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Connecting with Gen Z

News, 30 May 2017

GLOBAL: Marketers are turning their attention to Generation Z, as 16-19 year olds become a significant consumer force in their own right across many categories, but this mobile-first generation retains affection for traditional media, research shows.

Writing in Admap, Duncan Southgate, global brand director/media & digital at Kantar Millward Brown, says that Gen Z is not the unknowable group that some seem to think.

That conclusion is based on the findings of Kantar Millward Brown's AdReaction: Engaging Gen X, Y and Z study, based on surveys of more than 23,000 consumers in 39 countries and qualitative research among Gen Z in the US, Germany and China.

"They are different, that's for sure," he adds, "and as such demand a different marketing mindset."

Accordingly, he sets out seven ways to connect with Gen Z, some expected, others counter-intuitive.

The latter group includes traditional media. "Gen Z are consistently more positive about ad formats such as outdoor, print, cinema and TV than standard digital alternatives," Southgate notes.

They may spend less time watching traditional TV than other age groups, making them harder to reach, but if that can be done ads can be well received.

That may be in part because so many standard digital ad formats are invasive, something which particularly irks Gen Z; they demand control.

Net positivity for social click-to-play videos, for example, is +20%, and for skippable pre-rolls +15%. In contrast, non-skippable pre-rolls score -36% and mobile pop-ups -42%.

Music, design and humour all play an important role in reaching this group, the research shows, as does an interactive and appropriate creative approach.

"They are more positive towards brands that let them vote for something to happen (31% compared to 25% for Gen Y), choose an option (28% compared to 25%) or take decisions (27% compared to 22%)," Southgate explains.

He adds that this is just a "first look" at Gen Z and it remains to be seen if their views alter as they age.

"Some of the differences we have observed – such as negativity to non-skippable online content – may last a lifetime, while others – such as Gen Z's ambition or a passion for selfies – may simply be a phase."

Data sourced from Admap