Millennials, you’ve been replaced.

Gen Z is swooping in and becoming the subject matter of countless articles uncovering what makes this generation tick. Born from the mid 1990s to as late as 2015, this next batch of consumers are progressive, digitally native, and aware of marketers’ ploys to reach them before attempts even begin. However, instead of acting as a roadblock, Gen Z’s recognition and understanding of advertising allows marketers to get straight to the point. And when it comes to the strategy of content marketing, you can use this to capture their ever-shifting attention and deliver resonating content in a snap.When marketing to Gen Z and this rising audience, here are some methods to keep them engaged.

Start with causes that matter to them 

With unlimited access to news and the wealth of knowledge the internet provides, Gen Z frequently keeps up with causes that matter to them. For example, environmental activist Greta Thunberg is just a teenager, yet took up the gauntlet on climate change where she felt world leaders were missing the mark. This generation has passion, and isn’t afraid to show it. If we align with and prioritize issues that they care about, we’re one step closer to giving this generation a reason to tune in to our messages.

However, if not delivered authentically, this purpose-driven content can explode for all the wrong reasons. For example, Pepsi pulled an ad starring Kendall Jenner sharing a Pepsi with a police officer in the midst of a protest. Critics claimed the ad made light of the Black Lives Matter movement, and that this serious cause couldn’t be solved by sharing a soft drink.

Credit: Pepsi via YouTube

Pepsi’s failed campaign shows that this new generation doesn’t shy away from calling out brands missing the mark. When it comes to the strategy of content marketing, carefully craft your message and make sure you don’t face Gen Z’s “cancel” culture where they call it out on social media.

Prioritize diversity and inclusion

In a similar fashion, Gen Z applauds diversity in campaigns of virtually any kind. From gender expression to racial background to everything in between, they understand that society comes in all forms. Gen Z is more likely to purchase from and give their hard-earned dollars to a brand whose values align with their own, and the strategy of content marketing can be buoyed by choosing diverse viewpoints. Incorporating these into your messaging will show your brand prioritizes this just as much as they do.

This year’s pride month was one way brands were marketing to Gen Z and celebrating inclusion, with an abundance of pride collections, rainbow logos, special products, and video series, such as JetBlue’s RuPaul’s Drag Race takeover with their “Shantay, Blye Stay” plane. 

Credit: VH1 via YouTube

JetBlue successfully used a fan-favorite show, RuPaul’s Drag Race to show support for the LGBTQ+ community in a humorous, yet thoughtful way.

Steer away from traditional advertising

By this point, Gen Z knows the ins-and-outs of traditional advertising, and won’t be sticking around to watch an ad on cable TV or ads played ahead of content. They often use ad blockers and skip advertising altogether, paying for subscriptions and opting for packages that offer no ads for a small fee. 

You know what Gen Z loves more than that TV spot? GIFs. YouTube videos. Virtually anything shareable. For example, television show Great British Bakeoff shares GIFs on Twitter of their episodes in real-time. By creating these looping images on Twitter, their over half a million followers can easily share these on their social accounts.

When creating this alternative content, just remember to keep it short, simple, and creative.

Turn to data

Wade into data that you have at your disposal to figure out what makes this audience tick (and if you don’t have any, we suggest you fix that). Ask questions like, “What are they paying attention to? What are they reading? How are they feeling about what they’re reading? Follow the answers and weave these insights into your content.

You can also use the data that you collect to create your own infographics, research reports and white papers. These can position you as a thought leader in the space, are heavily shared, and can boost the position of your content in search results. For example, has released 8 white papers on the singles population in the U.S.. Shutterstock has created their wildly popular Creative Trends Report detailing upcoming trends in design and media. This information can be helpful as a Gen Z-er works on school papers or stumbles across an article giving insights into their love life thanks to match.

Credit: Shutterstock

As Gen Z comes into buying power (estimated at $143 billion per year), they enter the market with incredible influence and authority on what will work in content marketing. By marketing to Gen Z, you can show that you can keep pace with the evolving tastes of consumers.

Jan 27, 2020