How to sell to Gen Z?

June 21, 2023
min read time
Iryna Koshelieva
Iryna Koshelieva
Senior Growth Marketer, Ring.io
How to sell to Gen Z?

TL; DR: you don’t.

The moment you push the try-hard button, Gen Z’s like, “Adios, amigos!”

Here we’ll try to understand this generation better: what motivates, inspires, and frightens them. Also, we’ll cover a few guidelines on how to approach selling to Gen Z, but that’s the closest we can get.

So, why should I want to sell to Gen Z?

Oh, you definitely should.

As the sun rises and sets, it shines on the most diverse, technologically fluent generation of our times – Generation Z. Spanning various life stages, this intriguing generation is just starting to flex its influence. At the younger end of the spectrum, they’re mastering multiplication tables, while the elders have traded lecture halls for office cubicles, and bedtime stories are no longer for them, but for their own little ones.

This powerful group is far from a minority; with 68.6 million Gen Z individuals marking their presence in the United States, they represent a hefty 20% of the country’s population. Not just a statistic, they’re a significant force that is increasingly leaving a prominent footprint on the nation’s socio-economic landscape.

They’re no longer just teenagers chilling in their bedrooms, browsing through social media. Indeed, the tide is turning as 38% of Gen Z has boldly stepped into the world of work. These digital natives are displaying their mettle as they navigate from part-time gigs to full-time employment and even brave the exciting world of entrepreneurship.

Nevertheless, they’re still straddling two worlds. The majority of Gen Z, a solid 51%, are still shaping their minds within academic walls, preparing to bring a fresh wave of thought and innovation to a world eagerly waiting for their contributions.

The Gen Z phenomenon is a rapidly evolving story. They are maturing, morphing, and growing – up and out – their potential waiting to unfurl in all its glory. This generation, armed with education, emboldened by the digital age, and rapidly gaining economic power, is just getting started.

Skipped all the above?

You actually need to know only one reason to get interested in Gen Z: it has an estimated spending power at over $143 billion. That’s 9 zeros, my friend.

Ok, I’m all ears; help me sell to Gen Z!

  1. Digital Presence

In the digital dominion, Generation Z reigns supreme. These youthful consumers, born in an era of ubiquitous connectivity, are more at home in the online world than any preceding generation. Digital fluency isn’t a learned skill for them—it’s an inherent part of their DNA.

Nestled in the heart of this vibrant digital culture, Gen Z’s day-to-day life is an online adventure. This digitally-immersed cohort is drawn to the dazzling allure of social media platforms. Indeed, a stunning 64% of Gen Zs are rendezvousing with Instagram on a daily basis, their thumbs deftly exploring the latest stories, reels, and posts.

With 74% of Gen Z choosing to spend their precious free moments surfing the online world, it’s no surprise that their discovery of new brands is often facilitated by the virtual landscape. Scrolling, clicking, and swiping have replaced the more traditional forms of brand engagement, ushering in a revolution in consumer habits.

The magnetic pull of social media goes beyond mere brand discovery. It’s a powerful channel for purchases too. An illuminating survey reveals that nearly 80% of Gen Z and millennial shoppers have succumbed to the allure of products parading in their social media feeds, their digital baskets brimming with these newfound treasures.

It’s crystal clear that for businesses looking to engage with Gen Z consumers, a strong digital presence isn’t just desirable—it’s indispensable. The social media stage is where brands need to shine, fostering dynamic interactions with the Gen Z audience. After all, to captivate Generation Z, companies must meet them where they live – in the fast-paced, ever-evolving world of the internet.

Fun fact: 91% of Gen Z users go to bed with smartphones.

  1. Authenticity and Transparency

Generation Z: A generation that is as tech-savvy as they come, and one that stands strongly for authenticity and transparency. Their mantra is clear: they yearn for brands that bare their souls, open the doors to behind-the-scenes operations, and bear the responsibility of their actions unflinchingly.

A stark warning is painted by data from Forrester’s Technographics. Approximately one in three Gen Zs regularly tidies up their social media feeds, severing ties with brands that fail to meet their stringent authenticity standards. “Gen Zers don’t hesitate to cancel brands when they sense a shallow veneer,” it warns, and the message rings clear – authenticity is non-negotiable.

In 2022, a Forbes story chimed with this sentiment, echoing that Gen Z is driven by a brand’s tangible impact on the world when making purchasing decisions. They have a discerning eye for ethical manufacturing, fair treatment of employees, eco-friendly initiatives, and the footprint of sustainability left by brands. It’s not just about the product – it’s about the whole package.

