According to a new report from Forrester, marketers have to change their approach when trying to engage Generation Z.

The report, “How to Build Your Brand with Generation Z,” was written by Tracy Stokes, Luca S. Paderni and Alex Hayes. The authors based the report on data compiled from an online survey conducted between April and May of 2012 with 58,068 adults from the United States and 5,635 adults from Canada aged 18 to 88. Brands that were interviewed as part of the report are 55DSL, Coca-Cola,, Organic, Razorfish, The Beans Group and The Sound Research.

Who is Generation Z?

Generation Z is the group that were born from the early 1990’s to the 2000’s. They are the individuals who are defined as children of the “digital age.” As the report says, “The only world they know is a digital one – where they can connect anytime, anywhere and to anyone often via multiple devices.”

According to statistics from Forrester’s Technographics research, these individuals are constantly looking between two or more screens, are easily distracted, but often multitask. For example, when watching TV, 71 percent also visit social networking sites, 63 percent browse the web and 57 percent do homework.

Storytellers and marketers in this digital age will continue to face an increasingly complex environment with a higher bar for engaging an audience of consumers.” says Dr Carl Marci, CEO and Chief Scientist as Innerscope Research.

Digital marketers must work to build their company into a trusted brand, while making sure digital marketing campaigns have an instantaneous, but long standing impact. Marketers should also note that while those who fall under the Generation Z category are more easily distracted, they are likely to use more forms of communication, which gives companies the chance to try multi-device marketing strategies.

Online versus Offline

Being the "digital generation," Generation Z is more likely to look for information online as compared to other generations. While TV, print and radio is still mostly consumed in a traditional format, with television sets, portable and car radios, newspapers and magazines, Forrester says that this is starting to change as more and more people in Generation Z watch TV, listen to radio and browse news articles online. For example, they spend about four hours watching TV online, compared to about two hours in total for U.S adults.

Building Trust, Building a Relationship

Generation Z has grown to trust online media. They have always known that email exists, that everyone has a cell phone and that social media is more than just a way to network. Therefore, they are more likely to trust and embrace marketers who use these social channels. But in spite of an inclination to trust companies that are more social, there are a few key factors that marketers should take into consideration.

Transparency, authenticity, and accountability are a price of entry to connect with this generation,” says the report. “Many marketers and industry experts we spoke to commented on Gen Zers’ ability to see through insincere marketing fluff, due to their mastery of new tools and technologies, and quickly get to the truth.”

Therefore, marketers have to make sure that their brand is authentic, engaging and relevant to this generation by being as honest as possible with their targeted audience. The report suggests that marketers should look for an “intersection” where the brand values can connect with consumer values.

For example, Coca-Cola uses their “Shared Happiness” campaign which not only maintain the brand values of being a reputable soft drink, but also showcased the shared experiences of those who use the product. Marketers should also try to engage with customers as much as possible through different outlets: contests through instagram, being entered in a draw if you share a photo on Facebook, asking for feedback on an item.


In addition to this a company must improve customer relations. If a customer isn't satisfied with a product or company’s performance they aren't going to remain loyal to the brand. Even if they've used it for a while, they’re going to move on to the competition. Another recent study by Forrester looked into what tools help inspire customer loyalty, pinpointing many steps where companies can act -- this might be a good place to start to prevent customer churn.

Brand Demand

With this kind of turnover, a brand has to be constantly meeting certain expectations relating to value and quality when marketing to generation Z (and it might be a good idea to do this for other generations, too). 

More specifically, a brand must always be striving to be the “best of the best,” by being able to meet customer standards. As 25 percent of those surveyed said that owning the best brands is important to them and 62 percent said that when they find a brand they like they will stay with it.

Gen Zers gravitate to brands that are honest in their business practices, offer something new and exciting, and inspire their confidence,” says the report.

So, What Does This All Mean?

Overall, the report says that marketers have to realize there isn't a difference for Generation Z between the real and virtual world.

“Marketers must stop thinking in terms of offline and online, because for Gen Z, the real world is the digital,” said Shane Ginsberg, Senior Vice President of Corporate Development at Organic. “A digital companion is attached to every aspect of their world.”

It's no longer enough for a company to have a brand that's engaging, they must now connect through a variety of social channels, be honest and form positive, trusting relationships with their customers.