Gen Z Marketing Funnel

The Gen Z Marketing Funnel blog

Gen Z Marketing Funnel

Have we broken the marketing funnel?

It seems cliché to say that the world is a different place than it was a few years ago, but it’s worth repeating—particularly in regards to marketing. Has your marketing kept up with the times? Not only has the world changed, your customer’s habits have evolved as well. The marketing funnel we know and love desperately requires updating to be effective for a digital native; let’s talk about marketing to Gen Z and Millennials.


The Social Media Shift

In March of 2024, Vogue Business put out an article titled “Gen Z Broke the Marketing Funnel” detailing how the traditional marketing funnel is losing effectiveness. Part of the reason for the shift is social media itself. As social media’s purpose sprawls out to encompass an entertainment center, marketplace, news source, university, as well as social hub, it’s hard to see the straight line from awareness to purchase that used to exist. And methods that worked for the old model, such as traditional advertising, are less effective for this group. According to Archrival, 80% of Gen Zs and 73% of Millennials say that they are exposed to more brands and advertising than any other generation. So how can you break through that noise to get the attention of your customer avatar?

Instead of putting the brand or product front and center and creating a path leading from that, the funnel has turned into a circle with the consumer at the center. Successful brands are moving from the awareness to consideration to conversion model (previously called the Know, Like, Trust funnel) to a continuous loop of inspiration, exploration, community, and loyalty (which we’re calling the Know2, Like2, Trust loop).

The Marketing Loop – Know2, Like2, Trust

Think of the new marketing loop as a way to build a more comprehensive experience for your customer. 

In the inspiration phase, digital natives are most likely to turn to social media to find ideas, new brands, and shops. Once they find your digital presence, they quickly shift into the exploration phase as they research their findings (and use social media platforms as search engines). Think of these two phases like the traditional Know phase—but squared. Younger consumers are spending more time in the Know phase exploring and finding inspiration online. Where before you may have created a post about your product and linked to a blog about it, now consumers expect to bounce between your post and posts from other consumers, your blog and blogs from other consumers, and between different social media platforms (like TikTok and YouTube) seeking similar experiences and reviews.

The Know2 phase is a great time for brands to offer a mix of educational content like tutorials, unboxing videos, and reviews to feed into that information-seeking instinct and push into the community phase

Once you’ve inspired and educated them, digital natives feel a natural connection to your brand as you build a universe. The community phase is our Like2 phase, and involves all the touchpoints that create community around your brand. Brands engaging with customers in a way that’s not transactional will be more successful. 

If you’re familiar with the old marketing funnel, you already understand community is built upon the loyalty of your customer and the “give content” you’re creating and sharing. But Gen Z and Millennials expect more now. They don’t inherently trust brands to deliver all the information they need about a product or service. 40% of Gen Z and 31% of Millennials look to online influencers for reviews. In this way, the Like phase has become the Like2 phase. Sharing UGC (user generated content) makes consumers part of your brand story and helps foster a community of brand loyalists.

Gen Z in particular is actively seeking community. As Archrival notes, Gen Z is the loneliest generation, according to the Cigna US Loneliness Index. Brands that elevate the narratives of their followers (by sharing UGC content and reviews) help push consumers into the final phase of the loop: the loyalty phase (aka Trust). Creating community with specialty groups online, interactive events (both virtual and brick & mortar), and by inviting consumers into your “space” with behind-the-scenes videos and personal narratives help foster the Like2 phase to usher consumers into the loyalty phase. 

Retailers who shy away from sharing themselves may struggle with this, but presenting a transparent, honest, and personal narrative for your brand is very important to Gen Z and Millennials. If sharing your story is difficult or not something you want to do, consider creating a rich story around your brand and the lifestyle you want it to communicate. If the consumer can’t see the wizard behind the curtain, it’s difficult for them to move past Like2 into the final Trust phase.  

We’re no longer operating in the realm of repeat purchases as the only metric of success. We have something much harder to measure; we need to inspire loyalty in the form of word of mouth marketing and community building. 

The most important thing to remember with the new Know2, Like2, Trust loop is that the focus of your marketing should be on your consumers and community. Whereas before your brand may have taken center stage, now it’s time to invite your community into the spotlight. If you showcase how they love your brand and the beautiful things they create with your products, you’ll create a stronger community around your brand and the presence to build loyalty with new customers.

Stitchcraft Marketing is a marketing agency of crafting experts. We customize every program to showcase your brand, engage your customer base, and generate sales in a way that is nothing less than magical. If you’d like to work with us, contact us today to get started!

Anneliese Johnson
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