November 4 2020

App Annie, the world’s leading provider of mobile data, has released an interesting report on the new growing generation of users – Generation Z, or centennials. Earlier all advertising and analytical efforts were directed to millennials. But today, it makes sense to closely consider young consumers between 16 and 22 years old, whose consumer opportunities are estimated at tens of billions of dollars a year.

Who Are Generation Z?

Unlike millennials, who are called digital pioneers, the younger generation Z are those who’s been online since their birth. They have their own values, a radically different world view, and a different attitude to problems. The characteristic features that unite the “zoomers” are as follows:

  • born between 2000 to 2012;
  • are well versed in digital technology;
  • have been using computers and smartphones since childhood;
  • are actively present on social media;
  • communicate mainly online;
  • strive to enjoy what they are doing;
  • crave for continuous self-education;
  • limited in finances, many are inclined to save;
  • make savings, rational;
  • rarely buy expensive, over-advertised products;
  • have a bad attitude to the pressure and information noise generated by ads;
  • refuse loans and other financial obligations to banks;
  • love socially responsible brands.

Most of the generation is still studying in schools, colleges, and universities. But some of them have already entered the labor market, ready to spend money on new experiences and impressions.

Why Should You Pay Attention to Gen Z?

Most marketers agree that being in one of the generations (X, Y, or Z) affects consumer behavior. Each group responds to different marketing strategies, reads specific content, and requires a different approach. Generational marketing helps achieve versatility, making it possible to quickly respond to needs and meet the interests of various audience segments.

Generation Z makes up one-third of the world’s population. Exactly this group of consumers will soon be setting the tone for fashion and influence trends. Therefore, app developers must prepare for the zoomers’ rush now, while the generation is just forming as future employees and customers.

Some companies are perplexed – why sell to teenagers if this is an insolvent audience? There are some compelling arguments:

  • Many Gen Zers start earning money in their teens.
  • Some of the “zoomers” are already present in the labor market.
  • Brands need to build relationships with future audiences ahead of time, gradually adapting products, processes, and customer interactions.
  • On average, each “zoomer” got their first mobile device at 10 years old, and 98% of Gen Z members have a mobile device. They did not hear the crackling sound of a dial-up modem but grew up in the world of 4G and apps. Therefore, Gen Zers highly value quick access to the resources they need (e.g. Uber, Spotify).
  • Gen Zers are involved in mobile apps deeper than other generations. They spend an average of 3.7 hours a month on one non-gaming app.
  • The 16-22-year-olds already spend about $44 billion a year and influence spending of another $600 billion. And with the growth of their consumer capabilities, their influence on user habits grows as well.

Companies that will be able to adapt to the current market requirements and effectively interact with young people will become market leaders in the future.

7 Strategies to Acquire Generation Z as App Users

So how to sell a product to demanding, selective, pragmatic, and often resource-limited buyers? Let’s take a look at some strategies that can help you approach Gen Z  when promoting your mobile app.

Strategy #1: Visual storytelling

One of the greatest things that a zoomer values is experience. Introduce consumers to your company through heartfelt and honest stories, which bring a brand or product to life with words and pictures. Use photos, illustrations, animation, infographics, and videos. Hybrid formats such as games, flash mobs, video conferencing, series of dynamic and static images are also efficient. Do not be afraid to show the company’s behind the scenes, talk about the ideology and philosophy of the brand, about employees, and the experience of other customers.

Video content prevails in the information field of centennials, as it conveys more information than photos. The main trend in video content is sincerity and naturalness. Young people are tired of glossy, Facetune processed pictures, so they appreciate the emotional component in the video, dynamic editing, or the effect of amateur filming.

