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How to Sell to Gen Z

Written by:

Tamara is a seasoned copywriter with a unique blend of legal expertise and business acumen, and a passion for writing.

Edited by:

Sallie, holding a Ph.D. from Walden University, is an experienced writing coach and editor with a background in marketing. She has served roles in corporate communications and taught at institutions like the University of Florida.

How to Sell to Gen Z

How to Sell to Gen Z

One demographic that’s been making waves and reshaping the business landscape is Generation Z. Born between the mid-1990s and early 2010s, these consumers grew up in the digital age, and they bring to the world a cadre of unique preferences, values, and expectations. 

If you’re like most marketers, the next generation of shoppers might have you a bit perplexed. These up-and-coming customer cohorts are said to have an estimated spending power of $143 billion across the US alone — yet you have no idea where to start when it comes to making sure your business is appealing to them. 

As entrepreneurs, understanding Gen Zers goes beyond a simple quest — it’s the key to entering a universe where sales mean more than transactions, and building meaningful connections is the ultimate rule.

Join us as we unveil the secrets of navigating this lively landscape. The playbook is as dynamic as the generation it seeks to engage when it comes to selling to Gen Z in the digital age because we must dive into a reality where authenticity is the new currency.

Understanding the Gen Z Mindset

The first step in successfully selling to Gen Z is understanding what makes them tick. 

This generation is characterized by a set of unique values and traits that set them apart from their predecessors — Millennials, Gen X, and baby boomers. According to the Edelman Trust Barometer, in 2022, 73% of Gen Z based their purchases on their values and brand activism. What this means is they quickly spotted marketing gimmicks, so, when speaking to them, businesses must be very transparent and authentic to reach this customer base.

Authenticity Matters

Gen Z has grown up in an information-saturated world, which makes them able to filter out noise and recognize brands with real messages. Unlike previous generations, Gen Zers don’t just want to buy products — they want to buy into a story. So, your brand story needs to resonate with their principles, and it needs to be legit.

For example, the success story of Buffer — a startup that embraced transparency in its operations — has resonated well with them.

Social Responsibility

As we all know, Gen Z is very passionate about social issues, and they expect the same from the brands they support. According to a study, 94% of Gen Z consumers believe companies should address social and environmental issues. And how do they expect or demand that businesses do this? By aligning themselves with social causes and being committed to making a positive impact on the world.

One notable example of a company that has gained a substantial following among Gen Zers by adopting sustainable and ethical practices is Patagonia. They’re all about reducing environmental impact and ensuring fair labor, which goes with the values that matter to Gen Z (and other environmentally conscious consumer groups).

Digital Platforms Are Your Ally

Growing up with smartphones and social media, Gen Z is the most digitally connected generation to date. They spend a large chunk of their time on the internet, so it’s only natural that digital engagement be a crucial aspect of any successful sales strategy targeting them.

Statistics from Truelist tell us that the average Gen Zer uses their phone for about 3.7 hours every day, mostly for social media. It would be a waste if businesses didn’t step up and accept the opportunity to engage with their audience directly on the platforms where they spend the most time.

The Power of Social Media

Visual-centric platforms like Instagram, TikTok, and Snapchat are among the favored platforms for Gen Z, providing an opportunity for businesses to showcase their products in creative and visually appealing ways.

According to Glossy, 60% of Gen Z discover new products through Instagram. That said, in order to pique the interest of this generation, the content must not be like traditional advertising. Instead, it should feel organic and align with their interests. Your best bet is to include various challenges, user-generated content, or interactive features. Creating such advertising content will encourage active participation and build a community around your brand.

Influencer Marketing

Gen Zers tend to trust influencers more than traditional celebs. However, not just any influencer will do. Remember that authenticity is the key, since 88% of Gen Z (and Millenial) individuals think that being genuine is a must. That means you must collaborate with influencers whose values seem to align with your particular brand values. Because such an alignment can boost your reach and credibility a great deal.

Drunk Elephant, for example, collaborated with beauty influencers to promote their new skincare line. The social media influencers created authentic reviews and tutorials, allowing potential customers to see real results and experiences. This, in turn, led to increased product awareness and inspired trust among the brand’s target audience.

Immersive Online Experiences

Gen Zers place a great value on experiences — and this extends to their online interactions, too. And what better way to create immersive experiences that captivate and engage the audience than by using augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) tech?

IKEA implemented AR features on their website that allow customers to see how a piece of furniture would look in their own space. Since humans are visual beings, making this feature available to would-be shoppers improves the overall shopping experience while reducing the uncertainty associated with purchasing furniture online.

If you jump on the train and embrace these digital strategies, you’re sure to drive your business right to the heart of where Gen Z lives and make meaningful connections along the way!

