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How Gen Z is shifting the Marketing Funnel

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The traditional marketing funnel has changed dramatically in recent years, and a big driver of this change is Gen Z. The new generation is coming of age, entering the job market and developing ever-increasing purchasing power. Their unique buying habits and heavy use of social media have far-reaching implications for the way companies need to shape their marketing strategies. In this blog article, we look at how the marketing funnel has changed as a result of Gen Z shopping behavior and what this means for you and your business.

Gen Z: The new Power in the Buying Process

Generation Z (Gen Z) refers to young people born between 1997 and 2012. More and more members of Gen Z are now coming of age, entering the job market and thus developing ever greater purchasing power. This makes it all the more noticeable how differently this new, young generation makes purchasing decisions than their predecessors. They are digitally savvy, constantly online and mainly use social media to find information and inspiration. These changes have a significant impact on the marketing funnel. Conversely, this means that there are some aspects that you should change in your marketing strategy. 

The Inspiration Phase: a new Focus

Traditionally, the marketing funnel consisted of the Attention, Interest, Desire and Action phases (known as the AIDA model), but with Gen Z these phases have shifted. The inspiration phase in particular has become much more important. Recent studies show that 70% of purchase decisions in Gen Z are already made in the inspiration phase and a remarkable 70% of this inspiration takes place online, especially via social media. 

Social Media: The Linchpin

Social media plays a central role in the lives of Gen Z. Platforms such as Instagram, TikTok and YouTube are not only sources of entertainment, but also important channels for discovering new products and making purchasing decisions. In addition, these platforms now serve as a central source of information for Gen Z. For example, they are usually the first port of call when it comes to discovering new fashion trends and learning more about the relevant products. Particularly with regard to aspects such as quality and fit, but often also outfit inspiration. It is therefore important for your brand to have a strong online presence, as this is the only way to reach members of Gen Z and convince them of your products.

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Marketing Shift: from Advertising to Experience

The change in the purchasing behavior of Gen Z requires brands to adapt their marketing strategies. The focus is on inspiration and entertainment. Zalando is an excellent example of how both can be integrated into the online shopping experience. Zalando relies on shop-the-look integrations, often filled with mood shots – stylish, inspiring images and videos that present products in a specific context or lifestyle. This type of content often appeals more directly to members of Gen Z, as it not only shows isolated products but also conveys an attitude to life. This makes potential buyers feel more engaged and more likely to engage further with specific products or a brand, ultimately leading to a purchase from Zalando. 

The Solution: Community and Creator Content for Authenticity and Reach

The easiest way to bring inspiring content to your online store and marketing channels is to involve your own community and use content creators in parallel. 

Using UGC management tools such as squarelovin, you can filter social media platforms for content in which your brand is mentioned or tagged. If you properly obtain usage rights for the content, you can then integrate the content from your community in the form of inspirational galleries on your website, as UVEX does, for example.

In addition to the presentation as a pure gallery, another option is to link the corresponding products directly to the content that presents them. This way you offer the shortest possible path from inspiration to purchase.

If your own community is not particularly active on social media, or you need very specific content, another option is to work with content creators. Unlike influencers, content creators don’t necessarily have a large reach on social media, but they specialize in creating visual content and are often open to implementing content ideas for brands.

Creator content is particularly suitable for use on your brand’s social media channels or in social ads, as it is very similar in style and aesthetics to classic social media content and embeds seamlessly into users’ feeds. This allows you to create inspiration in a “natural” way and generate visibility for your brand, as the example of Burlington shows.

Similarly, you can of course also repost UGC from your community on social media or integrate creator content into galleries on your website. The more you integrate inspiring content across different touchpoints, the better.

You can find more examples of inspiring Shop The Look galleries in the online store in our blog post on the subject. 

Conclusion: The Transformation of the Marketing Funnel

In summary, the marketing funnel has changed fundamentally due to the purchasing behavior of Gen Z. The inspiration phase has become the most important phase, and social media plays a crucial role in this. Brands need to adapt their strategies to provide inspiring and entertaining content that appeals to Gen Z and, most importantly, gain reach on social media to be seen by as many users as possible, as every user who comes across the brand is a potential customer. Zalando and other companies are already showing how successfully this can be implemented, for example by successfully running their own page or cooperating with various influencers. So if a brand wants to reach Gen Z as a target group, it should change its marketing strategy accordingly, if it hasn’t already done so. 

About Bengt Kirchbauer

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