Generation Z is among the most numerous, with over two billion members globally. They also represent 30% of the US population and 20% of Australia’s. And they have a growing purchasing power, although not as massive as the Baby Boomers did. But to attract Zoomers to your products, you must understand how they think, act, and shop. That’s what this article will help you do. First, we will analyze the particularities of Gen Z and how to leverage them in TikTok marketing. Next, we will discuss strategies you can use on this social media channel, with plenty of examples to inspire – and exciting case studies.
Keep reading below.
Table of contents
Gen Z Particularities and How to Leverage Them in TikTok Marketing
Gen Z has specific particularities that you must leverage in two directions:
- For TikTok, given that this is the social media channel we’re talking about in this article
- For e-commerce products, which is what you’re selling
Let’s see how Zoomers think and behave first to discuss ways of using that information in the next section.
Gen Z buys from brands that support their values and causes:
- Currently, Gen Z is interested in ecology, social justice, and self-expression. These ethical shoppers are digitally savvy and social media activists. Plus, 51% of Gen Z shoppers want to purchase from brands whose social corporate responsibility aligns with their own.
- Zoomers want to stand out and be included in their community. The brands they buy recognize this need and cater to it through their products/services and communication. Zoomers need customized interactions and products, plus a very engaged brand community where they can express themselves and interact with their peers.
Gen Z engages with products and advertising differently than older generations:
- Zoomers are famous for avoiding traditional ads, much like their Millennial counterparts. That’s why Gen Z shoppers base their purchase decisions mainly on UGC and influencer marketing. Besides, 45% of Zoomers want to receive product recommendations when shopping online.
- Zoomers want to help brands market to them. 67% of shoppers in this age group are more likely to buy from brands that ask for their input on marketing-related issues.
- Gen Z uses TikTok instead of Google as a search engine. These young people search for products and businesses on TikTok but also read other customers’ comments, engage with the brand, ask questions, and come up with solutions.
- Zoomers value access to products versus possession. That means they prefer to use Uber over owning a car, renting over buying a house, and using a Netflix subscription over getting cable.
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Zoomers are interested in the practical side of their purchases, not just the ethereal values or social responsibility:
- Research shows that Zoomers are very pragmatic and financially savvy. That means you need specific offers/benefits to catch their attention, including discounts or personalized recommendations. It’s also why about one-third of Gen Z shoppers are interested in shopping for resale.
- Zoomers have a short attention span of 8 seconds. You must catch their interest within the first few seconds, offering a clear benefit from the get-go.
- This generation is highly educated and politically progressive. Zoomers won’t hesitate to question your products or communication if they find anything questionable. You also need to approach them with arguments and plenty of resources that prove your products can meet their needs. The dynamic approach doesn’t work with Gen Z unless facts support it.
Gen Z craves a unique shopping experience:
- Zoomers are tech-oriented digital natives. Therefore, they use apps to purchase products, get discounts/rewards, and save their hard-earned money; 70% of US Zoomers use in-store shopping reward apps and savings apps.
- Zoomers need a customized shopping experience. They prefer brands that speak to them directly and apps that help them try products. They also tend to purchase more from brands that create a pleasant post-purchase experience.
- Zoomers want to try products. That’s why 51% of this generation’s members worldwide prefer the in-store shopping experience for specific brands. Conversely, over 90% of Gen Z shoppers want to see and test their products using Augmented Reality (AR).
How to Attract Gen Z on TikTok
Now that you know how this generation thinks and shops let’s see how you can attract Gen Z on TikTok specifically.
1. Connect Your Brand With a Cause or Value
TikTok is a highly visual channel, which means:
- It can elicit emotions more quickly than a channel relying on written text (e.g., Twitter).
- It can better combine that emotion with arguments than a channel that mainly relies on photos (e.g., Instagram or Snapchat).
That specific combination of emotion plus reason is the best lever for creating trends and militating for causes.
So TikTok is an excellent channel to use if your particular strategy is:
- Persuading Gen Z shoppers to purchase your products because that would support a common cause
- Creating awareness of your products by stating your values and differentiating yourself from your competitors
For example, in the clip below, REI uses an inspiring ad to promote its new collection, simultaneously underlining its two core values:
- Freedom, and:
Notice the slew of diverse individuals featured in this ad regarding age, gender, and size, but they all have one thing in common: wearing REI.
