Marketing to Gen Z–Teens

Also in this series, marketing to Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Generation Y-Millennials

Generation Z

Marketing to Generation Z has been a little more difficult to pin down. First, there is really no consensus as to the age range of Generation Z. I’ve seen seen a wide range of dates given, starting any where from 1991-1998 through 2008-2011. This is because the demographic is still so young and are still forming their defining characteristics. For the purpose of this article, I’m going to use the dates 1994-2010, which means there are approximately 65 million Gen Z’ers in the United States.

It also means that there is some cross pollination of Gen Y-Millennials and Generation Z. The difference between Gen Y & Z is that Gen Y can remember what life was before the advent of our mass digital world, Gen Z does not.  Gen Z’ers are also sometimes referred to as “digital natives,” as they have never known life outside of our current digital world.

Their parents are mostly Gen X’ers, which means their parents are generally older (average age of 1st time Gen X mom is 31) and more likely to be divorced. Gen X is the most divorced generation. 22% of Gen Z’ers under age 15 live in a single parent household.

In this article, I will focus primarily on teens.

What Gen Z Likes

The Internet: 73% of teens 12-17 use the internet. But while their older Millennial cousins like blogs, Gen Z prefer social media.

Sharing on Social Networks: They have higher than the average number of friends on social networks and they like to share with those networks. 93% have created or shared content online.

Online Shopping: Nearly half of all teens have purchased something online.

Mobile Video: Gen Z teens watch twice as much mobile video as other mobile viewers.

Mobile Phones: 75% of teens 15-17 have mobile phones

Texting: It’s the preferred method by which they communicate with each other. Teens send and receive an average of 3330 texts per month. That’s more than six texts each waking hour. It’s also more than double any other age group. Text messaging is the number one use of a cell phone by teens.

The Marketing Spot

How to Market to Generation Z

It seems to be a pretty straightforward marketing equation:
Text + Mobile Video + Sharing

Invite teens to opt in to a text marketing program. Create interesting mobile video content for teens. Send them links to this mobile video. Provide an option to share this mobile video with their friends. Occasionally text them offers, invites and discount codes that they can also share with their friends via text and social media.

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This is an interesting article on the uses of Gen Z. They have so much technology at their disposal and marketers need to find a way to capture their limited attention spans using technology. The trick is going to be making this not intrusive to their already busy lives.


I find it fascinating to research and learn about the "next" generation. I've been in sales and marketing since 1994 in Student Housing and have seen the changes between Gen X, Gen Y, Millennials and soon Gen Z. Being Gen X myself, Gen Y and Millennials have for sure changed the game in the world of differences among our generations.

In research I have done I have also read the phrase "Post" Generation along with Gen Z. Not sure if they have confirmed the true name yet, but either way quite interesting to see just how different they will be from their distant cousins the Millennials. Here are some other interesting results I have found about this up and coming demographic. I could not agree with you more on the focus in marketing to today's teens. Text+Mobile Video+Sharing= getting their attention. Not only do they understand it...they expect it! Great article Jay.

Post-Millennial. Post-9/11. Post-Columbine. Post-Obama

They describe growing up after so many seismic social and technological shifts.

They also describe their desire to leave tiny artifacts of their presence in virtual space, in the form of "posts." rather than physical artifacts.

They believe equality is a given, not something one needs to fight for.

They will be more diverse than any previous generation, with the concept of minority fading.

Concept of “ownership” will grow still more fuzzy, as ~all bits-based assets (music, movies, etc.) live in the cloud

This generations parents will play the authoritarian role their Boomer parents didn't. This generations parents understand and know how to use technology!

A Millennial grew up playing on Leapster where the next generation will grow up with an Ipod Touch and Ipad as a toy.

JayEhret moderator

@kimcoryfitness Great additions to this post Kim. Thank you for the observations from the front line. As far as what the Gen Z will be called, that's for sociologists to determine, and hopefully soon. I saw some references to Generation Next and Digital Natives.

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