Why brands need a GenZ marketing strategy

In this guest post, Mark Henning of Kantar Millward Brown explains why your brand just needs to capture the attention of the 20% of the Australian population that is Generation Z.

Just when you think you’ve figured out your marketing plans… Boom! New research shows that your approach won’t work with Gen Z.


Considered by advertisers and marketers to be kids, tweens and teens aged 5-19, Gen Z makes up the up-and-coming consumer. From pocket money to their first paid jobs, this generation is the next to experience disposable income – income, usually, without commitments such as board or other expenses.

Because of this, understanding Gen Z is increasingly important for marketers. Gen Z teens in particular are already making buying decisions, increasingly with their own income which will increase in the imminent future.

They also now make up 20% of the Australian population and, having grown up with digital technology, are even showing millennials how it’s done.

If they aren’t setting the trends themselves, they are, at minimum, the bell-weathers for the next consumer zeitgeist.

So what should you keep in mind when it comes to catching and holding Gen Z attention?

In a recent study, we looked at what appeals to the generations and discovered a few key takeaways every marketer should know about Gen Z.

Surprise surprise…. Gen Z still consume heaps of traditional media.

Unsurprisingly Gen Z regularly use a broader number of platforms than preceding generations with the likes of Snapchat and Instagram featured in their repertoire alongside the usual suspects of Facebook and YouTube.

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The stunner is that large numbers of Gen Z still spend significant time with ‘traditional media’ – TV (46%), radio (29%) and outdoor (62%) all continue to attract the Gen Z audience for more than one hour per day, on average.

Marketers looking to reach Gen Z through these formats should bear in mind that grabbing and holding attention with good content is still critical – otherwise attention will divert to their mobile or tablet which is likely to be within easy reach.

Young Australians preference for content?

Gen Z’s have a stronger preference for video content than other Gens. And while all generations have a strong preference towards shorter video from brands, Gen Z is more so than others.

Our findings show that less than 10 seconds is ideal with under 20 seconds the critical benchmark. It doesn’t mean that longer videos can’t work – but you would really need to ensure your content is great. But for Gen Z, the goal posts must be set to less than 20 seconds which will require a shift in thinking.

These findings reinforce what many marketers already know about video — creative needs to strike the right balance of entertaining or impacting while also communicating the brand message early and efficiently.

But for Gen Z, the goal posts must be set to less than 20 seconds which will require a shift in thinking.

The majority of branded video out there far exceeds the ideal so I suspect this will bring a sea change in the coming year.

Gen Z expect to be in control

Gen Z have a strong negative attitude towards ads which take away their digital control. Autoplay, non-skip and intrusive ad formats are all perceived more negatively by Gen Z than other Gens.

On the flip side, formats which give them control i.e. click to play, skippable video, are more positively received by Gen Z than their counterparts.

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Taco Bell’s Snapchat foray was a huge success

Taco Bell made a great move into Gen Z territory with its taco head Snapchat lens.

The lens format gives people the chance to interact with branded content in a personal and silly way, and the leads to a more positive perception of the advertisement overall.

But giving Gen Z control doesn’t mean they will watch content all the way through. Gen Z are the most likely to skip ads and will do so faster than their predecessors. So if you don’t grab their interest and attention immediately, they’re gone… yep, that sounds like my kids.

Humour of course.. but Gen Z also want it to look and sound great

Humour and relevance are key for marketers to engage across all generations, and this is even more so for Gen Z.

But if you really want to appeal to Gen Z, add in a great sound track and pay attention to visual design.

Take the Fruit2Go advert that brilliantly infuses humour, vivid visuals and playfulness to engage Gen Z.

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The brand comes through quickly but without getting in the way. The fast-paced flow and interchanges make you sit up and keep you engaged.

Oreo also hit the mark with its Wonderfilled Anthem campaign.

Using classic childhood story references such as the Big Bad Wolf set to the breezy score, the story provides an alternative ending: Would the wolf have been bad if he’d eaten an Oreo?


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More importantly, the music is catchy and the animation playful — both elements strongly appeal to young audiences.

Overall, the findings from our research into Gen Z shows that there are better ways to engage this generation so that they will positively respond to your advertising messages.

Marketers just need to start to thinking in terms of short, punchy, funny, musically exciting, visually stimulating and on message. Easy, right?

Mark Henning is an executive director – media and digital at Kantar Millward Brown


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