June 22, 2023
June 22, 2023

What Does Gen Z Want From Brands?

How brands can effectively market to a generation with US $853 billion in global spending power.

Generation Z are not kids anymore. In fact, they’re the new generation of consumers that big brands, medium and small businesses, and marketers need to think about. With an estimated collective buying power of US$463 billion in the US alone, and US$853 billion on a global level (that’s a whole lot of buying power!), business owners and marketers are starting to take notice.

How to Market to Gen Z

The sell here isn’t that you need to market to Gen Z, but how you need to market to Gen Z. Unlike the generations before them, these consumers are digital natives who are growing up in different times, including the pandemic disrupting major life events like graduations and first jobs. 

Gen Z requires an updated media and communication planning strategy that’s not only authentic, but relevant to the lives they live. According to findings from our recent research conducted in partnership with Omnicom Media Group’s (OMG) Global Research team, context matters for this generation as well as how brands show up through messaging and media selection. 

If brands nail these two concepts, they’re already winning. Don’t worry, it's not a complete redrawing of the plan but rather a meaningful adjustment in your planning process that will help you move the needle among Gen Z.

And if your business is of the small or medium variety, you’ll still find some useful tips in this blog post — so stick with us.

Gen Z’s Content Consumption

Yes, we all know that this generation consumes more digital content than other generations. One of our new key findings from our recent study was simply “why” that is the case. 

An analysis of motivation drivers revealed a far more complex relationship with digital and social content than in other generations. Content consumption by Gen Z is driven by a desire to keep up-to-date, and this generation seeks content that aligns with their values and lifts their spirits and engagement, while non-Gen Zers' motivations were less complex, with more emphasis on keeping up with others and with current events.

Snapchat Works for Gen Z

If they have such high expectations from content, are they happy with any platform at all? The simple answer is yes. Snapchat delivers on the emotions that Gen Z seeks and it does so consistently across the platform in areas like Discover, Stories, and the Camera. 

Remember, this is a group that plays a major role in this eye-popping stat: People who use Snapchat open the app 30+ times a day and send 4 billion+ messages, known as Snaps, to close friends and family.

Emotional payoff: What Snapchatters want to feel vs what the actually feel, in the context of Snapchat Discover, Stories, and Lenses/Filters

Gen Z Demands More from Brands and Advertising

Nothing gets past these young people! This is a generation that is well-versed in digital marketing, since more of them are engaging in building their personal ‘brand’ online. About three-fourths of Gen Z say that they are more likely to be loyal to a company that speaks to social issues, posts information, or has advertisements about social change.¹

This generation cares about a lot of issues. And this came through across all the markets we studied. 

Gen Z expects brands to be drivers of social change and looks for fair labor practices, inclusivity, and sustainability. There are several ways in which brands can create socially impactful content that focuses on how the people, environment and product are treated. Diversity also came out as a big driver of societal impact for this generation — whether in terms of values or ownership.

This is a wave that small and medium businesses can ride too. They can consider ways that their products and services intersect with Gen Z’s values and highlight those messages in their Public Profile content, as well as in their ads. And thanks to Snapchat’s targeting capabilities, they can narrow in on Gen Z when creating audiences for their ads.

What values are likely to drive purchases, and which brands Gen Z favors

Relating to Gen Z

Reaching Gen Z is one thing. But to effectively connect and engage with Gen Z well? That’s a whole new playing field. 

Any brand or marketer can get on any app and start targeting Gen Z. After all, Gen Z is digitally native. But to effectively connect and engage with this generation takes a different, more intentional type of platform: Snapchat.

To confirm this sentiment, we investigated whether or not Gen Z is really about what they say they are: an authentic, values-oriented and expressive group. 

To do that, we used a neuroscience measurement called “immersion” to measure reactions to different brand messaging — specifically brand purpose messaging vs. non-brand purpose messaging. Immersion captures attention and emotional resonance through variations in heart rate rhythm collected by smartwatches.²

Guess what? Apparently Gen Z really does walk the walk, and it couldn’t be more evident than on Snapchat, which showed the highest immersion score for brand purpose messaging.

Snapchatters respond more to purpose-driven messaging: Gen Z is more immersed in Brand Purpose Messaging than Non-Brand Purpose Messaging

Getting Brand Purpose Right

When we talk about brand purpose, what do we mean by it? We mean your brand’s “why” — your reason for being and what you stand for beyond just turning a profit —  is what really resonates with Gen Z, especially on Snapchat. 

More specifically, purpose to Gen Z means seeing their values and motivations reflected in the messaging and brands standing up and being involved in social issues and social change that matters to them. Action is important, honesty and transparency is critical, and staying relevant and inclusive is an expectation!

A second expectation is responding to things as they happen — something that Gen Z is used to as digital natives. And responding to these cultural moments in a powerful, authentic manner is therefore equally important.

What About Small and Medium Businesses?

Along with considering their purpose, small and medium businesses — also known as SMBs — must also think about ways to directly connect with their Gen Z customers. A great way to do that is to rely on user-generated content (UGC), which allows their current customers to talk directly to new ones.

For example, consider Moitie, a beauty products business that ships to customers worldwide. CEO and Founder Sima Mosbacher had this to say about UGC: “For ad creative, we’re showing our customers using our product. This has been the best creative approach for us.”

To learn even more about the ways SMBs can market to Gen Z on Snapchat, please see our companion blog post.

About the Research We Conducted

Snapchat partnered with Omnicom Media Group’s (OMG) Global Research team to evaluate the motivations Gen Z has when using different platforms and to understand if they respond to advertising messages differently than older generations. This multimodal research was conducted by the market research consultancy Alter Agents in the US, UK, CA, and AU, and included a quantitative phase among ~2000 consumers, mobile ethnographies with daily diary interviews, immersion research with neuroscience, and interviews with academic experts in generational research.

1 2021-22 Alter agents study commissioned by Snap Inc and Omnicom Media Group (OMG).
2 Immersion has proven to be a predictor of consumer action with 80% accuracy and is viewed as an index score from 0-100, with current video benchmark at 43.