Gen-Z and Marketing – How to Appeal

Business Services

Advertising has never been more ubiquitous. On a daily basis, the average person is exposed to hundreds of ads every day on bus stops, their web browsers, and while watching the telly. A new paper has thrown a spanner in the works, however, describing the way in which Gen Z is turning off from ads wherever possible.

Gen Z Behaviour

Coming from this cohort myself (those born between 1997 and 2012), it is interesting to see parallels in the behaviour recorded in the report and my own. For instance, 99% of respondents said they would skip an advert if given the option to do so. This absolutely rings true to me – hitting the ‘skip ad’ button in the bottom-right corner of the screen in YouTube is practically muscle memory for me now.

Further to this, 63% opted to remove ads all together using some form of ad blocker. This is more extreme but incredibly easy to do, making for a much cleaner online browsing experience.


Another key finding was that 84% of respondents said they had lost faith in influencers. Once the posterchild for online advertising, influencers are now as distrusted by consumers as the brands they are promoting, somewhat negating their purpose.

Many have come to see influencer-based advertisements as disingenuous and unauthentic; paid-for opinions dressed up as original ones. They often feel like an advert in disguise, one that’s pretending to be something useful and not just a cash grab.

Word of Mouth in the Tech Age

Interestingly, 86% of respondents said they would buy something on the recommendation of a friend. While this may seem an obvious statement, when put in the context of the previous statistics it serves to highlight the importance of social trust we place in our transactions, be they financial or otherwise.

We trust our friends because we know them and likely share a value system with them. Because of this, we trust their judgement on a recommendation; they have nothing to gain from the recommendation.

In this world of advert ubiquity, a voice you can trust who isn’t out to gain anything from you is proving one of the most powerful forms of influencer a person could have.

Final thoughts

It is easy to see why consumers would want to shut themselves off from every advert they can. In essence, it is media consumption that we didn’t consent to. It is therefore the job of advertisers to now lessen this reaction as much as possible. Being aware of the value of authenticity will be key to tackling the younger generations, how advertisers will tackle this will be the subject of debate for years to come.

We’re already starting to see the beginnings of on TikTok, where large companies – think national supermarkets and even airplane companies – have taken to letting their younger (Gen-Z savvy) employees take the reigns in their advertising effort. The result in deliberately low-budget, poor-quality, and sometimes non-sensical content that sometimes hits and sometimes misses, walking a fine line between charmingly relatable and cringe corporate.

But such is the way with marketing. New trends come and go like the coming and going of Prime Ministers in the UK – oh, wait – I think I’ve called that one a bit early.

The best advertising has always been disruptive,” said Bulbshare founder and CEO Matt Hay. “It should be difficult to ignore. But today’s brands face the very real danger of being part of an indistinct but annoying wall of noise

By Rebecca Garland on 07/06/2022