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How To Click With Generation Z

They’ve gone through life with a mobile device in their hands. Tech-savvy and gadget-happy, they account for approximately 2 billion of the world’s population.

Meet Generation Z.

Born between 1995 to 2010, the digital-first generation is now coming into their own as young adult consumers. That said, their online attitudes and habits are proving a unique challenge to marketers in the digital space, according to “AdReaction: Engaging Gen X, Y and Z,” a 2017 study from Kantar Millward Brown.

Based on surveys of more than 23,000 consumers in 39 countries, including 11 APAC markets, the report explores the opinions of Gen Z compared with their older Gen Y and Gen X counterparts.

“Gen Z has grown up in an on-demand world of infinite choice, and this flavours their expectations of advertising,” said Duncan Southgate, global brand director, media and digital, at Kantar Millward Brown.

Gen Z has proved more difficult to engage, skipping ads three seconds faster per average than Gen X, the report found. Gen Z also prefers ads that are less than 10 seconds in length, while Gen X is tolerant of videos lasting up to 20 seconds.


And it’s not just video. Bombarded by digital advertising, Gen Z is constantly and consciously making the choice to engage or avoid across all channels.

So how do you connect with a digital-first generation that doesn’t want online advertising?

Respect Their Mobile Space
Advertising itself isn’t the problem, according to Damian Madden, global digital manager for Australian wool supplier Woolmark, who has experience working throughout APAC.

“The stats show that they don’t dislike advertising as long as it’s relevant,” he said. “Gen Z has just evolved towards a means of consuming content that makes advertising harder. While traditionally they would have only watched TV and read magazines with integrated ads, they now consume media on demand, which means ads have been pushed to the side. But as long as the advertising is contextual and personalized, it should and does still work.”

The Millward Brown study supports this, stating that while Gen Z spends less time with traditional media--only 51% watch an hour or more of TV a day compared with 74% for Gen X--Gen Z is consistently more positive about outdoor, print, cinema, TV, and radio ads than digital alternatives.

This suggests it’s not the ads but the forum and the delivery. Gen Z is no more likely to have installed mobile ad blocking (13%) than Gen Y (14%) or Gen X (12%), according to the report. But they are more positive toward skippable pre-rolls and more damning toward non-skippable pre-rolls and pop-ups than older generations.

The data shows they don’t want to passively consume online advertising but prefer to engage, vote, or co-create in some way. Mobile rewards also are viewed positively. The message is to respect their mobile space.


Involve, Don’t Sell
Gen Z also responds well to a creative approach. They are design-conscious consumers. The Kantar study showed them to be passionate about music and movies, in favour of celebrity endorsements, and generally well disposed to branded content.

But while Gen Z is a global generation, connected through the digital space, they are far from homogenous.

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

They are also heavy users of social media, both in terms of time spent and platforms used. “The best way to connect is via social and certainly mobile-first,” Madden said. “Gen Z is much more willing to consume content via their devices than other markets.”

A seamless strategy and easy-to-use system are key, he added, “so they are drawn in by the targeted ads, engage with the content, feel a need to buy, and are then able to get it quickly and share it. You have to tick all those boxes.” 

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