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How Marketers Can Authentically Connect With Younger Consumers

By News Creatives Authors , in Leadership , at August 23, 2021

In the past, marketing efforts were generally focused on showing people what they needed. Ads would highlight a product and boast about its features, and salespeople would sell the product by showcasing its capabilities. However, that approach to generating sales doesn’t always work with Generation-Z and Millennial consumers. 

These younger demographics don’t like to be “sold” to. Before committing to making a purchase, they need to trust the brand and believe in not only its products or services but also its mission and the impact it has in the world. 

Below, members of Forbes Coaches Council share expert tips on how marketers can make their brands and products more appealing to Gen-Z and Millennial consumers. 

1. Prove That You Understand Their Problems

Make sure you take the time to truly connect with them and understand their real problems, not just the problems you think they have. Don’t be afraid to prove yourself and your work. Putting together a “proof of concept” or sample of your work can really show you care. – Zander Fryer, High Impact Coaching

2. Be Genuinely Curious About Them

You are making a huge mistake if you assume, judge or label someone because of the generation they come from. Everyone is different. Be genuinely curious about them: Who are they? What interests them? What drives them? What’s important to them? The more you understand them, the more you will be able to connect with them. – Jim Livingstone, Northpoint

3. Make Relationship Calls Instead Of Sales Calls

Nobody likes to be sold to, especially after this past year, when unsolicited pitches exploded over the phone, email and social media. This is relationship selling. When you connect, do so through references. Find something you have in common and take a genuine interest in them. Your first call should be a relationship call, not a sales call. – John Knotts, Crosscutter Enterprises


Forbes Coaches Council is an invitation-only community for leading business and career coaches. Do I qualify?


4. Show Social Awareness And Convert Profits To Purpose

Companies who demonstrate social awareness and convert profits to purpose are more likely to resonate with Gen-Z consumers. Having a purpose that is clear and fulfills a social need helps many people identify with the cause, which in turn encourages people to support the company to support the cause. This values-driven generation feels good about helping and buying your product as a way to help. – Kimberly Janson, Janson Associates, LLC

5. Showcase Alignment With Community Causes 

Align consistently with your core community causes, then make sure those Gen-Z customers see this on social media, on your website and in the images around this work. Knowing that your community, volunteer and cause commitments matter and are truly an integral part of how you work, think and do business will impress them more than a flavor-of-the-month PR push about how caring you seem to be. – John M. O’Connor, Career Pro Inc.

6. Make Them Part Of The Marketing Process

Provide ways for them to be part of the marketing process. For example, hold contests for them to generate ideas on how to best reach their peers. Another suggestion is to host a design sprint or “hackathon” with a focus group of Gen-Zers to have them help you determine which marketing approaches work best. – Karan Rhodes, Shockingly Different Leadership

7. Bring Them On A Journey Behind The Scenes

No one wants to see a perfect, masked-up version of your brand. One of the most powerful ways to sell without being salesy or sleazy is to bring your audience along with you on your journey and behind the scenes. Stories are a perfect way to do so—they disappear after 24 hours, so it takes off the pressure of needing it to be “perfect.” This way, your audience gets to know you for more than what you sell, which helps them build trust in you. – Petra Zink, impaCCCt

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