Key Points

  • Prioritize Values over Demographics: Understanding your target audience's passions (anime, gaming, sports) and causes (social impact) is key for deeper connections.
  • Subcultures Rule: Ditch broad outreach, and tailor strategies to specific niches and groups where Generation Z (Gen Z) thrives.
  • Beyond Screens: Create unique, immersive experiences, such as those within the metaverse, to offer real value.
  • Authenticity Matters: Build trust by being honest and transparent, ensuring your message aligns with your audience's values.

With every new generation comes monumental change.

It's in our ideals, cultural concepts, and even language. Like a clock turning its hands past 12 twice a day, we can count on the younger generation to upend expectations and set new standards as they age up into young adults and carve out their place in society.

This should come as no surprise. 

Even so, if you're an advertiser trying to reach this new generation, Gen Z in particular, playing out the same strategies from a decade ago will undoubtedly fall flat. And we're in the market of reaching out and making an impact. Stale strategies? They just won't work.

Gen Z is looking for authenticity. They're die-hard subscribers to niche subcultures. They build their personalities around their passions. More importantly, though, Gen Z is digital first and no stranger to traditional advertising techniques.

So, how can brands and advertisers, large and small, reach Generation Z?

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Beyond Demographics: Understanding Generation Z Values

First, let's dispel a common misconception about Gen Z marketing and advertising: they don't hate ads.

Research from the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) shows that nearly 80% of people support a free and open ad-supported internet. But the right approach to advertising matters.

Above all else, the average Gen Zer is looking for authenticity.

They want to see brands that offer real value and sincerity in the way they communicate. Think of it as a two-way dialogue between friends. It's not talking down, it's not talking to; it's talking with your target audience.

This means adapting strategies to focus on individual groups. Instead of Gen Z as a whole, hone in on unique subcultures that align with a specific brand identity. 

Causes and interests also drive this generation. Not only is Gen Z radically inclusive, but they often don't distinguish between friends they meet online versus those in the physical world. Considering many had a connected device in their hands before they could even walk, Gen Z lives and breathes the Internet.

Technology allows this high level of digital mobilization to occur, and it's having a huge impact on what is important to Gen Zers.

Instead of economic fault lines or educational divides, like Millennials and Baby Boomers believe drive community growth, 66% of Gen Zers see causes and interests as the glue that binds communities together.

The Power of Subcultures

This new generation lives in subcultural spaces. It's less about traditional demographics and more focused on passions.

Are you an anime fan? Well, there's a group for you. Interested in film? Don't fret; you'll find your tribe in no time. Gaming? Who doesn't play? To reach Gen Zers, advertisers need to start learning the ins and outs of specific subculture groups, digging even deeper into each niche, and shifting strategies to meet these new, unique demands.

There are always new interests on the horizon.

Take a look at real estate. While this might seem like a boring topic for the younger generation to flock to, 72% of Gen Zers want to own a home one day. When you go to social media platforms like TikTok, you'll see tons of user-generated content (UGC) targeting this distinct and growing subculture.

As you might imagine, if you can tap into this group effectively, you can make an impact.

Brands that are savvy enough to get into these subcultures, speak the language, and adapt to each group's unique norms will certainly find success.

Gen Zers are forming their brand preferences now. Unfortunately, though, they don't have the same level of brand loyalty as older generations like millennials. Only 30% of Gen Zers say they would fall back on their go-to brand when making a purchase.

To make the most out of this generation, advertisers need to not only hone down on the cultural uniqueness of each target group but adapt and shift how they approach Gen Z consumers to add a level of flexibility and growth to their advertising strategies. Moreover, brands need to show they have credibility and relevance.

Trying to get them early and hook them for life is now an archaic strategy. Brands need to grow as Gen Z grows and constantly adapt to change. More importantly, they need to offer value, and that means crafting standout, memorable experiences.

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Beyond the Screen: Engaging Gen Z Through Experiences

When it comes to effectively engaging with the Gen Z audience, standard banner ads, which in many cases are incredibly effective, simply aren't the best option. Most Gen Zers are not going to buy something only because they saw an ad for it. They've seen ads all their lives, which has made them hyper-aware of traditional advertising practices.

When it comes to this particular generation, there needs to be substance and value to stand out.

Take cause-based content marketing. 84% of Gen Z users believe companies should address environmental issues and take social responsibility. Their consumption is anchored in ethics. 

With access to the Internet, they also have all the information they need to craft a well-informed opinion for every purchase. Around 65% try to learn the origins of anything they purchase, with 80% refusing to purchase from brands soaked in scandals.

This generation is looking at companies to develop cause-based ad campaigns that are rooted in tangible and transparent value. It's not enough to talk; you have to follow through.

But value is more than just social, political, and environmental issues. It can also come from experience. Creating unique and engaging experiences can be a powerful way to connect with Gen Z. Take metaverse platforms like Roblox or Fortnite.

What's happening in the digital world is just as important as the physical.

56% of Gen Z Roblox players say styling their avatar is just as important as styling themselves in the mirror before they head off to school, with three in four saying digital fashions from recognizable brands are important.

Advertisers can take advantage of this new digital-first generation by meeting them in the metaverse. Creating digital items, crafting in-game missions, and even interactive advertising can be winning plays.

Looking Forward: Adapting to the Evolving Gen Z Landscape

Reaching Gen Z requires a shift in perspective. Forget demographics; focus on values and passions. Adapt advertising strategies to match the uniqueness of specific subcultures. When it comes to actual creative assets, go beyond screen and craft experiences that they can't get anywhere else.

Remember that authenticity matters. Gen Z craves genuine communication and real value. Be transparent, build trust, and speak their language.

Gen Z is the future. 

When you understand their unique values and preferences, you can build lasting relationships and a marketing strategy that will succeed for years to come.

If you're searching for a partner in this new era of advertising, Playwire has your back.

We work with all kinds of brands and publishers, across all the most important Gen Z desired verticals including but not limited to real estate, gaming, and entertainment. We consistently deliver effective advertising strategies, such as award-winning immersive experiences and metaverse campaigns, that meet a Gen Z audience on their terms. Not to mention, Playwire is KidSafe+ certified and COPPA-compliant so you can rest assured that your brand is safe in its advertising strategies.

Get in touch with the team to learn more about how we can help you find success in this new digital-first environment.

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