Generation Z Presents New Challenges, Opportunities For Marketers

Generation Z, whose oldest members are in their late teens, represents a unique challenge to marketers, reports Kantar Millward Brown. The firm’s study, “AdReaction: Engaging Gen X, Y and Z,” found the group, which represents approximately two billion people globally, is more digitally savvy than previous generations and also more difficult to engage—among people who skip ads, they skip three seconds faster per ad on average than Gen X.

Kantar Millward Brown’s study analyzed key media consumption patterns, attitudes toward advertising and responses to specific creative approaches, and is based on surveys of more than 23,000 consumers in 39 countries.

“Gen Z has grown up in an on-demand world of infinite choice, and this flavors their expectations of advertising,” says Duncan Southgate, global brand director, media & digital at Kantar Millward Brown. “They are much more attracted to ads that allow them to co-create or shape what happens, compared to Gens Y and X, who have a higher preference to link to more information about the brand.”

The study found that while Gen Z spent less time with traditional media—51 percent watch an hour or more of TV a day compared to 74 percent for Gen X—Gen Z is consistently more positive about ad formats such as outdoor, print ads and cinema, TV and radio ads than standard digital alternatives. Despite its acceptance of traditional formats, Gen Z is also more positive than other generations toward mobile rewards video and skippable pre-rolls—which achieve net positive scores of 41 percent and 15 percent, respectively—but especially critical of invasive ad formats like non-skippable pre-rolls and pop-ups (-36 percent and -42 percent, respectively).

Gen Z is more receptive to advertising that includes music, humor, celebrities and other creative content. Kantar Millward Brown found that they are also attracted to ads that allow them to co-create or see what happens when they make a decision, and are more positive toward brands that let them vote for something to happen (31 percent compared to 25 percent for Gen Y), choose an option (28 percent compared to 25 percent) or make decisions (27 percent compared to 22 percent).

The study also revealed that Gen Z is an extremely design-conscious consumer group and will take note of an ad’s aesthetic qualities and appreciate the use of new immersive formats like augmented reality and virtual reality. Innovation in formats like native ads, sponsored lenses and sponsored filters all attract much stronger approval with Gen Z than other age groups. They are also significantly heavier users of social platforms, not just in terms of the time they spend on them but also the number of platforms they visit. These range well beyond Facebook and YouTube and include Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat. The study found that 36 percent of Gen Z globally accesses Instagram several times a day, and 24 percent accesses Snapchat at the same frequency, compared to 21 percent and 10 percent respectively for Gen Y (those aged 20-34) and nine percent and four percent for Gen X (those aged 35-49).

Kantar Millward Brown expects branded content to be more attractive to Gen Z. Formats like branded events, social media feeds and celebrity endorsements all score higher for this group globally than older consumers. Gen Y is more positive about user reviews, social media and native information, while Gen X prefers brand information.

“No generation is a monolith and Gen Z is no exception,” adds Southgate. “Their upbringing, expectations and access to technology, however, has created a range of attitudes and behaviors that will challenge marketers. Only when brands take all this into consideration will they be successful in engaging this increasingly critical and fast-emerging group of consumers.”

More details from “AdReaction: Engaging Gen X, Y and Z” are available here.

filed under industry-news | january-2017
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