2. Tap Into UGC
Zoomers dislike being tricked by companies. They want to eliminate post-purchase regret and are attracted by authentic content.
Therefore, Gen Z members use TikTok to search for products, see how they work, and engage with other shoppers to ensure they make the right choice.
That’s why they need user-generated content (UGC) in the form of testimonial videos or TikTok ads based on real people’s reviews.
Pro tip: You can also use UGC-like ads like the one below.
This video by Tabs Chocolate is an excellent example because:
- It’s seven seconds long, meaning that it delivers the message quickly.
- It looks like UGC, with the kid (or young adult) receiving chocolate from his parents on his birthday.
- There’s a twist, which many people don’t get at first. Therefore, they have to watch the clip again to understand that twist (the key is reading the ingredients to understand the kid’s plight). They may also browse the comments, thus increasing product recall.
- As a result of the point above, people watching this also get an immediate reward when they finally understand the message.
- It uses a sequence of three emojis that Gen Z will immediately connect to eggplant, water drops, and peach.
3. Use Influencer-Generated Content
Influencer-generated content from credible content creators who have built their expertise in a particular niche is an effective TikTok marketing strategy.
Since Gen Z relates to UGC and influencer marketing more than traditional advertising, you can partner with TikTok content creators. These influencers can create both UGC if you’re using a product seeding strategy or sponsored content following a more rigid brief.
- You must choose someone with a highly engaged audience, not an influencer who purchases fake followers.
- You also want to ensure that the content creator fits your values and produces the correct content for your needs.
CeraVe offers an excellent example because it regularly partners with specialists in the fields of beauty, cosmetics, and dermatology to market its products:
These content creators are credible experts who offer relevant advice. Besides, they always speak from their personal experience, thus creating a sense of authenticity and connection.
Also, notice the #CeraVePartner, #dermdoctor, and #skincare hashtags that improve the brand’s SEO.
Pro tip: Consider a TikTok marketing agency that can connect you with the best-vetted TikTok influencers. That’s how you can avoid being duped by disingenuous people or spending money on a strategy that doesn’t bring results.
4. Leverage Hashtags and SEO
Using hashtags and TikTok SEO is a good idea because Zoomers use TikTok as a search engine for their products instead of Google.
That means they will:
- Use the exact keywords to get suggestions. Yes, Zoomers know precisely which words and hashtags to use to get the right products.
- Look for specific products and hashtags to train TikTok’s algorithm. Being so digitally savvy, Zoomers have accepted that social media channels and companies use their data. So, these people leverage the same algorithm to get the recommendations they need.
- Be more interested in relevant, visual content. As explained in the previous section, 45% of Zoomers need specific product recommendations when shopping online. But they’re also financially-minded and educated, so you need to create relevant, insightful, and in-depth content. And, if you think of it, that’s the backbone of SEO, to begin with.
This TikTok clip below ticks multiple boxes because:
- It’s a relevant, in-depth video made by a Zoomer sharing factual and personal information about a product (menstrual underwear, in this case).
- It uses influencer marketing, which is very credible for Gen Z members. Notice how this influencer starts with a highly personal disclosure about the shape of her cervix and the menstrual products she can use.
- It addresses and solves some poignant problems for Zoomers (e.g., environmental protection, inclusivity, and gender equality).
- It uses relevant hashtags, making the video easy to find by anyone who searches for period underwear or reviews of such products.
All those points also leverage SEO best practices.
5. Build a Community
Zoomers need a community to thrive for three main reasons:
- They want to engage with others who support their views and use the same products/ brands.
- This community helps them learn tips and tricks about the products they use.
- Like an extended family, the brand community allows them to express their unique side.
So how can you leverage TikTok to build that kind of community around your brand/products?
- Create your unique personality. Show off your values and struggles with behind-the-scene type clips, ask for advice from Gen Zers, and show your leaders’ or employees’ personal stories. Allow your followers to connect with you and share their experiences; however, make sure your products/brand is always at the center of these experiences, uniting them, giving meaning, and offering solutions.
