Why Your Online Marketing Strategy Needs To Cater To Millennials And Gen Z

By Christopher Hansen, IgnitionOne

In 2019, Gen Z will surpass Millennials as the
most populous generation, comprising roughly
32% of the population. Since the birth of the Internet, brands have looked to
Millennials for advice on the latest trends and influences. But with the influx
of Gen Z, brands must now revamp their marketing strategies to cater to both

Neglecting to look at the world through the
lens of a Millennial or member of Gen Z will lead to the slow death of a brand.
Online advertising in the form of social media — and even in more blunt tactics
such as remarketing — creates truly addressable and trackable collective
experiences. While this may make some large brand marketers squeamish, online
is where everything is consumed for the rising generations. And it’s where
brands need to exist to make their voices heard.


Reaching and engaging with different audiences
is where online advertising truly excels. Marketers afraid to experiment and
innovate are more at risk by trying to reach these generations with a broad
message on traditional channels, instead of targeting them with personalized
ads based on available data about them and their friends. Today’s customers
aren’t watching “must-see” network programming, but these programs are most
definitely advertising their favorite brands: Starbucks, not McDonald’s or
Wendy’s, and Glossier, not L’Oréal or Maybelline. Instagram can target truly
based on the interests of their tribe — and they are acutely aware of it.

Power Of Social Advertising For Gen Z

Gen Z spends an average of 2 hours 43 minutes a day on social media. All
of Gen Z’s population have grown up with technology and are comfortable with
sharing their lives online. They want their network to engage with their
content and live in a world where a ‘like’ is equivalent to a compliment in
real life (IRL). In order for marketers to successfully engage with this group,
it’s important to be equally relevant both online and offline — hence, the
power of social advertising.

The biggest distinction for the Gen Z
generation is that they want their favorite brands to stand for something.
We’ve seen it with Nike and Colin Kaepernick. Airbnb and the ‘We
Accept’ campaign. P&G’s ‘Like a Girl’ and ‘We
See Equal
’ initiatives. This audience responds better when the
brands they favor are speaking out on social media on the social issues that
affect their communities, through online advertising. But the biggest point to
remember is the message must be truthful. Gen Z customers are discerning, and
can easily sniff out a brand’s disingenuous messaging. Moreover, not only will
they call out a brand for hypocrisy or a contrived marketing scheme, but they
may likely band together to boycott the brand.

Similar to how groups of customers can be
segmented into generational audiences, so can companies. As e-Commerce continues
to dominate shopping habits, direct-to-consumer (DTC) companies have sprouted
in droves. These companies excel not only at social media engagement but at
online advertising and owning customer relationships, specifically targeting
Gen Z. Brands like Casper, Warby Parker and Dollar Shave Club are working with
influencers to drive the brand message, and are creating seamlessly integrated
ads. The DTC model reflects the Gen Z way of marketing: know your audience and
create a genuine connection with them.

Millennial Advantage: Online And Offline

Whereas Gen Z has grown up with technology and
the Internet, Millennials have lived in a world before it existed. They
understand how traditional marketing and advertising works, whether through a
direct mail or TV ad. Millennials are also slower to post their lives on social
platforms, averaging 6 hours and 19 minutes on social media each
week. Employed Millennials between the ages of 25 and 34 spend 6.4 hours a day checking their email, while
more than a third check their work mail before leaving the bed.

Because of this distinction, marketers must cater to
understand how to directly connect with Millennials outside of social
platforms. Yes, they exist on social, and yes, they want to connect with brands
there. But they also value a personalized email blast or anything that demonstrates
that you understand their interests.

Additionally, Millennials tend to value the relationship
and experiences that brands are creating. They love to participate and are
candid about their feedback. As a brand, it’s important to create an outlet for
a Millennial to connect, either through a social media contest or a product
review. La Croix is a great example of a brand that is bringing the product
into a social conversation. By asking customers to tag their Instagram photos
with #lacroix, the brand is creating a one-to-one connection with its fans.

It All Together 

There are more insights into target audiences
than ever before. Marketers know exactly how customers are engaging with social
content and which types of ads or messages lead to purchases. Millennials and
Gen Z are telling marketers exactly what interests them, across the platforms
they use the most. Instagram and Snapchat ads work because it’s where these
customers are.

If marketers are not targeting Gen Z and
Millennials with personalized online ads based on what you know about them and
their friends, on the social platforms they’re using, you risk being completely
left behind. Consumers live in a digital era. These audiences are unlikely to
respond to a broad message delivered in a TV commercial or on the side of a

As Gen Z continues to attract and retain media
attention and drive social media usage, savvy brands should tailor their online
advertising strategies to stay ahead of the curve. As for Millennials, with
their over $1 trillion in purchasing power, it’s vital
for marketers to speak to this generation’s interests and needs.

Christopher Hansen is the Chief
Operating Officer of IgnitionOne, where he leads
corporate operations and strategy. With over 20 years of executive management
experience, Hansen previously was Chief Product Officer, leading the product
development of IgnitionOne’s Customer Intelligence Platform. Hansen has held
various leadership positions including President of IgnitionOne’s display
business, Netmining, and SVP of Performance Media at 360i, where he helped lead
the sale to Dentsu Aegis Network. Prior to joining 360i, Hansen led Direct
Marketing at 24/7 Media (now Xaxis), and also managed the 24/7 Advertising
Network, helping to grow the network’s revenue yield and advertising inventory.
He holds a BA in Political Science and Art History from Syracuse University.

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