4 Gen Z Marketing Hacks for Dealerships

If you thought it was too early to start thinking about marketing to Generation Z, think again.

These pre-teens and very young adults (born between 1993 and 2007, give or take) are starting to enter the workforce, and Forbes recently reported that Gen Zers will be responsible for 40 percent of the world’s purchasing power by 2020. Like, by next year.

What do these young people like? Youth marketing firm Ypulse did a study last year of 8,494 consumers in this generation to determine their top 100 favorite brands. Here are their favorite 10.

No huge surprises here – we all know that young people love snacks. Maybe a little unexcepted that social media isn’t more present. (The full list of 100 top Gen Z brands does include Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, and Twitter.)

We can also take a wider view of these most popular brands and glean some insights into the marketing behind them. For example, Generation Z’s love of YouTube tells those of us in marketing and sales something we’ve already intuited: Video rules.

Back in 2007, Doritos pulled a pretty cool marketing stunt when it handed its Super Bowl commercial over to the masses, allowing consumers to submit the content it would air during the big game. This epitomizes what appeals to Gen Z: seeing real people interacting with brands.

Next on the list: Oreo. Was it the company’s Super Bowl XLVII (2012) tweet that launched the century-old cookie into Gen Z stardom? During the third quarter of that game, some of the lights in the Superdome went out for 34 minutes. The chocolate sandwich cookie’s social media team of 15 employees on call for the event captured the moment with a Twitter ad that read “Power Out? No problem,” with a darkly lit Oreo and the caption: “You can still dunk in the dark.” It immediately was retweeted more than 15,000 times and received more than 20,000 likes on Facebook.

Pretty impressive, and a great sidestep of a $5 million Super Bowl TV spot.

There are some common themes among the 100 favorite brands of Gen Zers. Here are a few tips and tricks for dealerships to try based on these brands’ recent marketing strategies.

1. Be authentic and vulnerable. Gen Z knows when companies are putting up a front. They hate to be sold to, and they appreciate transparency and honesty in all communications. Be willing to admit what you don’t know, and spread what you do know far and wide. Share information and tips with consumers. Care about them.

3. Be timely and quick. Use social media. YouTube and Instagram are particularly popular, but Snapchat, Facebook, and Twitter are great too. This generation doesn’t require polished videos and ads – they just want to see the real you, the real people behind your product/brand, real customers enjoying your product, etc. When it comes to offering deals, make them real-time relevant and personalized … and be sure to follow up.

2. Be innovative. A recent Frost & Sullivan study shows that two of Gen Z’s favorite automotive industry brands are Uber and Tesla, both very innovative. Don’t be afraid to try something new, especially if it makes life easier or more enjoyable for your customers. Gen Z loves to be inspired.

4. Be involved. The next generation is very socially and environmentally conscious and likes brands that get involved in causes that help protect the Earth and all of its inhabitants. Dealerships have historically led the way at this in communities across America for decades. Don’t be shy about showing your involvement on social media and singing the praises of your team members who get involved.

And it probably wouldn’t hurt to put some single-serving sized Doritos and Oreos out in your waiting area …

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