However, Gen Z’s complex relationship with advertising is a terrain to tread carefully. As per Gen Z statistics, a significant 69% consider ads as unwelcome intruders, disrupting their online journeys. This calls for brands to rethink their advertising strategies, ensuring they enhance rather than interrupt the user experience.

Gen Z consumers aren’t just buying products or services. They’re aligning with the brand ethos, throwing their weight behind those brands that resonate with their personal values and beliefs. To win their hearts, brands must not only talk the talk but walk the walk, exhibiting an authentic, transparent, and responsible approach in their operations and societal contributions.

Fun fact: In May 2022, discounts were found to be the number one reason motivating Gen Z consumers to engage with a new brand on social media. So, if all else fails, have a sale.

  1. Social Consciousness

Generation Z is a shining beacon of social consciousness in today’s world, fervently championing the causes closest to their hearts such as climate change, social justice, and equality. They aren’t just mouthing platitudes; they’re putting their money where their values are.

Deloitte’s Global 2022 Millennials and Gen Z Survey lends credence to this claim, revealing that a significant 64% of Gen Z individuals willingly reach deeper into their pockets for sustainable alternatives. It’s quality over quantity, sustainability over savings, with only 36% succumbing to the allure of cheaper, less sustainable options.

When asked to articulate their concerns over an array of social issues, climate change topped the chart with a staggering 44% of Gen Z expressing worry. Hot on its heels were racism (43%), gun violence (41%), police brutality (40%), and pollution (38%). These figures are more than just numbers; they’re a testament to a generation determined to make the world a better place.

Gen Z’s commitment to sustainability permeates their lifestyle choices. A resounding 71% have embraced the pre-owned clothing trend, and 61% are regular recyclers. Additionally, 57% hold firm to the belief that supporting environmentally-conscious brands is paramount.

A glance at the racial and cultural composition of American Gen Z paints an equally interesting picture. As of 2019, 52% of Gen Z individuals in America were non-Hispanic white, a figure poised to dip below 50% in the next four years due to ongoing immigration. Reflecting the growing diversity, 22% of American Gen Zs boast at least one immigrant parent, further enriching the cultural fabric of the nation.

Gen Z’s preference for socially responsible brands makes them a crucial audience for any brand wishing to make a positive impact on society. These young individuals have transformed consumerism from a passive act to a powerful statement of belief. Gen Z has unequivocally shown that they aren’t just spectators in the world’s arena; they’re active players striving to tip the scales towards a more sustainable, inclusive, and equitable future.

Fun fact: Gen Z shoppers value excellent customer service – they are 60% more likely than any other generation to hang up the phone if a business doesn’t answer in 45 seconds.

  1. Personalization

For Generation Z consumers, personalization is not just a buzzword—it’s a need, a craving, a definitive expectation from their interactions with brands. They’re in pursuit of experiences that speak to them personally, reflecting their unique tastes, preferences, and lifestyles.

A considerable 64% of Gen Z consumers firmly believe that brands must go the extra mile to provide personalized experiences, a sentiment echoed by 72% of millennials. They’re seeking more than just a transactional relationship with brands; they’re yearning for a connection, a rapport that transforms the mundane into the meaningful.

This penchant for personalization shines through in Gen Z’s affinity for influencers, as detailed in a report by Morning Consult. Gen Z follows influencers not for mere celebrity admiration, but for their ability to deliver entertaining and intriguing content within a personal setting, akin to catching up with a friend.

To truly resonate with Gen Z, brands must understand and cater to their individual preferences and behaviors, whether it’s through content, products, or services. A one-size-fits-all approach simply won’t cut it for this discerning generation. Instead, they value brands that engage them with tailored experiences, turning the ordinary into the extraordinary and making them feel seen, heard, and valued.

In the ever-evolving landscape of consumer behavior, Gen Z is signaling a clear shift towards personalized engagement. For brands willing to listen and adapt, this presents an incredible opportunity to forge meaningful, lasting connections with this influential generation.

Fun fact:  Unsatisfied GenZers are 30% more likely to curse at a business over the phone, compared to the average customer.

  1. Quality and Value

Generation Z consumers are a fascinating blend of fiscal prudence and discerning taste. They are meticulous stewards of their financial resources, yet they never compromise on quality. Their economic footprint is marked by a unique confluence of price consciousness and a profound appreciation for excellence.

When it comes to pledging brand loyalty, product quality emerges as the crown jewel. A compelling 52.89% of Gen Zers are won over by superior product standards. In comparison, price claims the allegiance of a mere 19.56%. This pattern resonates with their millennial counterparts too, where 60.19% champion product quality and just 16.39% are primarily price-conscious.

Their reputation as thrifty spenders isn’t baseless. According to a Bloomberg report, Gen Z manages to squirrel away an impressive third of their income on average, signaling a generation that is not just earning but also diligently saving.

