How to Market Your App to Gen Z

By Noa Gutterman | October 26, 2020

Noa Gutterman leads product, life cycle and performance marketing at VSCO. Noa moved to the Bay Area to run growth marketing at HER, the largest dating app for queer women. Pursuing her quest for further digital marketing knowledge, Noa later joined Metric Theory, where she built a mobile-first marketing team. Now, as VSCO’s Marketing Team Lead, Noa drives user acquisition for one of the largest photo/video editing apps in the market.

Learn more about Mobile Hero Noa Gutterman.

Gen Z, those born between 1995 and 2010, make up 40% of the global population and represent $143 billion in spending power. They are the mobile-first generation–having grown up with smartphones, social media, and the whole world accessible at their fingertips. Young people define our future—how we engage with content and technology, our relationships with each other, and what’s moving culture forward. But how should companies approach this demographic? This question is at the core of how we’ve built, marketed, and scaled VSCO over the last few years.

VSCO and Gen Z

For those of you who don’t regularly edit photos and videos, VSCO is a suite of creative tools, a space to find inspiration, and a place for you to be… well, you. While creators of all ages and demographics utilize our product, we are particularly interested in attracting Gen Z users and upselling them to our premium subscription. 

Creation is intentionally messy. At VSCO, we aim to welcome that chaotic, uncompromising, real-life into the fabric of our product. And we know that authenticity is one of the core values that Gen Z’ers prioritize. For example, 63% of Gen Z customers prefer to see “real people” in ads, whereas only 37% of millennials feel the same. We don’t know everything about Gen Z, but one thing we know for sure is that they will continue to seek out safe spaces on the internet–places where they can authentically connect, learn and create. From TikTok dances to political protests, Gen Z leads the way as consumers who blur the lines between physical and digital spaces.

Marketing Tips for Attracting Gen Z

  • User Research: We’ve gathered great insights into what potential subscribers might be looking for by talking with our existing power users. Take advantage of surveys, interviews, and user feedback sessions to develop detailed profiles of the types of users you want to go after. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to learn about your product’s pain points and how far you could scale if you’re able to solve them.
  • Product Testing: We’ve seen a lot of success testing components of our onboarding and user journey, in order to understand what works best for driving free users to convert to paying subscribers. Creating a dynamic, engaging, and cohesive user journey is more important than ever, especially as the mobile app landscape gets more crowded. At VSCO, we create each asset and every component of the user journey with an eye to our ideal end state––a user purchasing a VSCO premium subscription. With that in mind, our ad creative highlights the best, coolest, and most cutting edge features of our premium product. Our onboarding flow offers tips and tutorials on enhancing creative expression by testing out our premium tools. Our upsell messaging and free trial experience solidifies for our users their need for VSCO premium tools to transform photos and videos into something that they can’t get in any other app.
  • Ad & Platform Testing: Determining which platforms and strategies deliver the best returns is crucial for targeting any audience, but particularly relevant for Gen Z, who respond differently to ads and are on different platforms than other generations. Advertisers should aim to develop LTV models for users of various platforms to understand how ROI may differ per audience segment. For example, is TikTok driving cheaper CPIs but more expensive in-app purchases? Or, is Snapchat driving higher rates of purchase but a high cost-per-purchase? Did Facebook previously drive strong returns but has become less profitable in the past few years? Exploring ad platforms and testing strategies, even emerging channels or ones that didn’t previously scale for your business, will unlock opportunities for scaling profitable segments of your paid marketing mix.

Subscription Apps and Gen Z

Unlike other generations introduced to digital subscription apps as adults, Gen Z’ers have grown up with subscriptions as a foundational part of their digital experiences. When it comes to marketing subscription apps, it’s crucial to highlight your product’s value to users. What makes your product special? What are they getting from you that they can’t get anywhere else? Why should they continue to pay for your subscription?

Creating the perfect marketing strategy to attract Gen Z’ers to your app is no easy feat. It requires careful consideration, a deep understanding of the user’s needs, and a careful eye on trends and popular content, platforms, and creative styles. Develop new audience personas, reach passionate communities who need your product, and stay true to the authentic, messy, imperfect version of life that your app represents.

Want more tips from our Mobile Heroes? Read up on past blogs that share key industry knowledge. You can also meet the Mobile Heroes on our website.