LONDON: Understanding the needs, aspirations and behaviours of Generation Z should be a top priority for marketers in 2017, a new report has advised.

That is according to the latest Annual Digital & Media Predictions study from Kantar Millward Brown, the global research agency, which each year provides marketers with guidance about the challenges and opportunities for the year ahead.

Now in its ninth year, the report reminded marketers that Gen Z consumers, or those born between 1997 and 2011, now represent about 27% of the world’s population.

Kantar Millward Brown's core message is that brands will need to develop creative content that appeals to the imagination and emotions of these young consumers.

"Gen Z will not only change how brands communicate but also create challenges in how brands demonstrate authenticity and transparency in digital," said Duncan Southgate, Kantar Millward Brown's Global Brand Director, Media and Digital.

"Strategies that are likely to be successful include investment in digital platforms that allow consumers to co-create a shared brand experience," he added. "Gen Z will be hands on – they want to try it, take it apart and recreate it."

According to the report, Gen Z consumers respond much more than millennials to emotional and musical narratives – and that creates new opportunities for brands that focus on creative content.

That becomes even more appealing to this generation if digital content moves away from the factual and linguistic towards the imaginative, especially if delivered via new technologies such as Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality.

"This will require a new approach to branded content. With the landscape ripe for new creativity, marketers will need to closely monitor which formats Gen Z and other consumers find annoying and intrusive, particularly on their first screen – mobile," Southgate explained.

"Alongside this new form of content, marketers also need to deliver a seamless brand experience across all touchpoints. Gen Z have grown up in a connected world and are impatient towards disjointed online/offline models that are older than they are – and this group will not adapt."

Data sourced from Kantar Millward Brown; additional content by Warc staff