Tips to understanding Gen Z in 2017

So, while a lot of marketers are still trying to master on how to attract the Millennial, here comes the less known but equally critical group of target audience - the generation Z (Gen Z). Gen Z, or those born between 1997 and 2011, now accounts for over a quarter or about 27% of the world’s population.

In fact for 2017, your top of the marketing to-do-list should be gaining a rapid understanding of the needs, aspirations and behaviours of Gen Z said global research agency Kantar Millward Brown's latest report Annual Digital & Media Predictions.  Gen Z are also essentially the mobile first generation who totals a staggering two billion people worldwide now, accounting for more than a quarter or about 27% of the world’s population.

Duncan Southgate, global brand director of media and digital at Kantar Millward Brown said Gen Z will not only change how brands communicate but also create challenges in how brands demonstrate authenticity and transparency in digital.

He added:

Strategies that are likely to be successful include investment in digital platforms that allow consumers to co-create a shared brand experience. Gen Z will be hands-on – they want to try it, take it apart and re-create it.

Besides that, to be accepted by and thrive among the post-millennials' Gen Z consumers, marketers and brands will need to develop creative content that appeals to the imagination and emotions of this key group.

They will have to be more open, share their story, their purpose and details of their production processes to allow Gen Z, to determine if a brand’s values match their own.

Not only that, marketers are also advised to move away from their current focus on the linear, factual and linguistic but instead, in favour of digital content that appeals to the imagination via technologies such as Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR) and immersive formats that allow for stronger visual imagery.

“This will require a new approach to branded content. With the landscape ripe for new creativity, marketers will need to closely monitor which formats Gen Z and other consumers find annoying and intrusive, particularly on their first screen, mobile," said Southgate.

Alongside this new form of content, Southgate added that marketers also need to deliver a seamless brand experience across all touchpoints:

Gen Z have grown up in a connected world and are impatient towards disjointed online or offline models that are older than they are – and this group will not adapt.

In fact, Gen Z puts the focus on a new generation of consumers who are different to their predecessors. Vast in number and mobile first, they have come of age in the wake of the global financial crisis and will make new demands of brands that want to earn a place in their lives.

That is why, understanding the nuances of Gen Z should be a priority for marketers in 2017 as they work out how their communications and the tools that power them will need to adapt in the years ahead, Southgate added.

Kantar Millward Brown also anticipates other important changes, including:

  • Balancing targeting and intrusionIn 2017, marketers will focus on finding the right balance between programmatic targeting and what consumers feel is an intrusive level of messaging. Advertisers and their agencies will use a greater mix of audience targeting data based on brand affinity, interests and the appropriate demographics. Kantar Millward Brown expects to see a shift away from simplistic blunt-instrument targeting based on a single input – be it behavior (websites visited, items in a shopping cart), demographics, or stand-alone brand affinity.
  • More media synergiesMarketers will wake up to the growing significance of media synergies in 2017, and their potential to maximise brand and sales impact. CrossMedia studies conducted by Kantar Millward Brown show that synergies can drive 25% of media effectiveness globally and nearly 40% in the Asia Pacific region. Increasingly, non-TV synergies are emerging, creating new opportunities for advertisers and agencies, to ensure the sum of the media schedule is always greater than its parts.
  • Positive action to deter ad blockingThe good news for brands is that the rising tide of ad blocking could be on the turn. While advertisers and publishers will have to adopt better ad formats and proactively look to engage with consumers on the issue, the current set of ad blocking tools are demonstrating their own lack of authenticity via site performance issues or content restrictions and the questionable ethics of attempting to make money from the ad units they authorise.