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Generation Z and Beyond: How Young Innovators Can Capitalize on Market Gaps

Author Ella Napata |

September 12, 2023

Generation Z and Beyond How Young Innovators Can Capitalize on Market Gaps

For Generation Z, smartphones are like extensions of their bodies. These digital natives have never known a world without the internet and mobile technology. The oldest members of Gen Z were born in the late 1990s when smartphones were just emerging. But this cohort came of age with iPhones in hand and WiFi all around them. Over 90% own smartphones and rely on apps like Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok to stay connected with their peers. For Gen Z, social media is about more than just posting selfies – it’s how they shape identities, share passions, and make their voices heard. They expect brands to engage them through the platforms and channels where they already spend time. Harnessing the power of digital marketing is vital to reaching this digital generation.

Generation Z and Beyond: How Young Innovators Can Capitalize on Market Gaps

The Digital Natives Who Crave Connection

Smart brands are creating content designed for smartphone screens and smaller attention spans. Short-form, visually compelling videos thrive on TikTok and YouTube. Instagram’s Stories and live video features provide a way to generate real-time engagement. Gen Z also responds to brands by encouraging user-generated content and participating in viral trends like hashtag challenges.

True Connection and Community

But it’s about more than churning out digital content. Gen Z seeks genuine connection and community from the brands they support. Over 70% say it’s important for brands to make them feel like they belong. Brands that foster inclusive online spaces and facilitate sharing between users gain loyalty with Gen Z. Responding to comments and DM’s promptly makes a difference.

For today’s youth, digital life is real life. Gen Z expects seamless omnichannel experiences from their devices to the physical world. Retailers that offer in-store mobile integration, like rewards programs, proximity marketing, and self-checkout, create a frictionless experience. With digital natives, the distinction between online and offline is blurring. Brands must adapt accordingly to capture Gen Z’s hearts, minds, and wallets.

Micro-Influencers Who Value Authenticity

Rather than idolizing distant celebrities, Gen Z follows relatable social media influencers that feel like friends. 67% say YouTubers understand them better than mainstream stars. This generation values genuine influencers who don’t shy away from tackling real issues. Partnering with nano and micro-influencers allows brands to build trust authentically.


Nano-influencers have 1,000 to 10,000 followers, while micro-influencers have 10,000 to 100,000 followers. Their smaller follower count allows them to foster a tight-knit community and have genuine interactions. When partnering with brands, nano and micro-influencers focus on showcasing products they love rather than pushing products just for money. Their endorsements feel natural rather than salesy.

Glossier Success with Micro-influencers

For example, brands like Glossier have found success working with micro-influencers on Instagram and YouTube. These everyday influencers create tutorials and reviews focused on Glossier products they use daily. Their authentic enthusiasm comes across as more genuine than a celebrity endorsement. Teens trust the word of influencers who are relatable peers over models and actors.

How to Find Relevant Nano and Micro-influencers

To find relevant nano and micro-influencers, brands can search hashtags and keywords related to their products. Scour Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok for creators already mentioning or using your products. Reach out to influencers who are a natural fit. Provide free products for them to try and give creative freedom to showcase the products in their own voice.

The key is finding influencers who authentically love your brand and organically work it into their content. Paid sponsorships that lack authenticity won’t resonate with Gen Z. According to a survey by Deep Focus, 67% of Gen Z distrust traditional advertising. But they do trust the influencers they follow every day online. Tapping into that trust and goodwill is vital for brands seeking to build credibility with Gen Z consumers.

Data-Driven Shoppers Hunting for Deals

Generation Z relies heavily on data to make purchasing decisions. Armed with smartphones, they leverage technology to find the best deals and products. This cohort is comprised of savvy shoppers who grew up in a digital world.

Optimize Mobile Shopping

Sixty percent of Gen Z consumers use their mobile devices to compare prices, read reviews, and find coupons while shopping in stores. Retailers that need to optimize the mobile shopping experience will need help to capture Gen Z spenders. Seamless user journeys, fast load times, and compelling visual content are essentials.

Exclusive Digital Coupons and Loyalty Programs

Gen Z is highly deal-driven, with 72% saying they only buy products when they are on sale or discounted. They leverage apps to hunt for promotions and patiently wait for the best price. Retailers should offer exclusive digital coupons and loyalty programs to drive conversions with this demographic.

Online Reviews

Online reviews significantly influence what Gen Z buys. Over 70% say positive reviews make them more likely to purchase a product. They rely on influencers and social media communities for authentic endorsements. To build trust, brands must cultivate relationships with nano and micro-influencers who can organically integrate products into content.

Educational and Transparent Content

Regarding big purchases like technology, 73% of Gen Z do over 3 hours of online research beforehand. They analyze specs, compare prices across retailers, and read detailed reviews. Brands that provide helpful educational content and transparency can earn Gen Z’s trust during the consideration phase.

Gen Z is Highly Loyal to Brands they Trust

Once Gen Z finds a product they love, they are highly brand loyal, with 60% sticking to the brands they know and trust. The brands they buy help define their identities. Retailers that make Gen Z feel understood through targeted messaging and values alignment will gain lifelong, vocal brand advocates.

Gen Z represents a huge market opportunity for retailers. Their spending power will only grow over the next decade. But brands must optimize mobile experiences, provide value through discounts and loyalty programs, partner with influencers, and build authentic connections to thrive with this demographic. Data is Gen Z’s compass when making purchasing decisions. Leveraging technology to provide personalized, seamless shopping journeys is key to reaching these digital natives.