Crafting an Authentic Brand Story

In the previous sections, we’ve mentioned the trust that Gen Zers put in brands that tell compelling and authentic stories. Especially nowadays, when the digital landscape is brimming with spammy or generic ads. You can’t look at your brand story as just a marketing tool. Instead, you must see it as an opportunity to bond more closely with your audience.

Embrace Transparency

It can’t be overstated how much Gen Z values transparency and being open about every step of the journey your brand has been on. You have many creative ways to share the challenges you’ve overcome, the lessons you’ve learned, and the impact your business aims to make — whether it is through social media posts, online stories, videos, or a blog.

For example, a small-batch coffee roastery called Counter Culture Coffee warmed its way into the hearts of Gen Z customers by showcasing the journey of their coffee beans, from the farm to the cup, highlighting sustainable farming practices and fair trade partnerships.

Highlight Your Values

If your business intends to attract Generation Z, your brand’s values must be equal to theirs. It’s as simple as that. If your business is committed to sustainability, equality, or social justice, you will need to make sure these values are woven into the very fabric of your operations and not just written down on paper.

Aerie’s “AerieREAL” campaign, for instance, focuses on promoting realistic and unfiltered representations of individuals in their advertising, embracing body positivity, and encouraging customers to come as they are and to feel confident in their own skin. The brand also strives to completely eliminate the use of Photoshop in its marketing materials. No wonder they gained traction among young adults and Gen Zers who appreciate brands prioritizing authenticity and diversity in their messaging.

User-Generated Content

Aside from focusing on transparency and having the right values, when reaching out to Gen Z, you should also ask your customers to be a part of your brand narrative. This is easily done by incorporating user-generated content (reviews, testimonials, or other content featuring your products) into your marketing strategy.

One example is Peloton. It’s a fitness equipment retailer that focuses on stationary bikes and treadmills (hence the name), as well as an app with a bunch of workout classes. On their social media platforms (especially Instagram), customers are encouraged to share their workout routines using Peloton fitness equipment — and they hashtag them with #Peloton or other specific campaign hashtags. Talk about motivation!

This seems to be a superb way for a brand to create a connection that goes beyond transactional relationships in their quest to turn customers into brand advocates.

Optimizing Sales Management with CRM

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems are indispensable tools for understanding and meeting the needs of individual customers. For Gen Z, personalization is not just a bonus but an expectation.

The Power of Personalization

According to Insider Intelligence, 87% of Gen Zers are more likely to engage with a brand that personalizes their experience. And what does personalized experience mean in marketing? Well, it goes beyond just addressing the customers by their first name in promo emails. It also includes understanding customer preferences and purchase history and providing tailored recommendations based on those CRM insights. On top of that, it will ease the customers into upsells and repeat business.

Streamlining the Sales Process

CRM systems are not just for large enterprises— anyone can use them, small businesses included. From lead management to post-sale follow-ups, CRM systems can automate routine tasks. This, in turn, allows sales teams to focus on building relationships and closing deals.

Many startups and businesses, especially those in advisory services, use popular CRM platforms like Salesforce, HubSpot, or Zoho CRM to enhance customer relationship processes and move beyond one-size-fits-all approaches.

Lead Generation Strategies for Gen Z

Effective lead generation is the lifeblood of any successful sales strategy. For Gen Z, it’s all about capturing their attention in a world constantly vying for it.

1. Interactive Content

According to Squarespace, 92% of Gen Z consumers multitask and browse content while listening to music, eating, or talking on the phone. This means your content must be entertaining and interactive to capture their attention. Some ways to accomplish this include incorporating quizzes, polls, and interactive videos into your marketing mix.

Coursera, for instance, uses interactive quizzes in two ways. This company assesses the learning preferences of its audience and generates leads by offering personalized study tips and course recommendations based on quiz results.

2. User-Generated Content Contests

Sometimes, you don’t need to increase sales by attracting new customers. Instead, you can harness the power of your existing customer base to create a buzz around your brand. With some creativity, you can come up with user-generated content contests that will encourage your audience to become brand advocates.

Just look at GoPro. If you’re a Gen Zer (and even if you’re not), you’ve probably heard of their action cameras and accessories (maybe you even own one or two). But did you know the brand has successfully employed user-generated content to showcase the diverse ways its customers use their products?

GoPro’s hashtag campaign, often associated with #GoPro or specific product launches, invites users to share their adventures through action-packed photos and videos. The brand features the best submissions on its website, social media channels, and marketing materials. This clever marketing approach ensures a continuous flow of authentic and engaging user-generated content.

3. Personalized Outreach

As we’ve already established, Gen Z values authenticity, and we know that personalized outreach can set your brand apart from the competition. For this reason, your CRM system is your best friend here. It will help you save time and effort while gaining insights into your customer base by using technology to send targeted and personalized messages, automatically.

