PR and Marketing Insights to Target Gen Z


Quick, Quick Takes on Travel - Vol. 4, Take 2

Every generation is different. We each live through and endure distinct circumstances that uniquely shape our shared outlook and experiences. Gen Zers are the first true digital natives. They were born into a fully formed digital world (between 1997 and 2010) and are experiencing adolescence amid the pandemic.

Gen Z’s media diet began with YouTuber relationships and other types of influencers, as opposed to mainstream celebrities. This sets them apart from older generations in that there is little to no distinction between the online and offline worlds. Raised on social media, they have always had unlimited, nearly unrestricted access to information. In fact, they are increasingly turning to Instagram and TikTok for discovery and consuming news over search engines.

This generation values individual expression, has a strong desire for authenticity and transparency, and is very value driven. They often support a business based on its level of social and environmental commitment, or corporate social responsibility. They are ethically concerned, caring strongly about climate change and sustainability. And while they are price conscious given global inflation, 44% of Gen Zers say they try to buy more sustainable brand options even if it costs more.

It has been said that Gen Z is one of the most powerful consumer forces in the market today. Their buying power is $44 billion and expands to $600 billion when considering the influence they have on their parents’ spending.

As we look at Gen Z’s influence on the travel industry in 2023 and beyond, there are a few areas of note to keep top of mind when crafting PR and marketing strategies. Most importantly is an integrated PR and social media program where micro or nano influencers are helping tell the brand story, as non-traditional media outlets are the core focus of pitches and reverberation across PR, and social is a key KPI.

Travel with purpose

Nearly half of Gen Zers seek authentic experiences that are representative of local culture compared to their older generations, and despite being committed to budgeting options, they are still willing to financially support local communities within their budgets. In fact, just over a third of global Gen Zers said they prioritize spending money on local businesses and products when traveling, which is on par with global over-25-year-olds, who have more financial freedom.

This idea of giving back translates to choice of activity as well. Gen Zers are also more likely to be interested in traveling with a purpose, such as volunteering and ecotourism, which is again fueled by the desire to do something meaningful and give back to the community.

Takeaway: Experiences are more important than possessions, so positioning, programming and packaging should go beyond basics and provide some level of self-discovery and/or altruism.

Sustainability rules

In addition to experiences that give back, Gen Z travelers, who grew up with heightened awareness of climate change and global crises, are also looking for newer experiences that are in tune with their environment, like eco-friendly accommodation options. Thirty-eight percent of Gen Zers across the world would consider staying in a green accommodation on their next vacation, compared to the 33% response rate of those over 25. In addition to accommodation options, over a third of Gen Zers are also open to search for sustainable travel offers, which is 6 percentage points above the over-25 cohort.

Takeaway: Authentically going green is the wave of the future and will pay off in dividends.

Action over relaxation

Further to the above, Gen Zers want to be active, not passive travelers. While older generations’ definition of traveling for pleasure usually involves leisure time to unwind, for Gen Z, vacations are driven by a desire for adventure or action. In fact, 57% agree that for them, a vacation consists of excitement, which is opposed to 57% of the total population who primarily seek relaxation on a trip.

Takeaway: Beach chairs and bus tours aren’t going to put heads in beds; action and adventure are key motivators.

Creating Instagrammable experiences

As Gen Z is very passionate about technology, including Instagram, TikTok and other social media, when planning trips and travel, some of their primary intentions are to share their experiences by posting pictures and photos. These consumers aren’t just interested in places or brands but rather in memories and experiences they get from them. Providing Gen Z with unique opportunities for selfies is always key.

Takeaway: It’s all about the photo. If a natural photo op isn’t available, create one – and don’t forget to incorporate branding.

Lauren Kaufman