  • Integration of augmented reality. In the last couple of years, Instagram Stories have taken over the AR filters or masks. For example, Gucci masks with wigs and black lip makeup have caused quite a stir around the brand’s new collection.
  • Effect of the 90s (“old film”) and amateur photography. The old school Instagram videos of the French brand Rouje look like the 90s movies filmed with an amateur camera. The models behave naturally and smile at the audience.
  • Emotional impact. Centennials value emotions rather than material things. Unlike previous generations, they are more sensitive and receptive to honest emotions. For example, Gucci shot a video in which the action takes place on the ruins of an ancient temple. In the video, representatives of different subcultures spend time together, experience common emotions, and discuss issues that concern them. The brand has allowed itself to place the horizontal video vertically in order to attract attention – it is impossible to take your eyes off.
  • Maximum level of sincerity. Gen Z does not forgive deception. You are either honest with them or you have lost. For instance, Farfetch, the fashion retail platform, filmed emotional video sketches with honest, sincere statements from people about what inspires them. Such videos show the viewer that clothing is a way of expression and a way of life.

Strategy #2: Social media

Social media are the main “habitat” of zoomers. Here they spend at least one-third of their total time online. So if your app still does not have a social media account, e.g. Instagram or Facebook, you need to create it in order to reach out to the younger audience. Start maintaining company pages on social media and encourage your audience to subscribe to brand communities in the following way:

  • publish interesting posts regularly;
  • post stories and motivational viral videos;
  • publish news related to your brand;
  • organize contests where buyers can share their experience of using the app;
  • engage in dialog through gamification, polls, promotions;
  • ask customers to share their impressions and leave reviews about the app in exchange for small bonuses, discounts, or gifts.

Personalize the brand, convey its values ​​and principles of work through social media. Be involved in positive changes, integrate into the consumer environment, support a pronounced social motive in the behavior of the zoomers. If possible, delve into the topics of charity, ecology, and spiritual growth. By identifying themselves with brands, teens tend to choose products from specific brands. To do this, the company must be associated with views that are close to the audience.

Each social media platform needs an individual approach: informative posts for Facebook, demonstration of ambitions for Instagram, fresh and relevant news for Twitter, creative manifestations for TikTok.

Read more about How to Promote Your Mobile App or Game on Social Media

Example: In 2018, Amazon partnered with Snapchat in the following way. The users point their Snapchat camera at any physical product or barcode and are then redirected to an Amazon pop-up card for that product. According to statistics, Snapchat is popular mostly with young people between 18 and 24 years old. Therefore, this partnership is clearly targeted at Gen Zers.


Strategy #3: Influencer marketing

Direct advertising seems pointless and annoying to young people. When choosing products, Generation Z searches for the available information and reads real reviews. Opinion leaders enjoy the greatest authority among young people. For example, 70% of teenagers trust YouTube influencers more than traditional celebrities. Therefore, it is now profitable for companies to invest in influence marketing in order to reach younger audiences.

Find one or more influential bloggers in your niche. The best option is to cooperate with micro and macro influencers, which have less than one million followers. They have the most loyal and engaged audience, with a high probability of listening to advice and recommendations.

There are various ways to search for local influencers:

  • independently by keywords and hashtags on social media;
  • through specialized communication platforms;
  • in databases and catalogs.

Ideally, choose the account of an influential young blogger from Gen Z who can communicate with young people in their language.

Example: Florence Given, a 20-year-old artist that defines herself as a feminist and lgbt+ activist, was chosen as Cosmopolitan Influencer of The Year ’19. Currently, she has over 560K followers on Instagram.

Read more about How to Use the Power of Influencer Marketing to Promote Your Mobile App

Strategy #4: Messengers, chatbots, and push notifications

Another productive way to interact with Z is to communicate in real-time via instant messengers and push notifications on the smartphone screen. In this situation, it is more effective than email marketing, which is actively used to communicate with Generation X (millennials). A zoomer is more willing to open a message or push notification than a traditional email.

Messengers are equally available on computers, smartphones, and tablets and have a high level of engagement. Messages are opened in almost 100% of cases. Through the messenger based AI chatbots, you can provide round the clock customer support, take orders, communicate with the Z audience, and distribute useful content. Do not forget about maximum personalization; serve the content carefully and not intrusively. This also applies to push notifications.

Read more: 7 Examples of Push Notifications That Will Bring Your Players Back to Your Game

Example: Kik is the AI-based app that lets shoppers interact with brand-developed chatbots. In 2016, Kik has driven billions of marketing conversations between chatbots and human customers, 60% of whom were teenagers between 13 and 19 years old.


