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Gen Z Insights

“There’s a different response regarding brand purpose messaging. They seem to have more attention and a more emotional response than non-Gen Z audiences.”

It’s not that the generation is averse to advertising. Rather, reaching them takes an entirely new approach. According to Heather, that includes:

  • A media plan based on how Gen Z processes information and which types of messaging they find most valuable.
  • Understanding that this generation responds differently to brand messaging and delivering advertising that caters to that.

“Gen Z can be quite loyal to brands if they are speaking on the issues that matter to them.”

What does that mean? It means that Gen Z looks at brands and their marketing approach differently. They’re far more likely to work with a company that touts sustainability and authenticity than one that has a strong traditional marketing campaign.

To explain, she goes on to reference to the Ben & Jerry’s brand:

“What Ben & Jerry’s does, which is also quite important to this generation, is that they’re authentic. So not only will they stand up for issues that might be polarizing, but it carries into the way they create their product, the way they treat their employees, distribution, supply chains, and even the content that they share.”

Ben & Jerry’s is a brand that is big on authenticity, sustainability, and other social justice causes. A brand like that is exactly what Gen Z is looking for. Brands need to think about their purpose: is it to sell more, or is it because the brand purpose messaging is what you truly believe and represent?

Gen Z is more likely than other generations to make the extra effort to identify the difference between the two. Not only that, but they’ll also prefer the latter. According to Heather:

“This generation is quite discerning. They’re going to take it a step further. If they see something and it’s not verified, they’re going to look it up. And similarly, they’re doing that with brands…actions speak louder than words.”

This is the most diverse generation we’ve ever had. O’Shea talks about how they’ve interviewed experts around the world to try to gain insight into this unique generation. The general consensus?

“They were born with a mobile phone in their hands, you know, this unlimited access. They have unlimited access to information at their fingertips, and knowledge is power. They are using digital, social technology to fulfill all of their needs, and so their relationship with digital is much more complex than other generations.”

Heather goes on to explain that studies from consumer insights show prioritizing connections and relationships with the collective are important to this generation. They care more about how their actions impact everyone else, how the actions of the collective impact the world around them, and how they can reduce their impact for various causes or reasons.

Motivations are different. Heather references the main motivators for people when it comes to digital media and resources:

  • Consumption
  • Creation
  • Connection

Other generations use social media and technology for keeping up, both with friends and family as well as with appearances. They’re more focused on consumption. They’re trying to figure out how to take what they’ve been doing with entertainment, communication, etc., and do it differently.

Gen Z motivations fall across all three areas, according to O’Shea. They’re altering their appearances, layering augmented reality, communicating in an expressive, visually driven way, etc. This generation has found ways to live through this technology in ways that the rest of us haven’t, says Heather:

“I think it all comes down to enhancing the world around you. The world that we live in is amazing. How can we create utilities or entertainment or exciting ways to improve and enhance that world?”



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