How to win Gen Z and influence TikTokkers


The younger generations are more plugged-in and spoilt for choice than ever before. Here’s how to cut through the noise and win over this audience.

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Dale Carnegie’s bestseller, How to Win Friends and Influence People, was published in 1936 (!) and sold over 15 million copies. Despite the passing of time, its lessons still offer real value, even in these times of filters and avatars. As a homage to this classic book, we’ve simmered our advice down into six points for all marketers.

Millennials, or Generation Y, are the fastest-growing generation of customers in the marketplace, and are bringing the greatest lifetime value. According to Morgan Stanley, the first batch of Gen Z consumers are now also starting to make a powerful impact with their buying power. However, both generations are much more segmented and less brand-loyal than previous ones. They’re social natives, they’re demanding, they have a finger on the pulse 24/7, and trends have a much shorter shelf-life in their lives. There are real challenges in truly connecting with this audience.  

Our answer? The following six lessons will offer plenty of sound advice for anyone wanting to influence and win over these two connected generations of paper-adverse audiences.  

1. Start by hiring the right folk.

When it comes to building the ultimate brand team, employing people with experience under their belt is a must. But if you’re trying to get the attention of smart, media-savvy youngsters, do you know what else is absolutely critical? Employing smart, media-savvy youngsters. Hiring people closer in age (and mindset) to your target audience will get you that much closer to knowing where to find and how to talk to your audience in an authentic way that doesn’t sound like a desperate dad trying to be cool.

A brand or company will always be the sum total of the people that work to create it. So, to find the right batch of digital doers, you need to recruit in newer, smarter ways. Some of our favourite examples: Nestle recently used Tiktok to hire a marketing manager; the candidates were asked to submit 60-second videos, complete with a song that represented him or her. McDonald’s has started hiring using Amazon Alexa (and Google Assistant), so you can apply by just saying: “Alexa, help me find a job at McDonald’s.” They’ve called it: “Apply Thru”. Unilever in Russia even created an 8-bit game for a virtual career fair where candidates could explore vacancies and ask questions about the roles. 10-page, yawn-fest, curriculum vitae be gone!

To sum up, yes, inexperience in the workplace does present challenges at times, and finding a young head on mature shoulders takes real skill. But the benefits of having a team of social natives at the forefront of creative thinking is immense.

2. Experiences need to break the rules and conventions.

Millennials and Gen Z love unique experiences. Whatever your product or service, it needs to weave in an experience that speaks to their love of crossing borders and trying new things across different platforms. This is where the best experiential marketing can thrive, like our top ten examples. If you can combine the best of physical, virtual and digital into one unforgettable experience (i.e. experiential 2.0), you’re on the money. The real lessons here: you’ll need to combine creativity with the latest immersive technology for the greatest rewards, and you’ll need to be brave. Don’t ask your agency to give you a textbook example to prove their new idea will work before you sign-off. If you’re confident they have the muscle for the job, take a leap of faith. Brands getting real kudos with the younger generations are those that ‘boldly go where no brand has gone before’.

3. Hyper-personalization is a given.

This goes way beyond changing the name at the top of an emailer. Gen Z and Y want services and products that are tailored to their specific needs and wants. Our favourite examples: Netflix, and its slick system of intuitive recommendations that gets better as you use it. Secondly, the Starbucks Rewards Programme, which uses a gamified mobile app to draw on data like purchase history and location to get as personal as possible. It allows customers to customise their drinks and encourages further use; it skyrocketed their revenue to $2.5 billion.

The good news? These days there’s smart tech that enables you to do personalisation affordably, and creatively, whilst also allowing you to easily scale your campaigns. Our secret weapon here: Virtual Atoms. This innovative new platform allows you to distribute infinite digital tokens virtually. They integrate AR, geolocation, Artificial Intelligence, blockchain, 5G connectivity, and gamification into one unique little pixel product. These Atoms cut through physical and traditional limitations and channel clutter, whilst helping you collect rich, personalised consumer data. Once you understand what they’re about (and we’re here to help) the opportunities are infinite.


4. Your employees are influencers too.

Thanks to social media, everyone on your staff is a potential ambassador, and a bit of TLC should turn them into a brand advocate in no time at all. Immense online retail companies like Alibaba leverage this advocacy strategy. They call it Shopstreaming, and it combines social media, streaming, and online sales; and it’s becoming an ecommerce gamechanger. Not ready to turn your staff into salespeople? Then you’ll need to harness the power of the influencer, right from the superstar key opinion leaders, through to the micro KOLS with smaller, but highly engaged audiences. There are options to suit every budget and industry.

5. Play a better game across all channels.

Gamification has infiltrated almost every industry, and the rise in esports and mobile gaming has meant that playing games is now big business. Its value can’t be overstated: it is revolutionising virtual experiences for customers, and it’s offering all kinds of new advertising opportunities within games and through mobile interaction. It’s not just a tool to help improve engagement; it can help with everything from reaching new customers to overhauling your essential service. From creating bespoke Minecraft games through to interactive trampolines, we’ve become old hands at using new gaming tech in our marketing, and it’s paid off, levelling up engagement and ROI for our clients.

6. Become a greener business that puts people over profit.

We’re not just talking about your bottom line; it’s about making eco-conscious and social goals an important part of your brand mission and DNA. Both generations are heavily invested in being socially conscious and living sustainable lives, right from their sense of fashion and style through to what they eat and how they live their lives. From fashion upstarts like Maven and Depop, which are storefronts and marketplaces for designer, preloved and vintage goods, through to mainstream brands like adidas using ocean plastic to create new products. These younger buyers will not only support the brands with higher ideals; they’ll also actively campaign against brands who refuse to put the planet and people before profit.

While most of us don’t talk TikTok or frag friends in Fortnite, it doesn’t mean we should miss out on marketing effectively to Generations Z and Y. You can still use the latest creative technology and big ideas to showcase your brand, you just need the right partner. Drop us a line, and we’ll start winning over Gen Z and Y and influencing Tiktokkers together.

Author bio


Hey there, I'm Sean. I have a passion for automating processes and a love for marketing, I specialize in digital marketing and business development. As Head of Growth, I'm dedicated to helping businesses unlock their full potential. Outside of work, you'll find me embracing nature or enjoying time with friends.