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Gen Z - the youth of today

Pierre Gomy

Managing Director

Kantar Millward Brown


Generation Z, aged 16 to 19, are passionate about music, and they love to laugh and follow celebrities online. Funny ads that feature good music or a web celeb are therefore up to twice as likely to be appreciated by this generation than those a little older.

These people also spend a lot of time outdoors, giving brands many opportunities to attract their attention, especially via posters and billboards, which Gen Z feel much more positively about than do older generations.

Gen Zs were born with the internet. They are addicted to their smartphones, and are online for more than five hours a day, on average (with email time on top of that). This compares to about three hours a day for those only a few years older. If you want to reach this generation, mobile is impossible to ignore.

As digital experts, they demand that brands respect their need for control: they do not hesitate to install adblockers (46 percent have blockers on their computers, compared to 30 percent of Gen X and Gen Y), and they ignore ads they find intrusive. They expect the brands to offer them entertaining or useful content while giving them the option to skip or click for more. Brand content must be carefully created to integrate with the communications platforms being used.

Gen Zs fully understand that their data is widely used, and they are more protective of it than older generations. Brands must therefore be transparent about their data policies, and use data only in a way that benefits the consumer.

The values of Gen Z are complex. This is a highly narcissistic generation (19 percent love to take selfies, versus just 5 percent of Gen X and Gen Y), yet they are also concerned about those around them, with a strong interest in societal and environmental issues, such as organic, Fairtrade and Made in France.

But while Gen Z is the digital generation, brands must not fall into the trap of allocating 100 percent of budgets to digital. Brands will find success with Gen Z depending on their ability to find a balance between traditional and digital media, and to benefit from synergies between the two.