When it comes to personalizing recommendations, Amazon is the champ. Its sophisticated recommendation engine analyzes users’ search queries and browsing and purchase history to suggest products they might like — on the homepage, in emails, and all throughout the shopping experience. These recommendations often contribute to higher engagement, increased time spent on the platform, and improved sales conversion rates.

If you take advantage of the lead generation strategies we’ve listed above, you will greatly increase your chances of capturing the wandering eye of Gen Zers, which will enable you to build a pool of engaged leads who are interested in what your brand is made of.

Revolutionizing Customer Service

Exceptional customer service is the main ingredient of any successful business. If you want to cater to Gen Z, your customer support should resolve their issues and provide a top-notch personalized experience.

Chatbots for Instant Support

Having grown up in the age of instant messaging, Gen Z values quick and accessible communication. They just want to click on that support icon and get the answers ASAP, and chatbots integrated into your website and social media channels can provide just that.

IBM has done a great job of providing instant support with the development of a virtual assistant called the Watsonx Assistant, a “fast and friendly” conversational AI platform. This automated, self-service assistant is part of their broader IBM Watson platform, and no matter the industry, businesses can use it to create helpful chatbots.

IBM’s chatbot is designed to understand natural language queries and assist users with a wide range of tasks (including technical support and issue resolution). This platform makes it easier for users to find information, troubleshoot problems, and navigate technical issues.

Social Media as a Customer Service Channel

Gen Z doesn’t use social media just for some entertainment, to kill time waiting for a bus, or while in a long line at the grocery store. For them, social media is also a preferred channel for customer service. Eighty-seven percent Gen Z shops on social media, so businesses should utilize these platforms to interact with them while resolving any issues.

Zappos, a fashion retailer, is recognized for its strong presence on platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Shoppers have found their customer service agents to be super friendly and very prompt, often going beyond addressing specific issues and taking the opportunity to showcase the brand personality, and their commitment to ensuring customer satisfaction.

Personalized Loyalty Programs

Rewarding loyalty is a time-tested strategy, but Gen Z also expects a more personalized approach. The recipe for success in cultivating loyalty among these consumers is similar to utilizing personal recommendations. This means you should take seriously their buying behavior, including their individual preferences and purchase history, and tailor your loyalty programs accordingly.

Let’s take a look, for example, at Starbucks’ robust loyalty program called Starbucks Rewards. Through this program, customers earn stars for every purchase, and the company uses this data to create personalized offers — offering discounts on favorite drinks or incentives to try new items (and who doesn’t like some free or discounted Starbs?).

By custom-tailoring customer service using modern tools and technology, any business can personalize offerings and build strong bonds with Gen Z consumers, turning them into loyal advocates for their brands.

Final Thoughts on Selling to Gen Z

To be successful in selling to Gen Zers, you need to go beyond traditional forms of marketing. Many free digital platforms will allow you to express your creativity by offering interactive experiences and new ways for customers to explore your product or service. You can also partner with influencers — the voices that are driving change in the way modern sales are made. Also, don’t forget to gather valuable insights into your customers and their buying behavior. Using this information can help you define how to meet the needs of Gen Z customers with unique offers and updates.

Remember, Gen Z isn’t just about selling products. These consumers greatly value connection. So, tailor your marketing and advertising approaches in a way that will build strong relationships with these customers, to create long-lasting loyalty. At Making That Sale, we believe if you follow the steps we’ve presented to you in this article, when strategizing a sales plan for Gen Z, you will be set for success.


Do Gen Z consumers prefer specific social media platforms?

Yes, Gen Z consumers exhibit preferences for specific social media platforms. Instagram, TikTok, and Snapchat are among their current favorites, which makes them ideal channels for businesses to engage and connect with this demographic.

Are there specific challenges in selling to Gen Z in different regions or cultural contexts?

Yes, selling to Gen Z can present region-specific challenges due to cultural nuances. Consumer preferences, values, and online behaviors may vary across different regions. Adapting sales strategies to local contexts, understanding cultural sensitivities, and incorporating region-specific trends are essential for businesses seeking success in diverse markets and effectively connecting with Gen Z consumers worldwide.

Are there emerging trends or technologies that Gen Z values in their online shopping experience?

Certainly, Gen Z values several emerging trends and technologies in their online shopping experience. Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) applications that allow users to visualize products in real-life settings are gaining popularity. Additionally, interactive and personalized shopping experiences, such as chatbots for instant assistance and AI-driven product recommendations, are resonating well with Gen Z. Businesses that embrace these innovative technologies can enhance the overall online shopping experience for this tech-savvy demographic.