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Executive Summary

An effective recruiting campaign for Gen Z will show an understanding of media habits and preferences. It is important to understand what differentiates them from other generations. This will require a tech-savvy knowledge of industry performance and trends.

Evidently, the Army National Guard (ARNG) is well-positioned to attract students who want to learn more about college tuition, community service, and an action-adventure lifestyle and career. The appeal of its core values of loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity, and personal courage can persuade students on the cusp of adulthood to learn more. The ARNG simply requires opportunities to reach out directly to these students to sell the benefits of their state’s National Guard and to present themselves as a “Plan A.” These students—the digital natives known as Generation Z—care about service and the military. But they are enjoying a healthy job market, limited free time, and even more limited attention spans. To successfully connect with Generation Z, the ARNG must meet these prospective recruits where they are: with customized-by-state events and in-person, digital and social, and out-of-home campaigns.

Generation Z

Key insights for Recruiting: Media Consumption, Preferences, and Behavioral Patterns

  • Gen Z accounts for 25% of the population.
  • They desire to engage with their communities and create a positive impact.
  • Described as “Screenagers,” they use up to five devices at once.
  • Live streaming is a community-building way to connect with the world.
  • They primarily consume mobile media and use mobiles primarily for social media.
  • They view social media as a credible source of information.
  • Their reliance on technology and social media is unprecedented.
  • Their attention span is approximately eight seconds.
  • Gen Z values the manageability they find in the virtual world: there, they can shape their reputations, manage their networks, and control what information they share.

Digital and Social Channels

As Generation Z comprises an increasingly larger percentage of American consumers who are increasingly tethered to their devices advertisers are shifting marketing plans to allocate more and more funds from traditional media to online media. In fact, in 2019 and for the first time ever, eMarketer predicted that total U.S. digital ad spending will surpass spending on traditional media, surging to a record-breaking $129.34 billion and accounting for 54.2% of total media ad spending.

By 2023, this figure is forecasted to reach two-thirds of total U.S. media ad spending.


Overall U.S. digital spending is expected to grow at 17% next year, accounting for 58.5% of overall U.S. ad spending.


eMarketer forecasts that mobile marketing will continue its dominance, accounting for more than two-thirds of digital ad spending at $87.06 billion this year. As a frame of reference, in 2015, advertisers spent $31.58B on mobile marketing.


81% of advertisers surveyed by Clutch reported that social was their top digital marketing channel. For reference, Zenith’s Advertising Expenditure Forecasts for marketers predicted that between 2017 and 2020, total social media spending would increase from $48 billion to $76 billion.

Lead Generation

Meanwhile, in 2019, U.S. digital lead generation ad spending was estimated to total $2.6 billion, and with steady growth, this figure is forecast to reach $3.2 billion by the end of 2023.

To emphasize, these new investments in digital opportunities come at a cost to traditional media. Additionally, in every sector, from print directories and cinema to television and radio, investment is down — with the single exception of out-of-home advertising, including billboards.

These numbers tell many stories, but one thing rings very clear: within ad spending, digital has a bright future. Within digital spending, mobile and social hold the clearest promise for successfully messaging a target audience with quickly evolving media habits.

However, according to a MarinSoftware analysis of the Marin Advertising Index, simply throwing money into a digital campaign may not be enough: “Digital marketers increasingly understand that a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t cut it anymore.” Smart marketing campaigns move on multiple levels to meet customer expectations, increase personalization, and break through the clutter.


Any integrated, multichannel state-by-state recruiting campaign should include events. Over half of the corporations surveyed by Harvard Business Review reported that event marketing drives more business value than other marketing channels, and according to Event Marketer, event volume at 49 percent of organizations increased in 2018—a trend expected to continue. According to a separate survey of 400 event coordinators, 50% of all events were devoted to community building and lead generation. Events will be a crucial part of any successful ARNG recruiting campaign.

That said, with this recent explosion of events comes greater competition for memorable events: according to EventBase’s annual review, “organizers are under constant pressure to make their events bigger, better, and bolder than the year before … upping their game with higher-caliber speakers, more innovative product offerings, more exciting event features, and experiential activations to surprise and delight.”

And yet, with budgets shuffled to favor digital ad spending, who can afford these immersive events and experiential activations? How can the ARNG most effectively reach Generation Z?

The Red Carrot Solution

Red Carrot has studied and tested how to reach Gen Z.  We devised, applied, and optimized a targeted lead generation algorithm over multiple Facebook vehicles to generate thousands of leads. Accordingly, we offered the ARNG real-time lead information. After statistical analysis and rigorous testing, our Facebook lead generation proved efficient and effective, outperforming display advertising by a factor of 33.

As part of a separate integrated media plan for the ARNG, we developed a digital ad campaign that hit an average CTR of more than three times the Google benchmark. The campaign highlighted Gen Z’s desire to impact their community positively, and within six months of commencing the campaign, we met and surpassed the previous year’s numbers.

Moreover, our team has managed 750+ nationwide recruiting events at high schools nationwide.

For these events we:

  • Provide brand ambassadors
  • Train recruiters and staff on event protocols
  • Design, procure, and store eye-catching and effective RPIs
  • Continuously manage logistical support and inventory
  • Measure results and optimize logistics to maximize the value of service
  • Provide effective email/social follow-up
  • Generate post-event reports with results and opportunities to facilitate further innovation and optimization
  • Create buzz and manage PR by writing press releases and managing the media

Red Carrot is available to meet with your team to:

  • Gain a working understanding of your current recruiting strategies
  • Design creative ads that appeal to Generation Z
  • Learn about the budgetary and demographic challenges particular to your state
  • Develop an integrated campaign strategy tailored to those challenges to meet your recruiting goals
  • Discuss a live feed of leads generated via the integrated Red Carrot method
  • Plan events and out-of-home advertising to complement digital strategies
  • Provide recommendations on innovation

About Red Carrot

Red Carrot, an 8(a) and woman-owned business, is distinguished by our proven federal experience and performance-driven processes. Our team is fueled by passion, backed by intelligence, and built on expertise. ​

Red Carrot believes that there is always a better way. We solve our clients’ biggest Strategic Communications, Customer Experience, Management Consulting, and Human Capital challenges.

Red Carrot approaches challenges through our vetted processes based on industry best practices and proprietary data. We continuously explore innovative and often untapped perspectives. This constantly enhances the quality of our work. From our inception, we have stayed research-centric, data-informed, and customer-oriented while expanding our range of highly skilled capabilities. The Red Carrot team supports projects across multiple industries and government agencies. Our accolades include the On the Rise Government Contractor of the Year, Telly Awards, and Hermes Creative Awards.