Strategy #5: Retargeting

Young people have a short attention span. Therefore, retargeting is an important aspect of attracting Gen Z consumers. It helps to remind about forgotten and overlooked information, maintain audience loyalty, and achieve sales.

You need to implement retargeting through media advertising, social networks, and banners. But we recommend limiting the frequency of such messages. Overly frequent communication tires potential buyers and is perceived as pressure. Zoomers do not expect direct sales from brands – they expect sincere care and help instead.

Read more: Is your App Leveraging the Power of Retargeting?

Strategy #6: Social responsibility and authenticity

Gen Z is not afraid to sound overly demanding when it comes to authenticity. They also expect brands to be socially responsible.

Reality Bytes reports that:

  • 79% of consumers have more respect for brands that use images not processed in Photoshop.
  • 84% believe in companies that attract real buyers to their advertising campaigns.
  • 69% are ready to purchase products and services from companies that support certain charitable initiatives and donate money.

All of this shows that Gen Zers need more than just a good brand name. They want to make sure that they are communicating and doing business with really good and honest people. That is why if your company has a strong mission and a set of values, you should dedicate a special page to their presentation on the website.

Example: On the About Us page of the company website, Samsung considers social responsibility and sustainability to be constant components of its value system. The company does not just tell customers where its products come from; it states that working to improve the world is their mission.

Strategy #7: Gamification

As we have previously mentioned, Gen Zers have a short attention span. Therefore, they are very likely to leave your app soon if it does not hook their attention within the first minutes or even seconds of interaction. Many famous brands have already understood it and started implementing gaming mechanics in their non-gaming apps and websites.

Nike is a great example of the positive impact of gamification on a brand. In the recent past, the company’s footwear market share was very small compared to many well-known competitors. But everything has changed thanks to gamification. Nike has managed to become a leader in network marketing in sports with its Nike + gaming app. The number of registered users of this game was 18 million in 2015.

Nike + app users could track their route, steps, and calories when they went for a run. Moreover, they could download all this information to the computer, opening up dozens of new gaming opportunities.

Residents of different countries and cities could compete with each other in speed or complete various tasks and receive awards from developers. After the gamification strategy proved to be highly efficient, Nike almost completely abandoned traditional marketing methods and focused on digital solutions, proceeding with the development of innovative apps.


In 2012, Nike released the FuelBand, which has become one of the most popular products in the brand’s history. The FuelBand measures your intensity and posts the data to Nike + so you can track your workout results. The app not only tracks its own sports achievements but also shares the results with other users. Based on the training results, you can get various awards, trophies, and gifts.


One of the reasons Nike + and FuelBand are so popular is that the app delivers on its promise to the customers, helping them achieve results and hit records.

Another interesting example of successful real-life gamification is The Nike + FuelBox. As part of its advertising campaign, Nike installed a vending machine in New York that allowed owners of FuelBands to redeem their accumulated points for the company’s products. Following the prompts, the bracelet holders could have earned between 500 and 5,000 points for a long walk or a good run. They could redeem the points for Nike socks, jerseys, caps, trainers, and sports watches.

Read more: Is Gamification the Only Way for Apps to Survive?

More Secrets of Correct Approach to Generation Z

What else to look for in order to find a common language with Generation Z? Here are some more quick tips:

  • Leverage innovative technology, such as virtual and augmented reality.
  • Be concise. You have 8 seconds to get a zoomer’s attention. If during this time the content does not arouse genuine interest, the user will instantly switch to something else.
  • Create educational content. Online lessons, apps, courses, webinars – Generation Z values ​​self-education and responds well to educational products developed for advertising purposes.
  • Improve the app. Work on improving product quality, functionality, and design. Add useful inspirational content and unique solutions.

Conclusion

Today’s teenagers are quickly becoming the most active category of mobile app users. To successfully sell products and services to Gen Z, you should think ahead and adapt your app to the habits and needs of young Internet consumers in advance. Get started right now: upgrade social media, support current trends, share engaging stories, and engage in gamification. Focus on openness, conciseness, valuable personalized content, and recommendations from influencers. And do not forget to communicate your brand values. 

It is important to give your brand a human face. This will guarantee that your company will become a leading brand among teenagers.