Gen Z demands advertisers give them content they can create with, says Direction First

“Generation Z is absolutely driven by efficiency,” said Erica van Lieven, managing director, Direction First in her presentation today What Gen Z Really Thinks About Your Brand at Mumbrella 360.

Direction First call Gen Z the ‘post-marketing generation’. The agency conducted an exclusive study for 360 into the habits of Gen Z which found that financial stability, innovation, sustainability, equality and efficiency are among the market’s most important values.

Teenage girls (16-17) shopping and using cell phone --- Image by © Peter M. Fisher/Corbis

Incorporating these elements into marketing strategies is imperative to a successful advertising campaign, claimed Direction First’s insights director, Matthew Jorgenson, who co-hosted the seminar with van Lieven.

This is partly why social media platforms which share images are so popular – because they convey meaning more quickly and efficiently than text. Consequently, product  utility is what inspires customer loyalty in Gen Z far more than brand image.

Erica van Lieven - direction first - colour

van Lieven: “Social media platforms convey meaning quickly”

“They will look for the simplest and fastest way to create and build whatever it is they want in their life,” claims van Lieven.

“They don’t like anything that’s ‘airbrushed’. Time and again, we’ve noticed that anything that’s fake, that’s airbrushed, that doesn’t ring true, they’ll question, they’ll kick it out, they won’t connect with it.”

Matthew Jorgenson - Directon First

Jorgensen: Create opportunities don’t preach

The study found that diverse and inspirational advertisements were most favoured by participants.

“If we can connect them with ads that inspire it helps to create a personality, and also an entrepreneurial spirit around our brands,” said.

But relinquishing control will be the greatest challenge for the marketing industry. With the rise of user-generated content, Gen Z does not engage with “traditional controllable market spaces” like free-to-air television.

To reach them, Jorgensen recommends stepping into their world and playing by their rules of creating entertaining content they can engage with, rather than insincere and didactic advertisements.

“For many years marketers have always thought, ‘We own the strategy, we own the direction, we say what goes all the way’. And I don’t think we’ve ever had as much control as we thought we had, as marketers, and I think now we pretty much have even less control than we’ve ever had in the past.”

“Breaking out of that corporate shell and rethinking the way we apply our corporate values and they way we communicate is really essential if we’re going to ‘play’ with Gen Z on their terms.”


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