Zone in on Gen Z

Sales & Marketing

“Master the topic, the message, and the delivery.”
– Steve Jobs


How Companies are Appealing to This Generation

Gen Z is a generation marked by diversity, self-reliance, and digital fluency.
As the oldest members of this generation approach their 30s, it’s more important than ever to engage successfully with this socially-minded generation. Here, local executives share how they are finding success in engaging a different generation of consumers with a unique set of values and priorities.


Tory Johnston

Vice President of Sales and Marketing, MoonPie

As a 107-year-old brand, MoonPie has had to find ways to continue to appeal to and remain relevant with each new generation with their fresh perspectives and different values and priorities. That said, we find that Gen Z consumers, like the Millennials before them, value authenticity.  Staying “real” and true to our “working man’s lunch” roots, celebrating our unique “s’more” taste appeal and Americana heritage, and gently poking fun at ourselves and this crazy world we’re living in seems to resonate pretty well. MoonPie is “outta this world,” so that platform and brand personality affords us a runway to have fun with it. I hope we get it right more than we don’t, and trust Gen Z to quickly and digitally let us know when we don’t!

Patten & Patten ad


Jay Dale

Market President, Southeast Tennessee Region, First Horizon Bank

As a financial institution founded in 1864, First Horizon Bank has always been committed to adapting to the changing needs of its clients across generations. With the pace of change accelerating at an unprecedented rate, it has never been more important to meet clients where they are – and our service to Gen Z is no exception. Serving Gen Z means being available to provide personalized services while also providing tech tools that make research or account management easier. Gen Zs are acutely aware of customer reviews and experiences. They are also extremely tech savvy and are members of the initial online and social media generation, which is where they receive information and news. Our focus is on making sure all of our banking experiences – whether in person or online – truly consider who we are serving and how they prefer to be served.

5090 South Web Ad


Kate Maine

Vice President for Marketing, Communications, and Workforce Development, Dalton State University

As a college, Gen Z’ers comprise much of our student population. Research shows that Gen Z’ers are more likely to attend college than previous generations because their families understand the value of higher education for lifelong earnings potential and career stability and success. Engaging with consumers of any generation requires an understanding of what is important to them, how your product or service may align with their needs, and how they prefer to receive information and engage. Because the students of this generation are digital natives, one way we engage with them is through social media platforms and sites where they are already spending a lot of time. We strive to highlight diverse educational pathways and career opportunities through stories about current students and recent graduates, and we are increasing our use of video to share these stories through the authentic voices of the students and graduates.

FirstBank ad


Jason Merryman

Vice President for Enrollment Management, Southern Adventist University

Here at Southern Adventist University, we have refined our communications and student experiences to reach Gen Z students as they choose a university. We have adjusted our approach so students can leverage text and email as the primary tools in making their decisions, which has provided higher success rates than phone calls. We’ve found that Gen Z values their parents’ opinions more than ever, so we connect with parents early in the enrollment process and copy them on communications sent to the student to ensure everyone is kept current. Customizing communications to students who show interest at various points in the year has been important as well, so we tailor communications for where the student is in their journey. We also incorporate peer reviews, such as word-of-mouth from former classmates, campus visits, events, and online testimonials to engage Gen Z as they make their decisions.


Darren Hodges

Director, Tennessee Valley Division Coca-Cola Bottling Company UNITED

For over a century, and that includes 125 years in Chatta-nooga, Coca-Cola has been a global symbol of optimism that has refreshed generations. Gen Z is increasingly becoming a part of our workforce, and their ideas and perspectives will play a role in our future success. In recent years, we have re-examined and revamped our recruiting and training strategies to appeal to this demographic. On the consumer side, Gen Z is indeed a growing market for our industry, and our intent is to better connect with this audience. An example is our Coke Creations brand, which launched in 2022 using a blend of musicians, designers and technology to introduce limited-edition flavors such as Starlight, Dreamworld, and Ultimate. We want to connect with and celebrate the experiences that bring our Gen Z consumers joy. Coke Creations aims to engage and surprise through unexpected tastes and collaborations – something we know our consumers have come to expect from us.

Mauldin & Jenkins ad


Zac Brown

Chief Talent Officer, Hamilton County Schools

Our new and incoming teachers come to us with a unique and personal commitment to the teaching profession. Not only do they want to find meaning in their work, but they also want to know that the vision for that work and their professional growth are being shepherded well. We work with our innovative talent acquisition team to make sure that the recruitment process is personable and individualized, while also showcasing the district’s dedication to ensuring that every employee is valued through purposeful leadership development and competitive compensation programs. Gen Z knows their value, and we are excited for their commitment to the students of Hamilton County.

Bridging Divorce Ad


David Blair

Chief Marketing Officer, Chattanooga Tourism Co.

Every generation has its unique values and priorities. It’s important to understand the characteristics of each if we want to relate and engage with a particular generational cohort. Our approach with Gen Z hinges on authenticity and digital innovation. Recognizing Gen Z’s value for authentic experiences, we spotlight Chattanooga’s unique cultural and natural attractions through genuine storytelling. This includes leveraging user-generated content, where young travelers share their real experiences. This type of content resonates strongly with their peers. We also embrace digital platforms where Gen Z is investing their attention. Through interactive social media campaigns and influencer partnerships, we create relatable content that sparks their interest in our events and attractions. By aligning our marketing efforts with Gen Z’s values of authenticity, digital engagement, sustainability, and unique experiences, we successfully connect with this dynamic generation, inviting them to explore all that Chattanooga has to offer.

Linda Brock Web Ad


Stacy Lightfoot

Vice Chancellor for Access and Engagement, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

At the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, we prioritize engaging and preparing Generation Z students for the dynamic workplace ahead. Understanding their distinct values such as authenticity, inclusivity, and innovation, we tailor our approach to resonate effectively with them. On campus, we cultivate an environment that celebrates diverse viewpoints and backgrounds, fostering a sense of belonging. We offer flexible learning options, integrate cutting-edge technology, and champion initiatives to align with their aspirations. Actively seeking student feedback, we continuously adapt our programs to meet their evolving needs. By embracing Gen Z’s priorities, we deliver enriching experiences that not only enhance their college journey but also equip them for success in the ever-changing workforce landscape.

CHI Memorial Web Ad


Becky Hansard

Head of School, Silverdale Baptist Academy

Silverdale Baptist Academy recognizes and appreciates the unique perspective that every generation brings to our community. While our core values and mission, which are rooted in God’s Word, will never change, our methods and best practices have evolved over the years. We have intentionally sought more input from our stakeholders by engaging them through roundtable discussions, surveys, and social media platforms. The insight we have gathered has resulted in many positive changes for our students and our community as a whole. Understanding that Gen Z parents value creativity, we have spent the last few years perfecting a unique Outdoor Education Program and have successfully combined that with our long-held Charlotte Mason method of teaching. This enhancement to our pedagogy, combined with the construction of a new center that will house labs completely committed to hands-on science, technology, engineering, arts, and math (STEAM) methods will result in opportunities where creative and experiential learning experiences will abound.

Warehouse Row

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