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How to Use the Power and Influence of Gen Z to Your Business Advantage

Last updated March 21, 2023 8 min to read
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As new generations age up, the business world must shift to meet new trends or be left in the dust. The world of eCommerce, in particular, continues to grow and morph with each passing year as the core audience becomes more tech-savvy.

It started with the millennial generation and is continuing as Gen-Z enters adulthood. Millennials experienced the tech boom during their lifetimes, but Gen-Z was born into it. They’ve never known a world without the internet, cell phones, and online shopping.

That means eCommerce stores will need to shift their thinking as they try to appeal to this new generation. Gen Z brings with it a lot of power and influence. It’s your job as an eCommerce professional to understand what they want and harness the power of their influence to create a solid future for your online store.

But what changes will Gen Z bring to the eCommerce world? And how can you market your store in a way that directly appeals to them?

Read on to find out.

How is Gen Z changing the eCommerce game?

As we briefly mentioned, Gen Z is the most tech-savvy generation of all time. They were born between 1997 and 2010, meaning that even elder Gen Z-ers have never known a world without the internet. That means if your platform lacks features or functionality, they'll know and take their business elsewhere.

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They’re an environmentally and socially conscious generation that respects transparency from the brands they deal with. Gen Z is heavily into social media and puts a lot of faith in the opinions of influencers.

They appreciate sustainable products and are known for their devotion to their pets. Gen Z shopping habits are belief-driven. Services like cat insurance are booming because of Gen Zers’ desire to protect their furry family members. These young shoppers appreciate an omnichannel shopping experience and are known as the first generation of true omnichannel consumers.

Gen Z is also a lot less trusting than millennials. While 50% of millennial shoppers report trusting the businesses they frequent, only 42% of Gen Z trust their chosen brands.

Now that we have a good idea of what makes Gen Z different from their millennial counterparts, let’s dive into what you can do to make your eCommerce brand more appealing to them.

How can you successfully market your eCommerce store to Gen Z?

Create an omnichannel experience

Gen Z shoppers love an omnichannel shopping experience. That means they want to interact with brands through multiple touchpoints. This includes platforms in the digital world as well as physical locations.

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If you’re a retail brand with a physical store, an eCommerce website, and a mobile app, you’ll need to create a seamless experience between them. What happens on the digital platform impacts shopping in the physical store and vice-versa. Omnichannel eCommerce aims to create a consistent experience that’s always on brand.

When creating an omnichannel eCommerce brand to appeal to Gen Z, it’s important that you:

  • Understand the customer journey in its entirety
  • Personalize the experience as much as possible
  • Convey a cohesive message that’s consistent across all touchpoints

Put effort into your UX

You’ll need to pay careful attention to the user experience on your eCommerce website and app. While Gen Z consumers often shop through social media platforms, they frequently shop directly from eCommerce stores as well.

But remember, these people grew up with the internet and have been there for every shifting trend. That means you must keep the features of your website on the cutting edge and ensure that no performance issues get in the way of the shopping experience.

To create a seamless shopping experience, continuously upgrade your UX with the latest tech trends. Right now, this would include adding Augmented Reality (AR) features, but in six months, it’ll be something else entirely.

This is a vital piece of the Gen Z marketing puzzle, as 30% of Gen Z shoppers have stated that they want seamless experiences.

If you want to build trust with Gen Z, giving them 15/10 quality and offering them benefits will always be the best approach. Allying with a courier service when you start out will help offer same-day delivery on products, which can be great for your overall user experience, keeping this growing audience coming back for more.

Make content interactive

One of the best ways to reach Gen Z shoppers is with interactive content. These consumers want to be able to click, swipe, and tap on posts, interacting with them as though they’re real, tangible items they can touch.

This includes something like an Instagram Story that shows off your product. You can create some stunning visuals and then allow the shopper to swipe up on the video to be taken right to your store.

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Another great way to introduce interactive elements to Gen Z shoppers is by encouraging conversation. This could include something as simple as asking a question on social media posts or providing a poll that users can click on. Often, they’ll feel a need to explain their vote in the form of a comment. Your brand can then comment back and forth until a full-blown conversation happens.

You can even add clickable poll options to your Instagram stories, making them more fun and interactive for a modern audience that craves this content. Consider adding quizzes to your ecommerce site that'll match your customers with specific products. When you do this, you’re hitting a few positive notes. You’re providing interactive elements and injecting personalization into the eCommerce experience.

That’s a Gen Z home run.

Partner with influencers

Remember how we said earlier that Gen Z shoppers don’t trust the businesses they frequent? Well, you know who they do trust? Their peers.

That’s why influencer marketing has proven so successful with the Gen Z audience. By partnering with popular social media personalities and getting them to review and discuss your products on their platforms, you can appeal directly to the Gen Z buyer through an intermediary.

An impressive 44% of Gen Z shoppers have made a purchase based on the recommendation of a social media influencer. That’s why so many brands are flocking to social platforms to team up with these popular individuals.

Considering that Gen Z is very active on TikTok and TikTok works perfectly for influencer marketing purposes, collaborating with TikTok influencers can be beneficial for any business. Given how much TikTok pays, influencers are always eager to create content. Collaborating with businesses and brands is also an exciting venture for them. Their content's popularization and high view rates are equally beneficial for the business and the influencer, so it’s a win-win situation.

