Generation Z, who have grown up with a smartphone in their hand, is now on the cusp of adulthood. Technology is an essential tool that has blended seamlessly into their lives from the start. The digital world is all they have ever known. Brands need to adapt quickly to the values and attitudes of this generation if they expect to keep pace and remain relevant to this audience.
It’s particularly tricky to get Gen Z to engage, because they are highly discriminating and more averse to advertising in general.
In the online space Gen Z are significantly more likely to skip ads , suggesting they have a lower threshold for boredom. They are also more turned off by invasive, interruptive online and mobile formats. This may be because the digital realm is truly their space, and advertising there is even less welcome than for other generations. Surprisingly, like other generations, Gen Z have a strong preference for ads in traditional media over digital ads – yet even here their attitudes are typically less positive than their predecessors’.
For media planners, there are a few clear windows of opportunity to exploit. Gen Z prefer short content and they want the opportunity to interact with ads, and to receive rewards for their engagement. They are more open to ads during the day, and to ads in movie and music contexts.
Gen Z have different passion points when it comes to creative content. Two of the best ways to engage them are through music and humor. They also expect a strong and inventive design aesthetic, and they react more positively to celebrity endorsements. All of these preferences come with local cultural nuances. Importantly, these generational creative differences need to be balanced against cross-generational attitudes to issues such as sexuality and discrimination. Responding to these attitudes appropriately can often be fundamental to creative success.
Brands do need to stop using invasive, non-skippable online video formats – all generations dislike these, but especially Gen Z. Marketers also need to experiment with more innovative online formats like mobile rewards, video and sponsored lenses. And it’s important to remember that Gen Z prefer their content to be short, mobile and interactive.
When developing video, ensure ads deliver early impact and intrigue to avoid being skipped, and identify the shared attitudes and values you want to use to connect with people of all ages – planning these things is crucial to maximizing impact.
Gen Z are not the unknowable group that some seem to think. They are different, that’s for sure, and as such demand a different marketing mindset. The AdReaction Gen X, Y and Z report shows that by adhering to the core rules we have outlined here, Gen Z can be reached and engaged to become powerful brand advocates.