October 18, 2021

How Brands Can Utilize Personalization to Connect with Gen Z

How Brands Can Utilize Personalization to Connect with Gen Z

Odds are you’ve ordered a drink at Starbucks— maybe with light ice or an extra pump, listened to a Discover Weekly playlist curated by Spotify just for you, or added photos onto a coffee mug at least once in your life.

Personalization is nothing new, in fact it’s already a proven marketing strategy that some of the largest organizations in the world employ. It makes consumers feel valued and like brands and services understand them as an individual. It’s also one of the best ways to connect with Gen Z.

From filling out health quizzes to get personalized vitamins and supplements to highly-specific, targeted ads on social, it’s critical for brands to create distinct, unique experiences for users if they want to garner this younger demographic’s attention. Research shows organizations that invest in personalization see revenue growth anywhere from 10-30% and 89% of digital businesses are already investing in the method. 

So, what are you waiting for? Now’s the time to dig in and see where your organization can personalize its marketing strategy. We’ve outlined a few of our favorite examples below.

Dunkin’ Goes All in on Gen Z

Between 2015 and 2017 the average Dunkin’ customer was more likely to be over 55 than under 30. How did a New England coffee chain become the beverage of choice for Gen Z in 2021? One word: personalization.

Dunkin’ realized the power of knowing its target audience and understood Gen Z’s culture, values, attitudes, and lifestyle so that it could launch truly personalized campaigns that spoke directly to the demographic.

In 2019, Dunkin’ partnered with Homesick Candles to launch a $34 coffee scented candle. The highly-personalized natural candles allowed customers to connect with their favorite locations and, now, coffee companies. This was just the start for Dunkin. They’ve since released multiple limited-edition merch drops including apparel, bedding, and sneakers. Gen Z loves limited-edition drops as they inherently establish an exclusive niche and in-group among those who have the products.

To further cement the brand’s relevance with Gen Z, Dunkin’ launched an authentic partnership with Charli D’Amelio, a TikTok star and one of the generation’s most popular influencers. They’ve named multiple drinks after her including the Charli, a Dunkin’ Cold Brew with whole milk and three pumps of caramel swirl.

Gen Z loved seeing the coffee company directly engage with one of their favorite influencers and the move paid off for Dunkin’. According to UBS, The Charli drove a 57% increase in app downloads compared to the previous 90 days and significantly boosted cold brew sales. The partnership also included TikTok campaigns and personalized merch.

All this to say, Dunkin went all in on understanding Gen Z, figuring out who and what gets them excited and launched campaigns that were highly personalized for the generation, creating loyal brand advocates for years to come.

Spotify Wrapped Creates Personalized Playlists That Users Are Eager to Share on Social 

What started in 2015 as a small microsite showing the top songs and genres of the year has turned into one of the most notable and personalized campaigns, Spotify Wrapped. Every December social media feeds are flooded with graphics highlighting users’ most-listened to songs, artists, and podcasts on the music streaming platform. The genius behind Spotifty Wrapped is two-fold.

First, it’s about as personalized and data-driven as you can get. For those who aren’t familiar, Spoitfy takes a user’s music and podcast listening history from the past year and creates a series of graphics and playlists showcasing everything from their most listened to song and artist to how many countries their favorite music came from. Spotify even shares if a user is in the top percentage of an artist’s fan base (tracked via listening data) which adds a level of competition and personalization that users are eager to share.

The second part of Spotify Wapped’s success is that the entire Wrapped campaign is designed to be shareable. It’s inherently created for a younger demographic of social natives who live their lives online and crave personalized products. Wrapped provides a way for users to identify themselves by the artists they listen to and share that with their communities via social. The 2020 Spotify Wrapped edition even featured a Stories style highlight, making a seamless integration to share on social platforms. Which, in-turn creates a FOMO effect to entice new users to the platform in order to get an equally personalized report.

This, combined with the fact that 58% of Gen Z is willing to pay more for products that are targeted to their individual personalities, makes the annual Spotify Wrapped campaign a home run for engaging with Gen Z.

Pinterest Takes Personalized Shopping to a New Level

One of Pinterest’s fastest growing demographics on the platform is Gen Z. In an effort to directly reach them, Pinterest is creating an entirely new personalized shopping experience through its AR Try On tool that allows users to virtually try on lipstick and eyeshadow in over 4,000 shoppable shades from brands like Fenty Beauty, L’Oreal, and Urban Decay. The feature allows Pinners to test different makeup shades for their skin tone, save for later, or buy them through the retailer’s site.

Research shows that 91% of consumers are more likely to shop with companies that present them with personalized offers and recommendations and 63% of Gen Z want brands to connect with them on social. The AR Try On tool speaks directly to this.

It doesn’t stop there either. Pinterest noted, “with Try On you won’t find skin smoothing or image alerting-effects that make you look less like you…we believe in celebrating you, and so our AR won’t be augmenting your reality, but rather helping you to make happy and real purchases for your life.” Nearly 80% of Gen Z says they will trust a brand more if the images they use are not photoshopped. This demographic craves authenticity from the brands and content they engage with and Pinterest’s AR Try On tool speaks directly to this.

The Power of Targeted Ads

To create an even more impactful campaign, brands can couple the power of personalization with retargeting to reach Gen Z. Retargeting is when an organization sends targeted ads to users who have interacted with a website, such as reading blogs, browsing products, even adding an item to their cart. A brand can then target these users with personalized messages showing the products the user had been browsing. If a user already made a purchase, they can be targeted with ads for additional products.

This is the practice that recently came under fire when Apple released an update that explicitly asks users if they’d like their data to be shared. While this created quite the frenzy at companies like Facebook who rely heavily on user data, targeted ads have proven effective.

When they’re done transparently, such as recommending products based on past purchases, research shows user behavior isn’t affected. In fact, if users trust the platform where ads are displayed, they might be even more likely to click and buy. Harvard Business Review conducted a study and found the following: “In one experiment, when we revealed first-party sharing by telling shoppers that an advertisement was based on their activity on the site, click-through rates increased by 11%, the time spent viewing the advertised product rose by 34%, and revenue from the product grew by 38%.” When used correctly, retargeted ads can be extremely useful in giving your personalized campaign an extra push to reach your demographic.

Gen Z has become one of the most sought-after demographics and for brands who want to engage with them, even create brand loyalty within the generation, developing a personalized marketing strategy is key. As more and more organizations get on board with personalization, now’s the time to develop your strategy and connect with this powerful demographic.

Interested in learning how your brand can connect with Gen Z through personalized campaigns? Contact our expert team of strategists using the form below!

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