However, their penchant for saving doesn’t overshadow their readiness to shell out more for products that meet their high standards. Quality, sustainability, and ethical production are the triumvirate guiding their purchasing decisions. They are willing to invest more in products that align with these values, showcasing their willingness to blend economic wisdom with conscious consumerism.

In the grand narrative of consumer behavior, Gen Z consumers are the savvy spenders, unafraid to part with their pennies for products that merit the expenditure. They are a testament to the adage that value is not always dictated by price; sometimes, it’s about the quality, sustainability, and the ethical ethos a product represents.

Fun fact: A survey completed in the United States has revealed, Gen Z pet owners spent the most on their pets, $1,885 annually, on average. While millennials are the group that spent the second most on their pets, they represented the biggest share of pet owners in the US (32%).

  1. Convenience

Generation Z consumers are pioneers in the age of convenience, reveling in shopping experiences that are smooth, swift, and stripped of any hindrances. They have a keen eye for detail, placing a premium on features like user-friendly websites, speedy shipping, and straightforward return policies.

Imagine the Gen Z consumer as an explorer of the digital wilderness, quick to abandon a path that is treacherous or slow to traverse. This becomes starkly evident with over 60% of them ready to shun apps or websites that are challenging to navigate or sluggish in their loading speed.

Being the digital natives they are, Gen Z’s love for all things digital is well documented. Interestingly, this enthusiasm transcends mere browsing or shopping. A whopping 62% have reached out to brands online seeking information or assistance, proving that their digital interaction isn’t passive, but an active, curious engagement. Remarkably, as per Statista, a fun-loving 25% have even pinged brands on the internet just for the sheer joy of it!

However, the demands of Gen Z consumers come with a caveat. According to a report by TalkDesk, poor customer service is a quick way to fall out of their good books. Such lapses can erode trust and ultimately lead Gen Zers to discontinue their patronage of a brand.

In the bustling marketplace of today, Gen Z consumers serve as a reminder of the importance of convenience, interaction, and quality customer service. They expect an effortless journey from browsing to buying, peppered with engaging digital touchpoints and underpinned by top-tier customer service. Meeting these expectations isn’t just a pathway to their wallets—it’s the key to their hearts.

Fun fact: Generation Z is the most likely to have a Netflix subscription in the US. Nearly 70% stated that they subscribed to Netflix. To put this into perspective, only 39% of baby boomers were subscribers.

  1. Influencer Marketing

In the vibrant, dynamic landscape of Generation Z’s consumer behavior, one group holds immense sway – social media influencers. These online personalities, followed and admired by Gen Z, are not merely entertainers or trendsetters; they are trusted advisors, guiding Gen Z’s buying decisions with their endorsements and recommendations.

A substantial 46% of Gen Zers are ardent followers of at least ten influencers on social media, demonstrating the significant influence these online celebrities wield. For 24% of Gen Z women, influencers aren’t just entertainment – they’re their preferred compass for discovering new products to purchase.

Interestingly, Gen Z isn’t just passively consuming influencer content; they’re actively contributing to it. Over one-third of social media influencers belong to Gen Z, painting a vibrant picture of a generation that not only follows trends but sets them.

In this context, businesses have a golden opportunity to tap into the power of influencer marketing to captivate and engage Gen Z consumers. By collaborating with influencers who resonate with this generation, brands can seamlessly weave their stories into the Gen Z narrative, fostering connections that are authentic, engaging, and impactful.

As the lines between entertainment, commerce, and peer recommendations continue to blur in the digital age, influencers emerge as pivotal players. For brands seeking to win over the Gen Z consumer, riding the wave of influencer marketing may be the key to unlocking a world of untapped potential.

Fun fact: Recent surveys completed in the US revealed that 23% of Gen Z had one or more tattoos as of 2021. Of this 23%, 4% had only one while 19% had multiple tattoos. To put this into perspective, 41% of millennials had at least one tattoo, while 32% of Generation X had one or more.

  1. Interactive Experiences

In the realm of Generation Z’s consumer journey, the line between reality and digital space is increasingly blurring. For Gen Z, the one element that turns an ordinary shopping experience into an extraordinary one is interactivity. Brands that can offer rich, immersive experiences, especially through technologies like augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), hold a unique allure for this tech-savvy generation.

Consider the act of buying furniture – an undertaking traditionally associated with physical stores. However, the onset of 2022 saw a significant shift with over 90% of Gen Z participants expressing interest in using AR to visualize how a piece of furniture would fit into their homes. This suggests an enthusiastic embrace of digitization and a readiness to explore unconventional shopping avenues.

