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How and Why Brands Readjust Their Strategies to Adapt to a Younger Audience

By Bella Backwell

It’s no secret that brands are beginning to shift their marketing strategies to appeal to younger audiences, and given their increasing purchasing power, we can see why. In 2023, it was reported that Gen Z accounted for an estimated £353bn in spending power worldwide. Clearly, converting younger audiences into customers is important for brand visibility and success, but what strategies resonate with them? 


What Are Young Audiences Looking for in a Brand?

When brands are looking to tap into a younger audience, it’s helpful to understand what’s important to them and how this influences their purchasing decisions. Gen Z (consumers born between 1997 and 2012), are often values-driven when it comes to their spending habits.

More than older generations, whether or not Gen Z is loyal to a certain brand is influenced by diversity. Brands that are seen to be inclusive when it comes to body types, ethnic groups and LGBTQ+ representation resonate with Gen Z customers, as they expect the brands they shop from to align with their personal beliefs and values. For example, a 2023 survey reported that 45% of Gen Z respondents believed LGBTQ+ representation in brand advertising is important.

Similarly, sustainability is a high priority for young audiences, who are more likely to support brands that are committed to sustainable production practises. 2023 McKinsey research reported that 40% of Gen Z and millennial consumers labelled environmental impact as an ‘extremely important’ or ‘very important’ factor when it comes to purchasing decisions. This was almost double the rate of boomers, demonstrating how brands need to shift their marketing tactics to appeal to different audiences, rather than a one-size-fits-all approach.


Meeting Younger Consumers in Online Spaces

Gen Z are the first generation to have grown up with the internet infiltrating their daily lives, making them ‘digital natives.’ This is crucial for brands targeting Gen Z as consumers, as they need to meet them in their preferred online spaces in order to effectively increase brand awareness. 

Social media platforms are an obvious choice for brands looking to engage a younger audience. These play a huge role in Gen Z’s lives – as of June 2023, 94% of Gen Z in the UK were using social media. 

TikTok is a crucial channel for brands to reach a younger audience. Over the past few years, it has exploded in popularity for Gen Z – in 2023, they made up 44.7% of the platform’s users.

Our Tug Agency TikTok ambassador, Reem Shukla, has a few key takeaways for brands wanting to tap into this audience organically:

  • Optimise your content to be discovered by diving into trends, using popular music, and leveraging relevant hashtags. 
  • Display your fun and authentic side, and don’t hesitate to embrace humour.
  • Engage with the TikTok community by participating in challenges, dueting with others, and responding to comments. 

Another option for brands looking to target this demographic is TikTok paid ads. Reem sets out the three different targeting strategies brands can use to appeal to young audiences:

  • Interests can be targeted by presenting ads to users based on their higher interactions with specific interests.
  • Purchase intent targeting leverages in-market users who are actively researching or purchasing one specific product or service. 
  • Behaviour targeting works by showing your content to those watching, liking, commenting, and sharing videos in a category.

TikTok shop, which gives users the option to shop in-platform, is another opportunity for brands to leverage. 49% of Gen Z users have used TikTok shop, making it the second leading purchasing platform behind Instagram. TikTok is also being increasingly used as a search engine, which can help brands improve their visibility among this younger demographic.

Younger audiences are key for visibility and profitability, so it’s important for brands to understand what they’re looking for and where they’re looking for it. Using effective strategies, by appealing to Gen Z’s values and meeting them in their preferred online spaces, is crucial for brands to tap into this demographic.