech-savvy go-getters, and innovative dream-vetters are passionate about the big idea that changes behavior in the healthcare marketplace. They believe life is about connections and that healthcare is about life. That is why XCH delivers bold and evocative creative solutions, amplified by meaningful technology, to energize brands and authentically connect with patients and HCPs.

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