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4 Marketing Tactics for Appealing to Generation Z The generation just now graduating high school is similar to but distinct from their millennial older siblings.

By Christie Garton

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With $200 billion in buying power, it's no wonder millennials have been the "holy grail" consumer for many brands. While millennials continue to be an important market for companies, a new purchasing powerhouse is demanding attention: Gen Z, the generation encompassing kids born between the mid 1990s and the present. The oldest members of Gen Z are still teenagers, but they already wield a buying power of $44 billion, and it's steadily growing. Combine that influence with the fact that they make up nearly 26 percent of the population and you've got more than enough reasons to start paying attention.

Just like with Millennials, companies need to discover how to genuinely connect with Gen Z to build trust and loyalty. Even if Gen Z isn't your current target audience, they will be – and the best time to grab their attention is now.

To secure the favor of the up-and-coming generation of consumers, you have to know what makes them tick. Keep reading to learn Gen Z's motivators and how you can shape your business to match their values.

Help them build their brand.

After witnessing millennials struggling to find a job after college, Gen Z recognizes the importance of getting valuable work experience early. Not satisfied with simply working at the local grocery store, they're volunteering, starting online shops and partnering with companies as ambassadors. They're constantly on the lookout for ways to build up their personal brands. This is where your organizations comes in.

Invite Gen Z to be a part of your brand as they build their own. Social media ambassadorships, influencer campaigns and virtual focus groups not only make Gen Z feel invested in your company and secure their loyalty early on, but also helps them boost their own online presence.

Related: Gen Z: Coming to an Internship Near You

Rock the selfie.

Scan a Gen Z's Instagram page and you'll surely find more than a few selfies. Mirror their willingness to put themselves out there and showcase the personality of your brand in order to grab their attention. Gen Z doesn't want to speak to a faceless company, they want to connect with an authentic person. Reveal behind-the-scenes looks, ditch the overly "planned" feeling for more spontaneous, honest posts.

An extra tip: pick a relatable spokesperson. Consider enlisting a YouTube star or Vine personality rather than a traditional celebrity. Though they may not be "mainstream famous," Gen Z values their opinions and authenticity.

Related: Here's What the Future of Work Looks Like to Millennials and Generation Z (Infographic)

Focus on quality first.

Contrary to millennials who prefer to invest in experiences rather than things, Gen Z would rather have a cool product -- but there's a catch. With a world of information at their fingertips and the digital knowledge that comes with growing up with the Internet, Gen Z is selective with their purchases. They conduct extensive research before pressing "order." If your product doesn't pass the quality test, no marketing campaign will make a difference.

Impact still matters.

The need to make a difference in the world remains a constant across millennials and Gen Z, though Gen Z approaches it more pragmatically. They not only want to have an impact, they want to see the impact. It's not enough to simply say your company cares about the causes Gen Z believes in, you have to show it. Work social good into your business strategy, enlist the help of Gen Z and then provide updates, videos and emotional stories that truly convey the power of your philanthropy.

Gen Z may be young, but they're informed, ambitious and primed to be the next big consumer market – and it's time to pay attention.

Related: Why 'Gen Z' May Be More Entrepreneurial Than 'Gen Y'

Christie Garton

Founder of 1,000 Dreams Fund

Christie Garton is an award-winning social entrepreneur, author and creator of the 1,000 Dreams Fund (1000dreamsfund.org), a social enterprise which empowers young women in the U.S. through scholarships and life-changing advice. Garton is the author of the best-selling college guidebook for women, U Chic: College Girls' Real Advice for Your First Year (& Beyond!) (4th Edition, Sourcebooks 2015) and co-author of Marketing to Millennials: Reach the Largest and Most Influential Generation of Consumers Ever(AMACOM 2013). Garton has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, The Huffington Post and U.S.News & World Report. She holds a J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania.

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