Activist Entrepreneurs Impacting Industries

Generation Z is a purpose-driven cohort focused on creating positive change. 72% report that their dream is to own their own business someday. This entrepreneurial spirit and a passion for social impact presents a massive opportunity for brands. Gen Z seeks to launch companies, products, and initiatives that challenge the status quo and address pressing issues. If corporations hope to appeal to these changemakers, they must demonstrate an authentic commitment to driving progress.

Greta Thunberg – Fridays for Future

The voices of young activists like Greta Thunberg, the founder of the Fridays for Future movement, exemplify how Gen Z is influencing industries and corporations to take action on climate change. Thunberg called out leaders at the World Economic Forum, declaring that “our house is on fire.” Her activism mobilized students across 150 countries to participate in school strikes to demand environmental policies. Thunberg’s impact shows the power Gen Z has to catalyze change.

Build Purpose in Your Business Models

Brands that want to inspire loyalty with Gen Z must build purpose into their business models and company cultures. 72% say it’s essential that a company gives back to society instead of just making a profit. Gen Z heavily influences a brand’s activism and sustainability when purchasing decisions. They will reward corporations that take measurable steps to combat climate change, racial injustice, and economic inequality. Brands that fail to progress on social and environmental issues will quickly lose relevance.

Gen Z also uses their entrepreneurial skills to create innovative products and platforms that address unmet needs. Teen activists like Jamie Margolin, co-founder of the Zero Hour movement, and Nadia Sparkes, founder of, exemplify young changemakers turning passion into action. Brands can empower youth innovation through funding, mentorship, and incubation programs. They can also highlight and platform young entrepreneurs making an impact. Supporting Gen Z’s entrepreneurialism and activism will build brand affinity and trust. Leaning into social innovation is critical to engaging this driven generation focused on creating change.

Multicultural Creators Driving Culture Forward

With diversity embedded in their DNA, Generation Z is pioneering a new era of multiculturalism and acceptance. As the most racially and ethnically diverse generation in American history, Gen Z embraces fluid identities and defies labels.


Nearly half of Gen Z identifies as non-white, and 1 in 4 have at least one immigrant parent. Growing up in a globalized society, they celebrate blended backgrounds. Their circle of friends transcends race, religion, and sexual orientation. Supporting equality is an expectation, not a debate.

Social Justice

Beyond demographics, Gen Z wholeheartedly rejects prejudice and fights for social justice. 72% believe increasing diversity is good for society. They boldly counter intolerance through activism and education.

Brands that Ignore Diversity

Brands that ignore diversity do so at their own peril. Gen Z demands representation and will vote with their wallets. Inclusive advertising, diverse leadership, and activism attract their attention.

Self-expression and Creativity

With identity secured, Gen Z turns to self-expression and creativity. They display their individuality on social media through photos, videos, and messaging. Apps like Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok are their playgrounds.

Real-time Content

The smartphone generation documents their lives in real time across digital channels. Sharing creative content, from dance videos to art and music, is second nature. Their YouTube obsession underlies their passion for performing and producing original work.

Authenticity is Key

Nano and micro-influencers thrive by showcasing Gen Z’s unique style and skills. Authenticity trumps polish, with influencers lauded for tackling real issues. Instead of following inaccessible stars, Gen Z takes cues from relatable, creative peers.

Facilitate Creative Collaborations

Savvy brands should provide platforms for Gen Z to develop and share content. Facilitating creative collaborations and competitions builds loyalty. This generation will reward companies that recognize diversity and empower self-expression.

Personal Brands

While crafting content, Gen Z also curates their personal brands. Their digital footprints reflect carefully cultivated identities. Self-expression intertwines with social awareness.

With Gen Z at the helm, the future looks bright. Their inclusive worldview expands culture and drives innovation. Brands that embrace fluid identities and originality will earn their attention. Companies can boost their brands by empowering youthful voices while making a difference.


How does Generation Z's high level of connectivity and digital immersion impact their expectations from brands, and how can businesses effectively meet these?

Generation Z’s high digital immersion means they expect brands to deliver seamless omnichannel experiences, content designed for smartphone screens, and smaller attention spans and engage them on the platforms they already frequent. Businesses can meet these expectations by harnessing digital marketing, providing immersive digital experiences, and fostering an inclusive online community. Participating in viral trends like hashtag challenges and encouraging user-generated content can also bolster engagement with this generation.

What unique strategies can brands employ to establish trust and authenticity with Gen Z such as through influencer partnerships?

Brands can establish trust and authenticity through strategic partnerships with nano and micro-influencers. These influencers have smaller but highly engaged communities. Their genuine interactions and endorsements often come across as more authentic than traditional advertising. Brands should find influencers who already love their products and can organically incorporate them into their content. This resonates better with Gen Z and helps build credibility with such audiences.

Given Gen Z's focus on diversity, authenticity, and social consciousness, how can brands integrate and showcase these values in their business models to establish loyalty with this demographic?

To resonate with Gen Z’s focus on diversity, authenticity, and social consciousness, brands should show a genuine commitment to these values in their business models. This can be achieved by featuring diverse leadership and representation in advertising, taking decisive stances and dedicating resources towards social and environmental issues, taking part in social justice conversations, and fostering inclusivity. Building authentic connections with Gen Z thereby requires more than monetary transactions, it necessitates social impact and the demonstration of shared values.

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