Gen-Z Loves Branded Content

Gen-Z will be the first generation to grow up completely surrounded by social media and technology since birth. Let that sink in. The generation, which was born after 1996, accounts for 61 million people in the U.S., a number that’s already larger than Generation X and two-thirds the size of the baby boomers.

Nowadays, the average American spends a whopping 12 hours per day digesting digital media. This shift towards consuming more and more online media is largely due to the shift in population—Millennials and Gen-Z are challenging companies to think differently. Businesses can no longer stick to their old ways of creating media and content. With these new shifts, come new attitudes.

As Gen-Z begins to establish the way they want to receive and engage with media, they’re also re-establishing what types of media they want. Here’s what’s shifting:

They Want Authenticitybrand ambassador team marketing SK Energy on campus

As resentment towards intrusive marketing tactics deepen, demand for more “authentic” and shareable content is rapidly increasing. If you want to gain the attention of Millennials and Gen-Z, use the power and appeal of branded content, a progressive form of advertising that uses original content as a means of creating brand awareness and aligning your company with certain values.

Branded content is more than a buzzword. We are living in a world where, due to easily accessible information, there are 14-year-olds with political views and beliefs—and they’re making their voices heard! Gen-Z stands for diversity, equality, individuality, creativity, and justice. Want these young people to buy your product? Get them to buy into your brand first. The most promising way you can do that is by showing them that you believe in what they believe in, and meaning it.

According to Google’s research, consumers choose the brands that engage them on their passions 42% more often than they do with brands that simply urge them to buy the product. Research also proves that the use of branded content is the best way to establish this type of connection.

They Hate Online Ads

These young people are making it clear—they hate ads! In 2018, 30% of all internet users opted to block online ads and 69% of Gen-Z already avoid ads. And who could blame them? Online ads are typically rooted in terrible end-user experiences.

They’re a video generation, yet advertisers continue to push ads to them via videoless, noninteractive mediums. These young adults are using ad blockers and skipping as much content as they can in an attempt to cut through the clutter.

They Love Videos

Fifty-three percent of online viewers watch videos to be inspired or entertained, and YouTube is the number one platform 18-34 year olds use to explore their passions. Stacy DeBroff, CEO and founder of Influence-Central, says, “This generation has grown up with instant response as its baseline expectation.” Having branded content in the medium Gen-Z likes to receive it (video) is how marketers are going to meet that expectation. Visuals and videos have truly surged, and consumers—particularly Millennials and Gen-Z— have embraced pictures and videos as a way to gather and share information.

All of this goes to show that typical TV and print ads have become a thing of the past. With an increasingly digital world, paired with a rising generation that hates advertisements but love videos, it’s safe to say that a shift toward more engaging, branded, visual media is soon to become a necessity.

They Expect Tailored Content

Express digital marketing used on campus

As the demand for video content continues to grow, marketers must also be aware that the one-size-fits-all approach to their advertising strategies are soon to also become a thing of the past. Running the same video campaign across all digital channels won’t be enough to address Gen-Z’s need for content. A consumer’s attention span for an ad on digital is much shorter than it is for one on TV, which means different story arcs and ways of triggering emotion are needed. Even the part of the screen that viewers focus on while watching a video varies from TVs to laptops to cell phones.

There are vast opportunities that come with the new digital revolution, but there are also new practices and ways of thought that marketers, and businesses alike, must consider. Recognizing and embracing these changes are the only way marketers are going to be able to truly capture the attention of Gen-Z. This is a generation with a set of goals and beliefs that are waiting to be tapped into. These young people want to engage in authentic dialogue and be inspired by the content they’re exposed to. Do your advertisements answer this call?

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How can YMC Help?

Want to engage the coveted Millennial and Gen-Z demographics with branded content? Finding the right partner is key to your success. Here at YMC, we’ve been helping brands connect with 15- to 29-year-old consumers for two decades—and we’d be happy to share our wealth of knowledge with you. Contact us today!