Walmart is already leveraging that strategy on its account. One of their employees has already become Internet-famous, with 5.1 million TikTok followers to date:
- Create or join trends. Trends help create that community by leveraging specific elements that societies are based on, like language, symbols, beliefs, and legends. Besides, trends differentiate insiders from outsiders, rewarding those who follow the flow.
- Contests and challenges. Competitions and challenges allow Zoomers to:
- Create their TikTok clips, thus showing off their creativity and uniqueness
- Interact with their peers
- Get rewards that trigger dopamine releases; ultimately, they will associate your brand and products with these rewards, strengthening brand recall and loyalty.
Mucinex, an over-the-counter cold and flu medicine, isn’t a very sexy product. However, they used a fun challenge to raise Gen Z’s awareness over one of their newest products and create a community.
Mucinex asked people to copy their quirky dance for a chance to win the daily $1,000 prize or VIP experience:
The #BeatTheZombieFunk branded challenge had these excellent results:
- 5.8 billion video views
- 60.4% increase in ad recall
- Over 500,000 user-generated videos
6. Disseminate Targeted Messages
Targeted messages are essential for Generation Z members because these people:
- Have short attention spans
- Aren’t tricked by marketing glam
- Need relevant information
So your TikToks must be short, catchy, relevant, powerful, and customized.
But you can take inspiration from what Washington Post is doing on its page. This highly regarded newspaper shows its fun side on TikTok, using the correct lingo, memes, and topics:
Remember: Finish up with a strong CTA and ensure your products are just one or two clicks away. After viewing these targeted messages, your Gen Z shoppers may be eager to buy from your company.
So help them by tagging your products or offering visible links to your product pages.
7. Customize Your Communication and Products
Customization is primordial for Gen Z in terms of communication and products. Here’s how you can do it:
7.1. Use TikTok to create personalized messages:
- Respond to comments. Don’t just use generic phrases or smileys; make sure you can connect with your Gen Z shoppers, offering relevant insights or suggestions so they can purchase the needed products.
- Use takeovers. Show Zoomers they have a say in your brand’s communication and production. You can allow a specific person to take over your account following a contest OR organize an event with a Gen Z influencer.
- Give credit where credit is due. Mention your Gen Z shoppers by sharing their posts (especially when using your brand). This strategy will also help you create more UGC to convince other prospects to buy from you while rewarding your existing customers.
7.2. Use TikTok AR
This feature allows people to try on your products or see how they would look. AR can create a customized shopping experience, and just like we mentioned in the previous section, 90% of Gen Z shoppers are interested in this feature.
Here’s what L’Oreal is doing to show users what their hair would look like with the newest Colorista Gold Rose hair color:
7.3. Use TikTok Shops
Create a shop on TikTok and sell directly on this channel. Why is this better than simply linking to your product pages? If you can create a customized experience on TikTok, you want to keep that bond. So, selling on the platform where the connection was made ensures more people will purchase your products. Otherwise, sending people to your product pages means some customers will slip through the crack, getting distracted or losing interest.
8. Use Rewards
We already explained that Gen Z members are financially minded and educated, so they need rational arguments to purchase your products.
Rewards like discounts or prizes within a contest-based campaign can convince them because:
- They make a discounted purchase more worthwhile.
- They lead to recognition from other TikTok users.
Pro tip: Discount codes also help you monitor and measure your campaign results.
For example, if you use TikTok influencer marketing, your content creators get a discount code. At the end of the campaign, you can count the sales brought by each influencer and draw your conclusions.
TheraIce, for example, applies this strategy with all its influencers:
Pro tip: Rewards also work because Zoomers have short attention spans, meaning they need regular dopamine to stay motivated and engaged.
Other types of rewards include:
- Asking for their input and using that
- Giving recognition
- Fun challenges
- Access to unique content or products before being mass released
Weighing Your Options
This article discussed the particularities of Gen Z and how you can use that to market your e-commerce products more effectively on TikTok. But with so many strategies to consider, remember to stay true to your business goals and values. Also, always try to understand your audience before planning your campaign. The Z generation has a high purchasing power today, so they’re worth your attention.
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About the author: David Morneau is the co-founder and CEO of an inBeat agency that helps brands scale their marketing efforts. He has helped over 200 DTC brands to date.