Embrace the Conflicts with Youth Culture


Companies all over the world face similar challenges when targeting youth culture, but what makes understanding today’s young consumers so difficult or elusive? While we were all young at some point, unless we are under the age of 21 in 2018 we are not a part of Gen Z. We can only gather second-hand intelligence, no matter how immersed we get. Gen Z is growing up in the world that we created, but they, of course, see it from a very different perspective.

Some researchers have described youth culture as embodying values that are ‘in conflict with those of the adult world’ (Patil, 2014). How can adults connect authentically with a culture that is in conflict with them? There is undoubtedly a conflict of interests and priorities that need to be overcome, but there are also many unexpected similarities and shared values. Look past your assumptions about youth culture and listen to this cohort when they tell you how they experience the world. See it from their perspective; embrace the conflicts or face the consequences.


7 Marketing Tips to Reach Gen Z


  1. FORGET WHAT YOU THOUGHT YOU KNEW: Spend more time listening and co-creating with your targeted youth audiences.

  2. BE TRANSPARENT: Make your youth marketing agenda clear and easy to follow. Respect is a two-way street and it’s no different with tweens, teens and young adults.

  3. STEP OUTSIDE OF YOUR CUBICLE: Challenge your team to approach data collection and ideation in original ways that generate authentic Gen Z insights and create opportunities for innovation.

  4. RESIST THE TEMPTATION: Gen Z is not a monolithic cohort. You’re not targeting “teen boys”, “tweens” or “college students”. The old shotgun marketing approach doesn’t work anymore, align with the cultural groups that best match your brand and products, or you are already bound for disruption.

  5. BE COPPA COMPLIANT: Keep your interactions compliant when engaging young people under 13, especially for gaming, technology and app-based brands who might unintentionally request information or track interactions that render your brand out of compliance.

  6. BE WHERE THEY ARE: Don’t forget the popular youth-focused social channels beyond mainstream platforms  YouTube, Instagram, and Snapchat. Consider channels where you can be a bigger fish in a smaller pond. For example; Twitch, Discord, HouseParty, YouNow, TikTok and others.

  7. MASTER CONTENT FORMATS THAT COUNT: Get great at vertical video, live streaming, and creative use of chatbots.


For further reading on this topic check out Chapter 01 of The Gen Z Frequency: How Brands Tune In & Build Credibility