New year messaging: the dos and don’ts for Gen Zs this January

So far, the new year hasn’t exactly been an easy ride. As we kick off 2021 with a lot of 2020’s problems, here’s what Gen Z want to see from you – and what they’d rather you left out.

Don’t be afraid to change your plans

If these first few weeks of 2021 have taught marketers anything, it’s to keep it real. From the celebrity influencers coming under fire for their business-as-usual Dubai holiday snaps, to the firm pushback against overly-aggressive fitness messaging, young consumers have made it very clear what they don’t want to see.

A young person lounges in a hammock.

Above all, Gen Zs are big fans of authenticity. Many young people are stuck at home, unsure of when they’ll next get to go on holiday, or even when they’ll next get to hang out with friends. Whatever message you have planned for your new year marketing campaign, make sure you sense-check it – idealistic and aspirational will likely land poorly for young people who are just trying to get by.

Do put mental health first

From dry January to fitness challenges, brands often tap into health-related new years’ resolutions at this time of year. And indeed – 75% of Gen Zs made a health or fitness-related resolution last January.

As we move into a year unlike any other, though, the focus for Gen Zs should be on developing coping mechanisms that will get them through a tricky time. 61% of UK Gen Zs and 63% of US Gen Zs found themselves exercising less during the pandemic. For a generation that is more concerned with health and fitness than most, this is a clear deviation from the norm.

A girl sits on the ground meditating

It’s also a sign that fitness brands perhaps need to pivot. As well as offering practical solutions to equip Gen Zs with the tools to work out at home, a renewed focus on mental health as a priority wouldn’t go amiss. The mental-health benefits to keeping fit and healthy should take precedence – with smashing goals and building physical fitness a positive byproduct rather than the main focus.

Don’t forget – there’s hope.

When we first plunged into the pandemic last year, nobody knew exactly when it would end. This year, things are a little different. With vaccination programs kicking off all over the world, travel, entertainment and events could start up again at some point this year. Young people who may have started a degree remotely have in-person university experiences to look forward to.

Gen Zs are hopeful for the future, even if it's difficult now.

As you market to Gen Z this January and beyond, you’re doing so in a world where there is a bit more hope than there was six months ago. But remember, they’re a cautious, anxious generation – as you start to paint a picture of what the new normal looks like, remember to emphasise the safety measures your brand is taking to keep COVID risks to a minimum.

Looking for more tips on crafting a sensitive, balanced new year campaign? Visit our New Year, New Habits hub for a comprehensive guide to reaching Gen Z this January.