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How Brands Can Appeal to Gen Z Through Experience Marketing

  • March 03, 2022

Gen Z (Born 1997-2012) is entering the workforce, which means they’re earning and established brands are looking to draw them in. Growing up in an era dominated by mobile devices and social media, the “zoomers” have taken the baton as society’s culture makers from Millennials. That’s why it’s more important than ever that brands are open about their values and opinions on today’s social justice and environmental issues as an opportunity to bring awareness, but also remind loyal followers what their logo represents so the brand stays relevant through the 2020s.  

Authenticity, transparency, and community outreach are as important to Gen Z as product quality and designer brands. It takes a creative brand experience marketing campaign to demonstrate your fierce commitment to a cause in order to resonate with the youngest consumers in America. 

Characteristics of Generation Z Consumers

Every generation’s buying decisions are shaped by the world around them. For example, the 2008 Recession set the tone for lower wages and smaller budgets through the 2010s for Millennials, compounded by inflation caused by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The economy has been detrimental to the buying power of Millennials and led to the downfall of several industries.

Social justice movements like Black Lives Matter put a spotlight on systemic discrimination in US law enforcement. It mobilized a youthful multiethnic and multilingual nationwide movement towards a common goal of progressive policies and racial equality. 

In 2022, the deaths of Michael Brown, George Floyd, and other high-profile cases of police altercations resulting in the death of a minority have solidified Gen Z’s commitment towards racial equality and holding those in positions of power accountable.   

Indeed, Gen Z is the most socially-conscious generation, more so than even their Gen X and Millennial elders. Gen Z have also brought about a reckoning for some of the top brands. 

In the interconnected digital world where the youngest generation of consumers have spent most of their lives, perception and likeability are everything. 

Gen Z is a pessimistic generation that will not chime in on just any trending hashtag promoted in a paid social ad. For example, marketing your products in recycled packaging to bring awareness to climate change should go full-circle with the company’s commitment to more sustainable practices beyond a basic bottle recycling program – “carbon neutral” is the ideal for eco-initiatives.

Attracting Gen Z consumers to your brand may require long and expensive social media and influencer campaigns, but worth it because Gen Z is willing to pay more for brands that align with their values. It can also be difficult to earn brand loyalty and advocacy without consistently giving them a reason to do so.

To win Gen Z over, brands need to broadcast their values and have consistent messaging across all channels and mediums. 

Digital Natives are Most Comfortable in Virtual Interactions

Gen X and Millennials had to adopt groundbreaking new technology like the internet, smartphones, social media at different ages. For Gen Z, they’ve never experienced a world without social media and or “hanging up” the phone. They have had the world at their fingertips for their entire lives and have a generational comfortability with virtual experiences. 

Use that to your advantage and engage them through social media. Encourage consumers to share their videos and pictures on TikTok, Snapchat, and Instagram using the marketing campaign’s hashtag. Remember to follow up on comments and direct messages on social media with casual language, not corporate speak.


Gen Z Cares Less about Designers, More about Value Alignment

Environmentally-concious business practices, diverse companies, and mental health awareness resonate with Gen Z consumers. But they find it disingenuous when the brand’s messaging is broad and vague. 

Your target audience will have its own unique set of values, so do social listing to learn what matters to Gen Z the most. 

Real-World Interaction Requires Personalized Experiences

Generation Z consumers prefer quick help from a chatbot on their smartphone instead of talking to a brand representative face-to-face. While brands need to provide omnichannel messaging that meet customers where they prefer to interact, there is a time and a place for in-person interactions.

When your Gen-Z customer base interacts with your brand in the real world, they expect an attractive display and a memorable in-person experience when testing new games, trying new energy drinks, and other products. 

How to Use Experience Marketing to Attract Gen Z Customers

An experiential marketing campaign can be your brand’s solution to attracting first-time Gen Z customers. They love to feel included and connected; 91% of all consumers tend to have positive feelings about a brand after attending an event or branded experience. 

Other examples of experience-based marketing opportunities include pop-up shops, mobile tours, and live events that offer a special experience outside of what’s in reach every day. A helicopter ride and a Hampton’s brunch, a drive-in premiere for a socially-distanced live event, or a buzz-worthy exclusive beach party with influencers.

How to Plan an Experience Marketing Campaign to Attract Gen Z:

  • Start with messaging and imagery that is authentic to your brand
  • Add timely relevancy
  • Connect the campaign to your values
  • Create an opportunity for emotional connection
  • Add thought leadership and make it interesting
  • Choose a variety of activities that are a mix of physical and virtual
  • Create exclusivity
  • Target like-minded consumers
  • Document everything in HD-quality photography and videography, then share, share, share

NVE partnered with SPIN, to create a brand experience campaign that generated interest among like-minded consumers and city officials for their safe, reliable, and eco-friendly e-scooters. 

We began by finding an authentic connection to the brand’s key offering — an eco-friendly transportation alternative for life in the city. We chose a vibrant San Francisco neighborhood and crafted messaging around the scooter’s sustainable design that includes swappable batteries that keep scooters out of the landfill. With climate change a top concern for Gen Z, NVE was able to connect with consumers through a green alternative to commuting around the city.

We invited the public to give the scooters a try with test rides around the city and added branded touchpoints at every interaction. Guests were welcomed in a branded reception area, provided with a product demonstration, and a keynote by SPIN’s CEO on their sustainability mission. 

The SPIN brand experience was designed to provide a personalized experience that offers more than a retail window setup. The brand experience’s reach was then amplified by turning footage and photography captured during the event into engaging social content.

The key takeaways from the SPIN brand experience campaign:

  • Find innovative ways to engage with consumers and boost brand appeal
  • Be thorough in analyzing market research and go straight to the source instead of making assumptions about what they want or need
  • Combine the allure and exclusivity of live events with repurposed content for social media
  • Identify performance goals and track metrics in the same way you would for any other campaign
  • Create a diverse, cross-functional team to develop campaigns that involve the whole company. Marketing, public relations, human resources, sales, and operations should all be authentically integrated into experience marketing campaigns

What could be more aligned with Gen Z consumers than a launch party for Instagram’s IGTV? We learned the storytelling aspects of social media by building a theme centered around the platform’s top influencers. NVE took a San Francisco venue and built eight unique rooms themed to match the personal brands of different influencers. Then, we invited influencers to create content using these spaces to share with their audiences and generate buzz for the IGTV launch.

NVE is the leader in creating brand experience campaigns that drive awareness among Gen Z consumers. Contact NVE today to learn more about our experience marketing services