Marketing to Gen Z: How to avoid the 'cringe factor' 

Described as comprising "digital natives," Generation Z — roughly defined as those born between the late 90s through early 2010s — is presenting a new challenge to marketers: avoiding "cringe" in ad campaigns, according to MIT Sloan Management Review

For Gen Z, "cringe" is any type of misstep that occurs when an older person tries to speak their language, such as when a brand uses outdated vocabulary or references a viral phenomenon after it was no longer popular, according to the July 6 report. 

Here are four tips for avoiding "cringe" when putting marketing plans in place for a Gen Z audience: 

1. Ensure that people who actually identify as Gen Z and who are up to date on the latest trends are part of the campaign and message development process. 

2. Keep a close eye on time frames; for example, if a campaign is set to go live in six months, don't involve a meme that became popular two weeks ago. 

3. Brand managers only should work with influencers whose personalities mesh well with the message they're delivering so the marketing doesn't seem out of place. 

4. Let the content creators decide on the messaging of the campaign, as Gen Z will be able to spot pandering.


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