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How advertising works: engaging with Gen Z

Shaun Austin Head of Media 31/01/2023

We recently hosted a webinar where our experts Josephine Handsome, Head of the Youth Practice at Savanta, and Shaun Austin, Head of Media, joined forces to discuss how advertising works through the lens of Gen Z.

We’ve outlined some of the key insights below; to hear more, you can watch the full webinar recording here.

Many Gen Zs have navigated most of their lives in an increasingly progressive landscape, where being politically involved is admirable, and speaking up on social issues is encouraged.

Essentially, ESOV is ensuring your share of ad-spend (relative to competitors) is greater than your market share. Although, as the current economic landscape hints at a recession, some brands may be inclined to reduce their ad spend as a cost-saving measure. However, a recession often represents an opportunity to increase your share of voice – even if you simply maintain current spend levels, if other brands reduce their ad-spend, your share of voice will increase.

Up the ad-spend to avoid lost sales

Research shows that in times of financial crisis, slashing marketing budgets could be a roadmap to ruin. In fact, Analytic Partners’ ROI Genome Intelligence report 2022: ‘The Rules of Recession-Proofing’, concluded that 60% of brands that increased their media investment during the last recession saw improvements in ROI.

So, instead of making cuts that could harm the long-term growth of a brand, it may be more strategic to redirect marketing budgets towards a more targeted approach.

Getting the most out of your creative

Maximising advertising profitability can be accomplished through a variety of means – but the most significant force that marketers can influence is creative execution, so it’s critical that advertising creative is optimised in order to have the maximum impact.

Our bespoke service for creative development and testing embeds two core areas that will help you understand if your creative is hitting the mark:

  1. Uncovering whether the ad can persuade consumers to buy from/use the brand
  2. Assessing the ad’s ability to influence the brand’s emotional/implicit imagery

A successful ad will have both short and long-term impacts on the brand. The more an ad can generate empathy, demonstrate relevance, and incite interest, the more likely sales can be influenced in the shorter term. The more an ad can influence a brands implicit or emotional imagery, the more a brand can be imbued with emotional imagery for the longer term.

Purchase decisions can be based on logic, though our emotional responses can often override our ability to process rationally and logically. In fact, research from Harvard Business School suggests that 95% of our purchase decision making takes place in the subconscious mind.

Emotion leads to outcomes; the more an ad evokes the right emotions, the easier it is for consumers to make positive brand connections – in turn fuelling the long-term stability of a brand.

The consumers of tomorrow

If Gen Z endorse your brand, you already have a leg up.

As the consumers of tomorrow, with a rapidly increasing purchasing power, Gen Z could play a significant part in influencing the buying habits of the generations that come after them. Moreover, as their presence and share of voice continues to grow – particularly online – they may play an equally powerful role in shaping the opinions and behaviours of consumers in older generations too.

Much of this generation have grown up entirely online, with social media playing a key part in their daily lives. In particular TikTok, which hit the impressive 1 billion users milestone in 2021 – with a quarter of those being younger than 20 years old.

With ad-spend in the digital advertising market on a trajectory to surpass $700 billion this year, social media apps such as TikTok provide an ideal platform for companies to market their products and services.

But it’s not just about reaching the screens of Gen Z – appealing to their interests is the cornerstone of turning over profits from this younger demographic.

Many Gen Zs have navigated most of their lives in an increasingly progressive landscape, where being politically involved is admirable, and speaking up on social issues is encouraged.

According to State of the Youth Nation data, Gen Z are most passionate about the rising cost of living, and climate change. The need for brands to refine ESG initiatives, or recognise societal hardships, is becoming more and more pressing. As such, this generation are the most likely to put pressure on brands to “do better”, drive sustainability and be more ethical.

But understanding this market can be difficult – they are a hard-to-reach demographic, whose individual views are largely varied and nuanced. There is no one-size-fits-all formula to discern this group of consumers – but our State of the Youth Nation tracker serves as a valuable tool for gaining a richer insight into the intricacies of this generation.

In our webinar, Josephine Hansom, Head of the Youth Practice at Savanta, uncovers these intricacies, and considers the most effective ways to connect with Gen Z through passion, realism and escapism.

For more on advertising and how best to connect with Gen Z, you can watch the webinar free below:

How advertising works & how to connect with Gen Z webinar

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