Adding another layer to Gen Z’s immersive digital experience is the captivating world of metaverse activities. According to a global survey conducted in early 2022, both Gen Z and millennials expressed a strong interest in this virtual realm. From socializing with friends and playing games to attending virtual concerts of their favorite musicians, nearly 40% of Gen Z participants indicated they’re game for these metaverse escapades.

However, this digital fascination doesn’t spell the end of physical retail for Gen Z. They still value the tactile, in-person shopping experience. But, as a Squarespace survey reveals, 60% of Gen Z believes that their online persona carries more weight than their physical presentation. In a striking testament to their digital inclination, almost 60% of Gen Zers admitted to having an easier time remembering the color of a website than the color of a person’s eyes!

In light of these trends, it’s paramount for businesses to establish a strong and well-designed online presence, one that harmoniously merges the boundaries of reality and virtual, and fosters interactive and memorable experiences. It’s clear that for Gen Z, it’s not just about what you sell, but also how you sell it. The brands that can offer a blend of real and virtual, interactive and engaging, are the ones that will truly capture Gen Z’s hearts and minds.

Fun fact: A survey completed in March 2022 revealed that only 15% of Gen Z participants identified as avid sports fans. To put this into perspective, 25% of millennials viewed themselves as avid sports fanatics, nearly double as many.

  1. Peer Reviews and Recommendations

Among Generation Z consumers, a significant part of the purchasing process unfolds not in the aisles of a store or the pages of an online catalog, but in the troves of reviews and ratings that they meticulously peruse. A collective belief runs deep within this savvy generation: trust in their peers’ experiences. They are significantly more likely to invest their money in a product or service if it has been vetted by their peers.

A striking 68% of Gen Z shoppers delve into at least three reviews before they make their initial purchase with their hard-earned money. They seek assurance in the wisdom of the crowd, the shared experiences of those who have trodden the path before them, turning to reviews as reliable compasses guiding their buying decisions.

Yet, their interaction with reviews is not a one-way street. About 70% of Gen Z consumers have contributed to this pool of shared wisdom by writing at least one review. They understand the importance of reviews in their buying decisions and are more than willing to aid their peers by sharing their own experiences.

In this context, businesses have a potent tool at their disposal to reach Gen Z consumers: satisfied customers. Encouraging customers who have had positive experiences to pen their reviews could prove highly beneficial. For Gen Z, these reviews aren’t just words on a page; they’re trusted recommendations, signposts pointing towards their next purchase. As the saying goes, ‘word of mouth’ is still one of the most powerful marketing tools, even if that word comes in the form of an online review.

Fun fact: 67% of Gen Z consumers believe fashionable design matters. That’s more than any other generation.

  1. Mobile-First Approach

When it comes to Generation Z consumers, the world spins not on an axis but around an object they carry in their pockets – their smartphones. This device, which functions as an entertainment hub, communication tool, knowledge repository, and shopping center, forms the very core of their daily routines.

According to recent Gen Z statistics, the popularity of smartphones is staggering – a whopping 75% of teenagers prefer these handheld devices over their desktop counterparts. It’s not just about the convenience of size; it’s the seamless integration into their lives that smartphones provide, enabling a variety of tasks to be accomplished with a few taps and swipes.

The degree to which Gen Zers are glued to their smartphones is quite striking. Over half of this generation – known colloquially as ‘zoomers’ – dedicate at least five hours a day to their devices. It’s as though their life unfolds in parallel with the smartphone screen, with each refresh and scroll marking a new episode.

Among these various smartphone activities, shopping holds a significant place. Indeed, 32% of Gen Z shoppers make their purchases and payments through their smartphones, turning traditional notions of shopping on their heads.

Given this shift, businesses need to respond proactively. It’s no longer enough to have an online presence; this presence needs to be mobile-friendly. Websites and online stores need to be tailored to suit the smartphone screen, ensuring seamless navigation and user experience. After all, in the world of Gen Z, smartphones aren’t just devices; they’re the new marketplace. And to thrive in this marketplace, businesses need to ensure they’re just a tap and swipe away.

Fun fact: Generation Z’s attention span is eight seconds. That’s how long they need to decide if something is worth their time.


Engaging with Gen Z might initially appear like running a marathon uphill, but is it really?

Sure, you need to master a few key tactics:

1. Refrain from hard selling.

2. Advocate for their passions.

3. Speak their digital dialect.

4. Connect with them on their preferred platforms.

However, Gen Z isn’t interested in a mere transactional interaction with a brand. They yearn for more. They seek partnership rather than patronage. They desire a bond, a mutual exchange rooted in authenticity and honesty. So, while it might seem challenging on the surface, engaging with Gen Z can be rewarding, invigorating, and even a little bit fun.


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