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Gen Z: An Important But Challenging to Reach Generation

Learn how to effectively reach and engage Gen Z, the largest and most influential generation, with tips on authenticity, diversity, and meaningful actions from marketing experts at Huddled Masses.

Published on

Jul 10, 2024

Written by

Huddled Masses


Gen Z

Gen Z: An Important But Challenging to Reach Generation

The USA’s Largest Generation Comes of Age

As I write this, Gen Z is the largest generation on Earth -- accounting for 32% of the world’s population. By 2031, they will represent 31% of the US workforce.

Such numbers come with immense economic power, and the Gen Z generation is beginning to flex its economic might. Although they represent just 32% of the world’s population, they account for 40% of consumers worldwide, spending an average of $8,894 per consumer, or $450 billion each year. That’s about  5% of global retail spend, but by 2030 will grow to 17%.

The upshot? Reaching and engaging Gen Zers is essential to every brand’s sustainability, market relevance, and long-term growth.

Why Brands Fail to Connect to Gen Z

Connecting to Gen Z has proven to be a source of frustration to marketers. As a generation that grew up in the shadow of extreme polarization, the impacts of climate change, and economic inequality, they are not as trusting as previous generations.

Importantly, Gen Z is the first generation where nearly half of its members identify as non-white, and this has a huge impact on all Gen Z members (and consumers across all generations). They expect brands to celebrate diversity and provide inclusive representation across their marketing and product offerings.

Gen Z values authenticity above all else and can easily detect inauthenticity or disingenuous marketing tactics from brands. They are skeptical of traditional advertising and marketing ploys. Ads that include people of color without speaking directly to the community’s needs are met with cynicism.

Additionally, traditional marketing and advertising methods are ineffective for this digital-native generation. All too often, we’ve seen brands come to Huddled Masses because they’ve struggled to innovate their advertising and marketing tactics, and consequently, failed to connect with Gen Z. Our teams spend a lot of time helping brands better understand the right  channels and content that resonate with Gen Zers.

How to Reach and Engage Gen Z

Huddled Masses has worked with a wide array of brands to develop, implement and optimize marketing and advertising initiatives that engage Gen Z. Through these efforts we have seen specific learnings bubble up. They are:

  1. Embrace diversity --  not diversity washing. Gen Z is keen to know a brand’s position on DEI, but extremely wary of diversity washing -- i.e. talking a good game but doing very little to support diversity within their own ranks. Given that multicultural and diverse populations significantly shape Gen Zers’ preferences, brands that authentically represent diverse voices and experiences in advertising and media campaigns will gain traction.

  2. Don’t virtual-signal -- take meaningful actions. Gen Zers shop their values. According to an ISCA report. More than half (53%) of Gen Z shoppers prefer to buy from brands that support mental health, and 47% prefer brands supporting sustainability initiatives, 47% prefer brands supporting racial and gender equality.

    If you want Gen Zers to support your brand, you’ll need to take meaningful action to support their values, including offering your employees mental health services, shrinking your carbon footprint, and recruiting from a diverse set of communities.

    But the upside is that your workforce will bring with them the viewpoints that resonate with the broader Gen Z community, enabling you to speak to the market authentically.

  3. Foster authentic connections. As digital natives, Gen Z spends significant time on social media platforms. Brands should create platform-specific content, engage in conversations.

    Social media preference isn’t static. For instance, we all assume that TikTok is the top platform of choice for Gen Z, but Morning Consult research indicates otherwise. According to the data, the social media platforms used by Gen Zers are YouTube (80%), Instagram (75%) and TikTok (69%). If Gen Z males are your audience, YouTube is an incredibly important platform, ans 96% of them are regular users.

How Huddled Masses Can Help You Reach & Engage Gen Z

Our teams provide end-to-end integrated marketing solutions for brands that want to reach and engage Gen Z. 

Our services begin with building a Gen Z audience who is right for your product or brand. With that insight in hand, we then identify the right channels and create custom KPIs to measure engagement, success and to better understand the consumer journey.

We can also help with creative development to ensure messages resonate with Gen Zers, as well as A/B test all ad content and formats in order to drive campaign optimization on a continuous basis.

Through our sister company, Colossus SSP, we can help you reach Gen Z on multicultural sites, as well as reach multicultural Gen Z audiences at scale on general, local and niche sites.

One of the most valuable skills our teams bring to the table is their expertise in social media campaigns. Checkout our success stories:

Get in Touch

Need help crafting an approach to Gen Z? Get in touch.

Checkout Our Research

Want more information? Download our report, Cracking The Code: How Multicultural & Gen Z Are Reshaping Mainstream Marketing Or view the webinar.

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