Brands need a marketing shake-up to strike a chord with Generation Z

08 September 2017 / Brían Taylor
The next generation is definitely here. With Gen Z we’re beginning to see a fascinating new cohort of teens and young adults who are a curious mixture of traditional and modern attitudes. The eldest Zers are now 22 and entering the workplace, and the youngest already have the power to influence billions in annual spend in the UK.


How can we sculpt brands and messages that resonate with them? We’re working on a report offering insight into the attitudes and behaviours of Gen Z in the digital space. Here’s some interesting snippets that we’ve found;


Z want their privacy


Gen Z update their private social channels (for example Snapchat and their messaging statuses) more frequently than they do their more public ‘broadcast’ channels such as Twitter and Facebook. They’re privacy-savvy, adjusting their privacy settings on each of the apps they use. 3 in 4 only allow location sharing for apps that require it for functioning - they simply toggle it off afterwards - and only 18% would be happy to share their location information with even their favourite brands.

This doesn’t mean they don’t want to share and co-create with brands, it simply shows that this generation are wary of sharing their personal data.


They’re multi-tasking masters


Gen Z wield the power of technology in a way no-one has before. They were born and raised on touchscreens and YouTube. They’ve never known a world unconnected by the internet. Gen Z aren’t going to be told what to do - their attention is in prime demand from all directions and they know it.


They’re creating the perfect balance of offline and online interactions to best meet their own consumer needs. Whilst it would be easy to assume Zers do everything online, in reality they utilise a far more balanced measure of online and offline channels. More than half of those surveyed would prefer to manage private or sensitive information (such as banking) in store or over the phone; most would use a third party website for product research; and more would prefer to submit a complaint online than in person.


Brands need to consider this when reaching out and understand how Zers utilise different channels for different purposes. Gen Z accept that they are going to see brand ads on their social channels (only 5% of those asked would pay for an ad-free social experience). But their receptivity to ads varies by channel; they prefer to see brand adverts on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube than on Snapchat.


Voice matters


There’s no point in being over-complicated on social media. 70% of Gen Z prefer a colloquial, friendly tone from brands they see on social. As part of their realist nature, they know that behind the brands there are real people too. Part of this is simply down to the nature of social as a platform. They’re on social to be relaxed, entertained, and/or informed; not to be lectured and surrounded by ads. Know your audience, but know your platform too. If you’re going to invest time and money in a social strategy (which, let’s face it, would be more than a bit remiss if you didn’t), you need to ‘read the room’.  

Keep it real

This generation have grown up through an era peppered with harsh reality - the financial recession, acts of terrorism dominating the global news, and many have watched millennial siblings try and fail to fly the nest. As a result, they’re realists and pragmatists. They value real people and stories over contrived brand messaging and airbrushed supermodels. But at the same time, they live in the present, they want to have fun, it’s cool to learn again, and it’s cool to be different. In fact, to Gen Z, diversity is only notable where it’s absent.


Gen Z have a strong desire for equality and fairness in the world. If you aren’t authentic, Gen Z are going to notice. The brand experience is about so much more than the product; it’s about brand stories, CSR and responsible operations.

Video’s still king

Over half of those we surveyed (52%) spend at least one hour a day on YouTube. Good video content is key to Gen Z’s attention. But what makes a great video? Two things Gen Z enjoy are being informed and being entertained.  If you bear these in mind (although they may not always go hand in hand) you won’t go far wrong.


This generation is markedly different from its predecessors and to engage them, your brand needs to understand this. What worked with millennials won’t cut it. It’s still early days in the arena of fully understanding Gen Z, but they’re going to own the next 15 years with unprecedented population and spending power – so you’re going to want to know about them if you want them to know about you.


To sign up for immediate access to the free report on its release, visit