4 Key Differences Between Millennials and Gen-Z

“What is the difference between Millennials and Gen-Z?” That’s a question that has left many marketers scratching their heads. There are differences between the two generations. Big ones, in fact. Marketers need to be conscious of these discrepancies because even though Millennials seem to be the hot topic of conversation, Generation Z is growing their presence and influence. Currently, Gen-Z possess a buying power of $44 billion a year, and they will account for 40% of all consumers by 2020.

Experts say that when it comes to Gen-Z, marketers aren’t going to be able to target them as one homogenous group. So if it’s not smart to bunch Gen-Z together, it’ll be out right foolish to target them with Millennials. Here are the 4 key differences between the two generations that can help you make the right distinctions when targeting these groups.

Gen-Z is More Individualistic and Creative

Gen-Z is social, and they pride themselves on this uniqueness and their collective ability to create change.They’re also not fans of societal norms. In fact, the only norm they conform to is their generation’s tradition of embracing what makes them different from it. They defy gender norms, racial inequality, and any other social construct that attempts to box them in. Everything about Gen-Z screams individuality. And as they claim their independence from what the world wants them to be, they are constantly on the hunt for new artistic and creative ways to express that independence.

Now, why should this matter to you? Well, these young adults are more likely to engage with companies that align with their values and urge to be creative. Marketers should capitalize on opportunities to tap into Gen-Z’s passion of individuality and creativity.

Gen-Z is Less Price Sensitive

Millennials watched their parents run the world bankrupt and then forced them to deal with the ruins. Generation Y knows what it’s like to have everything and then lose everything; the Great Recession of 2008 taught them that. So it’s no wonder why Millennials are so price sensitive.

However, this is not necessarily the case for Gen-Z. Sixty-seven percent of Millennials surveyed said that they would go to the website to get a coupon, whereas only 46% of Gen-Z polled said they would do the same. One theory behind why Gen-Z are less price-conscious stems from the fact that most of them are still being supported by their parent, leaving them less inclined to be price hunters. However, another theory could be related to their desire to express themselves; sometimes it can be hard to put a price on one’s identity.

TRUE Digital Natives

A part of our misconception between Millennials and Gen-Z is that we tend to assert the same level of technical savviness to both generations. We often call Millennials the “digital natives”, but forget they still grew up with landlines, dial-up internet, floppy disks, and cassette tapes. Yes, they’ve seen the extremely rapid progression of technology, but this was still a process for them.

Gen-Z, on the other hand, is made up of the toddlers Apple first began testing usability with. All they’ve ever known is high-speed internet, free wifi and smartphones. 92% of Gen-Z has a digital footprint. They’re comfortable on almost every platform and are more tech savvy than their Millennial counterparts. That’s why we have to acknowledge that they are the true digital natives and are craving digital media.

They’re Techies, but They’re Softies

Millennials have caught a bad rep for being too plugged in since the rise of the digital revolution, and Gen-Z was expected to be just as bad, if not worst. However, Gen-Z has learned from the Millennials’ mistakes. In fact, 53% of Gen-Z value more face-to-face and personal interaction over messaging or emails. Granted, face-to-face doesn’t have to mean in person for Gen-Z. They have become accustomed to using platforms like Facetime, Snapchat, Skype and Google+ Hangouts.

Nevertheless, this desire for more human interaction is bound to gain significance as marketers try to figure out the best way to target this generation. Be prepared to find other ways besides emails and direct messaging to target Gen-Z. They value video content over everything else.

Remember to be both mindful and intentional when targeting Millennials and Gen-Z. It’s not a safe bet to assume that they are one in the same. Economist and historians have separated these two groups for a reason. There are obvious distinctions between them that marketers need to be aware of if they want to target the upcoming Gen-Z population effectively. Their individuality, buying behavior, tech skills, and need for human connection will guide how marketers reach and engage these influential young adults.



Want to engage the coveted Millennial and Gen-Z demographics? Finding the right partner is key to your success. Here at YMC, we’ve been helping brands connect with 15- to 29-year-old consumers for two decades—we’d be happy to share our wealth of knowledge with you. Contact us today!