The Journey Implications for Generation Z

Generation Z is now the biggest growing market for businesses to tap intoWhen you think of Generation Z, a number of stereotypes might come to your head: they’ve got short attention spans, they crave instant gratification, or they spend all of their time on their phones. Based on that, Gen Z may sound like a nightmare audience for marketers to target. But how can brands appeal to the Gen Z market? Getting this right is important because these young customers have more buying power than you might think. In 2020, Gen Z will account for about 40% of the market and are estimated to have a buying power of $44 billion, which rises to $600 billion when you account for the influence they have over their parents’ spending. No matter your industry, you cannot afford to ignore the different ways that Gen Z communicates and receives marketing and advertising messages.


What Makes Gen Z Journeys Different

Gen Z grew up using the internet for nearly every aspect of their lives. Furthermore, many assume their familiarity implies mastery. This makes them susceptible to online marketing. In the US, 89% of teenagers and young adults use the internet daily—45% say their internet use is “constant” and another 44% go online multiple times a day—compared to the 81% of adults who use the internet every day. Additionally, while Gen Z values privacy, 69% of young people are willing to share their data with companies if it leads to more personalization. 

Making noise is not enough to attract a Gen Z buyer. Gen Z is drawn to companies that align with their principles; they want to see what is important to them and the world reflected in brands. Gen Z tends to be progressive, authentic, and socially conscious. Where older generations may urge companies to “stay out of politics”, Gen Z generally wants companies they support to have strong values and identities, as well as stand on important topics, such as diversity, climate change, and other world issues. This, coupled with Gen Z’s famously short attention span, means companies may only have a few seconds to influence their buying behavior. 

Integrating Geneneration Z’s Favorite Platforms Into a Cohesive Journey: Instagram, Snapchat, and YouTube

Understanding what Gen Z wants is only part of the challenge of appealing to them. You also need to design experiences that engage on their level. Companies need to know what platforms young people prefer and how to engage with them across those channels. Below we explore some of the top channels and how you can build journeys to support them. 


sharing their social media is a key engagement for Gen ZInstagram is the most popular traditional social media site among young people, with 72% of teens saying they use the site. A whopping 1 billion people use Instagram every month, and 200 million of those users will visit the page of a business every day, making Instagram a great place to engage with customers. Instagram’s potential advertisement reach is 849.3 million users, 52.9 million of those being people between the ages of 13 and 17. 

Through Instagram, companies can target users based on their data, advertising to potential customers without having to wait for the customer to engage first. Additionally, targeting users on a site where personal information is willingly given opens the door for more personalization, which Gen Z values. For example, a company selling dorm furniture can advertise to someone who is college-bound by listening to their feed and then presenting them with a pillow or blanket with their college name on it. 

Traditional ads aren’t the only way to reach customers on Instagram. Instagram’s algorithm will show posts to people based on their activity on the site. A person who follows pages related to fashion, for example, will see posts on their home page about fashion, whether or not they follow those pages. So, a company with an active Instagram account may have their posts shown to people who have an interest in their product, therefore engaging with people without having to post an ad. Instagram is also a great place for companies to do promotions. A makeup company can use a popular beauty influencer to promote their product, which may be seen by thousands or millions of people. Young people are more willing to buy a product if it is endorsed by a person they admire. To maximize this influence, brands should leverage popular figures on Instagram.


Gen Z loves Snapchat228 million people use Snapchat every day, and global usage is expected to grow by 14% in 2020. 69% of people between 13 and 17 years old, along with 62% of 18-to-20-year-olds, are active on Snapchat. Like Instagram, Snapchat is an effective way to target young adults. Snapchat allows businesses to design multiple types of ads, ranging from photos to videos to stickers featuring company logos that users can decorate their own pictures with. Snapchat ads are unique, engaging, and most importantly effective. Brands who have taken advantage of Snapchat ads have reported a lower CPM rate and an equal or higher return on their spending compared to what they have found on other social media sites. Swarovski, who used Snapchat’s dynamic ads feature, claims that the ads delivered twice as high a return on its investment and saw “tremendous click-through rates and purchases”. For companies that aim to engage with young consumers, Snapchat is the perfect place. 


YouTube is one of the most popular websites in the world, particularly among young people. The platform has more than 2 billion users, and 81% of 15-25-year-olds use YouTube. Ads on YouTube receive more views than television ads, and the platform is expected to bring in advertising revenues of 4.3 billion in 2020. On YouTube, companies can advertise their products through the traditional ways—having their ad play during a video or as a still image somewhere on the YouTube site—or they can sponsor YouTube. Sponsoring popular YouTubers is a great way for brands to reach young people since promotions from trusted YouTubers bring the personal touch that many young customers are looking for from brands. Sponsored videos also have the potential to bring in millions of views. For example, a video by YouTuber Shane Dawson, which was sponsored by SeatGeek, has generated 15.9 sponsored views. Another YouTube, Dude Perfect, who had worked with brands such as Bass Pro Shops, Nerf, and 23andMe, has generated 67.2 million sponsored views. Brands can choose any popular YouTuber to sponsor a product, or they can try to target a specific audience. For example, a skincare company can reach an audience for their product by sponsoring a beauty Youtuber. Sponsored videos will urge viewers to look further into products, like checking out a brand’s website, which will then allow the brand to communicate with the customer further. 

How Gen Z Feels About Email

While social media is Generation Z’s preferred way to communicate with brands, email is not far behind. Young people use their email regularly; it is how they communicate with their teachers, classmates, bosses, coworkers, and more. Based on a survey of 300 people between the ages of 14 to 26, 58% of young people check their email multiple times a day and 23% check their email at least once a day. 64% of responders say that they use their email for personal communication, showing that it is a good channel for companies to engage with young customers. Since a majority of Gen Z receive 20 or fewer emails a day, companies will have less competition for attention than on other social media platforms. But, Gen Z often finds emails boring or pushy, so making sure emails are visually interesting and varying is crucial. Companies should never send the same email to someone more than once, and subject boxes and headlines should be personalized, featuring the customer’s name. 82.3% of Gen Z opens emails from brands to check for sales, so announcing any kind of discount front and center in emails will be appreciated. While email is a helpful channel for communicating with Gen Z, many young people will not buy products due to emails alone, so using email in tandem with social media is important. Use emails to draw customers to your social media sites, furthering engagement. 

The Gen Z Journey Will be Unique

Gen Z has preferred ways of engaging that differ from previous generations. Therefore, companies cannot default to the same strategies and tactics to target Gen Z as they would with any other generation. They must change their customer journey to be ready to target Gen Z individuals on a 1-to-1 level. Even as you use algorithms to target them, you must present the image that they are engaging with a company on equal and friendly terms. Use popular social media platforms, as well as email, to reach out to young customers before they initiate contact with you. Lead them on a personal journey to discovering what they want instead of relying on them to tell you their desires. Presenting your brand as an ally, a friend, a guiding hand—is the key to capturing the attention of Gen Z along with their buying power.

If you’re interested in seeing how you can manage real-time interactions for greater customer success, check out Kitewheel’s guide to Real-time Interaction Management.