Cracking the Code: Understanding Gen Z and Their Marketing Preferences

Sep 26, 2023

By Haylee Benson

Generation Z, the largest, most multicultural generation in American history, is grabbing the reins on a fast growing society. Gen Z is defined as anyone born between the years 1997 and 2012, and this particular generation makes up about 27% of the US population

As KPItarget’s intern and resident Gen Zer, I get to see first hand how much my generation is changing marketing strategy. Growing up in the digital age, I have seen how Gen Z is influencing online marketing, social media advertising, cause-marketing, and mobile-first marketing. Here are just a few ways my generation is already impacting the marketing industry. 

What “Digital Natives” Want

Born into technology, Gen Z is typically referred to as “digital natives” as this generation is more comfortable and fluent with technology compared to previous generations. As a result, Gen Zers expect immediate access to information, seamless experiences, and quick responses — all of which influence their behavior and preferances. 

All in on Chatbots

For example, Gen Zers have a unique relationship with chatbots which provide comfort, convenience, and quick engagement experiences with technology. Chatbots provide a 24/7 access to information and services, aligning with Gen Z’s preferences for instant solutions to their problems. Messaging is a preferred channel of communication for Gen Z, and chatbots integrate with apps to create a  natural and familiar way to interact with brands and services. 

Authenticity and Self-Expression

Gen Z seeks authenticity and self-expression both online and offline. In marketing terms, user generated content sways Gen Z consumers the most. My generation wants to see real consumers interacting with products, and they prefer brands that share their values. When considering using a product or service as a Gen Zer, consider the following questions: 

  • What problem does this solve? 
  • Is the product/service sustainable or ethical? 
  • Does it add value to my life? 
  • Will it help achieve my goals?

Example: Inclusive Beauty With a Conscience

Fenty Beauty is one particular brand that I believe resonates well with Gen Zers due to its inclusive shade range and representation of beauty standards. We appreciate that Fenty makes a point to include diverse models and that the brand feels very “real.” 

Rihanna Fenty, the founder of Fenty Beauty, is seen as an authentic figure in pop culture, and she’s especially known for empowering women and all genders to feel at home in the cosmetic industry. Her involvement in the brand’s creation and promotion lends credibility and relatability to Fenty Beauty. Fenty Beauty has also raised ethical considerations around their products and services, including environmental concerns and responsible consumerism.

Social Media Is In, Google Is Out

Discerning Gen Z customers want to know the full details of products or services before they make a purchase. We can see the influence of Gen Z particularly through social media platforms, including the largest: TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube.


For example, Gen Z no longer turns to Google for purchasing or review needs when they can simply watch videos on TikTok giving authentic product reviews and what to expect before purchasing. TikTok videos allow Gen Zers to get a genuine feel for a product in just a few seconds. Also, when something becomes a trend on TikTok, it can quickly influence purchase decisions within Gen Z. 


In comparison, Instagram allows brands to share behind-the-scenes content, giving Gen Z customers a glimpse into the company’s values, production process, and culture. Gen Z feels more connected and engaged when they can interact directly with brands, and Instagram stories can provide live-feed real engagement for their potential product consumers. 


YouTube provides a diverse perspective when it comes to brands marketing their products. In-depth reviews, tutorials, and how-tos are all great ways that You-Tube creates educational content regarding how brands showcase how their products can be used by addressing potential customer questions and concerns.

As a Gen Zer, YouTube is one of my personal favorite social media platforms because each influencer can extend the features and benefits of the product they are presenting through detailed demonstrations, personal anecdotes, and my generation’s desire for thorough information and authenticity in product evaluations. 

Personalization is Paramount

We also seek convenience and hyper-personalization above all else. Convenience saves time and effort which is important for the fast-paced life of a Gen Z individual. B2C brands can use data-driven insights to offer personalized product recommendations, tailored content, and customized shopping experiences. This makes each interaction I have with a brand’s product or service more relevant and engaging. 

Everyone can appreciate content and recommendations that are highly relevant to their own interests. Personalized brand marketing allows for hyper-targeted content. Due to the major diversity of Gen Z, this ability to target a wide array of people and preferences is paramount. 

Hyper-targeting allows brands to tailor content to different segments, ensuring that each subgroup sees content that resonates with their specific interests. Going forward, personalization will be imperative for brands to win favor for their products and services over the long run. 

Adapting to Gen Z’s Values

As a Gen Z individual, I can appreciate how brands are adapting to our values and behaviors in the marketing industry, providing us with more meaningful and personalized experiences. It’s clear that Gen Z is sculpting the landscape for brands to push for authenticity, transparency, and hyper-personalization. 

How can your brand adapt to meet the expectations of this influential generation?