Gen Z – the generation that’s sent marketers into a frenzy with their unique behaviors and media consumption habits. This woke and aware cohort has a collective $4.4 Trillion in spending power collectively, with $1.9 trillion in North America alone, so it’s no wonder why brands are scrambling to figure out the best Gen Z trends to reach them.
As the most connected generation yet, Gen Z is often called “digital natives” due to their familiarity with technology from a young age. While it’s easy to think of Gen Z as one homogenous group, in reality, they’re a diverse crowd–and understanding what drives them is key for marketers trying to target this age group.
Knowing their media consumption habits can help you craft campaigns that give this demographic what they want.
In this article, we’ll break down who Gen Z is, what brands are doing to target them, and outline some of the more popular Gen Z trends.
Gen Z Trends: How Do Gen Zers Think?
Gen Z is a complex generation and has different motivations for media consumption. They are driven by values of authenticity, democracy, personalization, collaboration, convenience, and sustainability. A national survey by BBMG and GlobeScan revealed that, by a 5-to-1 margin, Gen Z does not trust businesses to act in the best interests of society, and nearly one in four can’t recall a single brand they consider to be purposeful.
Snapchat also found that Gen Z has five core values:
- Making money
- Having fun
- Accomplishing their goals
- Caring for their health and well-being
- Prioritizing their relationships
These values show that Gen Z wants a healthy work-life balance to ensure they have time for friends and family.
5 Gen Z Trends To Incorporate In 2023
Gen Z’s unique media consumption habits have created several trends essential for marketers to include in their strategies. Here’s a look at some of the biggest Gen Z trends to watch out for in 2023:
1. Mobile-First Content
75% of Gen Zers considered mobile phones their device of choice. Gen Z media is mobile-first, and the generation is more likely to engage with content designed for mobile devices, such as videos, stories, and GIFs. 25% of respondents in a study stated they spend more than five hours a day on mobile devices. And they don’t just use this time to shop and browse; they also use it to text and chat with their friends, play games, and access entertainment and news.
Nike has done an incredible job at winning over Gen Z consumers with its inclusive, mobile-first approach. Customers can shop directly from its Instagram using the View Shop button that takes them to the product page.
Takeaway: Create apps for e-commerce stores, make it easy for Gen Z to shop directly from Snapchat, Instagram, and TikTok, and make sure your website is mobile-friendly. Create mobile-friendly content that’s accessible across all devices.
2. Social Shopping
Nearly three-quarters of Gen Z follow influencers on social media, and a majority say social media is where they most often learn about new products they’re interested in. Gen Z also considers YouTube influencers, such as PewDiePie and MrBeast, as popular as celebrities with influencers and trusts them more to make buying decisions.
Being knowledgeable about the product they’re promoting and relatable to the audiences they’re promoting makes influencers more appealing to 55% of Gen Zers. 55% of Gen Z individuals say that recommendations from influencers are one of the most important factors in their purchase decision.
The jewelry brand Mejuri uses micro-influencers to promote its products. Kate Case, for instance, currently has 3k followers, which is a little by traditional influencer standards. But because she seems like an everyday person, her content would feel authentic to a younger audience.
Takeaway: Create meaningful partnerships with influencers and micro-influencers popular with Gen Zers. Research who they follow, what they like, and the content they create. Influencers should be authentic, as Gen Zers tend to trust an honest opinion rather than a paid endorsement.
3. Driven By Values
50% of Gen Zers firmly believe brands should take a stance on social issues such as climate change, racial justice, and LGBTQ+ rights). Gen Z is also the most racially and ethnically diverse generation, with 43% identifying as non-white.
The Snapchat generation is 3X more likely to say businesses should “serve communities and society” rather than simply “make good products and services.” Brands are also more likely to be called out by Gen Z than all others to make a difference by “using their voice to advocate or speak out” on the most pressing issues of our times.
Back in 2017, Fenty Beauty launched with 40 foundation shades, consistent with their focus on inclusive beauty. They’ve since become the standard in cosmetic equality and representation. A quick look at Fenty’s Instagram feed shows an array of skin colors and culturally-diverse models. That’s how it’s done.
Takeaway: Speak out on pressing issues and create meaningful partnerships with organizations that align with your brand values. But choose causes carefully and follow through. Gen Z values authenticity, and hollow promises won’t cut it. Maintain your advocacy as part of your corporate culture and share stories that illustrate your impact.
4. Social Media Platforms As Search Engines
Looking for recipes? Use TikTok. Outfit ideas? Instagram it.
Gen Z is the world’s first truly native digital generation, so it’s no surprise that they’ve embraced social media platforms as search engines. Gen Z prefers visual learning over traditional text-based learning. Nearly 40% of young people ignore Google and instead turn to TikTok or Instagram. The visual nature of these platforms makes it easier to get answers and ideas quickly.
Adobe Express has several tutorials, such as making a phone background or 2023 vision board, on its TikTok profile. Users can watch and recreate the same design with short, engaging videos.
Takeaway: Use multiple platforms and optimize Gen Z media content for each platform. Create visuals that appeal to their visual nature, such as short videos and stories that are easy to digest.
5. User-Generated Content (UGC) At The Forefront
Content creation is at the very core of Gen Z’s digital habits. 60% of TikTok users are Gen Zers, and they are creating, consuming, and sharing content non-stop. Gen Zers prefer UGC because it feels more authentic, which helps build trust with the brand. 70% of Gen Z consider UGC when making purchase decisions.
Gone are the days when celebrities printed a scripted sentence for an advertisement. Today’s young consumers want to see their peers using the product and talking about it.
Starbucks regularly reposts reels from customers who’ve used or featured Starbucks products in their content. Christmas time, in particular, is full of customers posting content with Starbucks holiday-themed cups and seasonal drinks like toasted white chocolate mocha.
- Ask your customers to share stories and photos of them using your product, tag the brand in social posts or write a review on your website.
- Showcase user-generated content on your website and create Gen Z campaigns that promote user-submitted content.
- Highlight authentic stories and interactions and use them as a bridge between Gen Zers and your brand.
Fun, Creative Content
Think about how many trends we’ve seen on TikTok in the past year. Dance challenges, recipes, and lip-syncing battles seem to keep evolving and inspire users to create new content. 68% of all Gen Zers use TikTok, and 81% of Gen Zs use TikTok to find funny or entertaining content, and Gen Zers have high affinity for humor. Considering Gen Z is the most stressed demographic, it’s no wonder they seek lighthearted content.
- Appeal to Gen Z’s humor and have fun with your content.
- Get creative and look for unique opportunities to engage your audience.
- Use trending audio and visual formats to create fresh content and increase your chances of going viral.
Create Marketing Campaigns That Click With Gen Z
With this generation set to be the biggest consumers of the future, it’s important to be aware of Gen Z trends to appeal to them. Understand what makes them tick and use the right content on the right platforms to reach them. Experiment with different types of content and marketing strategies to determine what resonates with your target audience.
Whatever you do, make sure you’re authentic and entertaining. Gen Zers have a penchant for funny, creative content that resonates with their experiences. Keep your content engaging, relevant, and true to your brand identity—this is the key to capturing Gen Z’s attention.