Of course, you can’t expect an influencer to repeat your corporate messaging to their audience. They need to discuss your brand naturally and authentically. Gen Z shoppers appreciate transparency and authenticity, meaning these should be the tentpoles of your influencer marketing efforts.

Lean into social media

Obviously, social media will be hugely effective when marketing to Gen Z. They’re the social media generation. Gen Zers practically live on these platforms, using them for entertainment, socialization, discretionary income, and shopping.

When it comes to social media, 81% of Gen Z say Instagram and YouTube are their preferred social networks of choice. And when asked which networks Gen Z wants to see brands use more of, 56% said Instagram, while 38% pointed to YouTube.

Given Generation Z's preference for short-form video content, marketers should consider incorporating visual platforms into their strategies and creating bite-sized content like Instagram Stories. A social media management tool will make this job easier for you, as you can integrate your social media platforms for better organization, planning, and scheduling of publications. This will, in turn, make it easier to get new customers.

You should use social media influence over Gen Z by creating interactive content and influencer campaigns around their preferred platforms. Your posts need to be strategic and appeal to their sensibilities directly.

For example, Instagram Stories vanish after a set amount of time. This time-sensitive interactive content can play to Gen Z’s Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) and keep them returning for more.

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The Instagram Drops feature, pictured above, can also be helpful for FOMO marketing.

Keep messaging shorter and more impactful

Gen Z isn’t looking for long-form content. They want short, punchy messaging that gets right to the point and makes an impact.

This generation thrives on TikTok videos, tweets, and Instagram Stories. The one thing that all of these have in common is that they’re short. Work on creating punchy social media posts that make your product look interesting. Include visuals like photos and videos to really capture their attention.

Be socially responsible

Gen Z is one of the most socially responsible generations of all time. They care about the world around them and want to ensure that the brands they buy from share their sensibilities. This Gen Z generation is willing to drop a brand instantly if they catch a whiff of anything that smells socially fishy.

That’s why 51% of Gen Z consumers research the companies they buy from extensively. They don’t just buy for the brand name. They want to ensure that you share their corporate social responsibility values before giving you a dime. If you don’t, they’ll look elsewhere.

That means you should be giving back to the community and working to raise environmental awareness if you want to appeal to these shoppers. Fighting for social justice causes and acknowledging events like Pride Month and Black History Month will be huge with Gen Z shoppers.

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To make Gen Z interested in fashion brands, it's crucial to understand what drives their fashion choices. They value authenticity, inclusivity, and sustainability. They also tend to look for versatile and durable pieces that can be mixed and matched with different outfits.

For example, when it comes to leather jackets, Gen Z's love for this classic piece of clothing is undeniable. To capture their attention, fashion brands should prioritize sustainable and ethical leather sourcing, provide unique and versatile designs, and market a statement piece that can last for years.

Brands can also tap into Gen Z's interest in customization by offering options for personalizing their jackets. Leather Cult knows their audience loves Hollywood and tailors custom leather jackets in various celebrity styles to order.

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Delta 8 gummies have also gained popularity among Gen Z due to their unique properties that provide a relaxing yet uplifting experience. Unlike Delta 9 THC, Delta 8 is legal in many states, making it more accessible to consumers. Additionally, Delta 8 gummies are available in various flavors, dosages, and shapes, making them an appealing option for those who prefer a discreet and tasty way to consume cannabis.

Brands looking to capitalize on Gen Z's interest in Delta 8 gummies can emphasize the product's natural and organic ingredients, sustainability practices, and commitment to social responsibility. They can also create social media campaigns that align with Gen Z's values, such as promoting inclusivity, diversity, and eco-friendliness.

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Monitor success and adapt

It’s important to remember when marketing to any audience that trends change, often quickly. To that end, you need to constantly monitor the success or failure of your Gen Z marketing campaigns to determine where you’ve gone right and wrong.

Just because something worked marvelously in Q1 doesn’t mean it’ll pay off similarly for the rest of the year. When you see a drop, it’s important to examine what went wrong and determine how to correct it. You can’t be rigid in your plans. You must be flexible enough to change courses at a moment’s notice and adapt to the changing needs of your audience.

Conclusion

Gen Z shoppers will quickly overtake the market, becoming the dominant consumer demographic. Because of that, you need to understand how Gen Z consumers think and what they want to see from the brands they frequent. Then shift your marketing plans to appeal to them directly.

To review, when trying to market to Gen Z, make sure that you:

  • Create an omnichannel experience
  • Put real effort into your UX
  • Make interactive content
  • Partner with social media influencers
  • Lean into social media marketing
  • Keep your messaging short and impactful
  • Show social responsibility
  • Monitor your success and adapt accordingly

If you stick with these tips and tricks, you should be able to prepare your eCommerce business for an ever-growing Gen Z audience.

About the author

Shane Barker is a digital marketing consultant who specializes in influencer marketing, content marketing, and SEO. He is also the co-founder and CEO of Content Solutions, a digital marketing agency. He has consulted with Fortune 500 companies, influencers with digital products, and a number of A-List celebrities.

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