Trend Report: Marketing in a Connected World: How to Attract the Attention of Gen Z

At a time when we have access to more information than ever, with connected NZ consumers owning more than three devices each and spending over four hours a day on these devices, the question is no longer are we reaching consumers, but how we engage and connect with them to make a meaningful impression.

Information overload is real and consumers are reacting, none more so than Generation Z, those born between 1997 and 2011. GenZs, also known as Post-Millennials or the iGeneration, make up 27% of the world’s population and are the first generation to not know life without the internet. For them, the internet is not just a source of information, it is the basis of their social interaction. Media spend has reflected this change in consumer behaviour, with internet spend sky rocketing.


However, while GenZs are continually on their smartphones, they are also becoming savvier in how they consume information. Speed and reliability are important factors in choosing a preferred social networking platform and they have high expectations on content – they click fast, click often and block easily. GenZ are generally less receptive to advertising in all formats. They are frugal and brand wary, but also industrious and collaborative. They expect privacy but also demand transparency from brands.

So how do we attract their attention?

1. Create a worthwhile value exchange.

We need to use the multiple platforms that are available to co-create shared experiences between brand and consumers. To engage with GenZs, there needs to be a shift of focus to right brained influence – more emotive, entertaining, imaginative and creative. We need to think augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), and interactive content that offers immediacy and control. Research shows that music and being funny helps too.

2. The future is content.

Conventional TV and video is still very much alive with 73% of consumers watching, however GenZs are leading the way in multi-screening – 74% of consumers are also watching free online videos. Significantly, 66% of consumers are watching videos on social networks, that is, videos that appear in their social feed, not content that they have sought out but content that has been served to them by an algorithmic understanding of content they may like.


To capitalise on this we need to think more about branded content, ensuring content is more engaging and personally relevant through the likes of native content, user-generated content and taking advantage of the explosion of video content. Experimentation is strongly encouraged with creativity coming from new technologies such as Facebook Live and 360 video.

3. Brand experience takes centre stage.

With so many channels to reach the GenZ consumer, it’s too easy for brands to annoy with an inconsistent experience or by adapting a “one size fits all” approach. Nearly a third of consumers globally report that brands don’t deliver the same experience online as they do offline.

To successfully engage with GenZ, brand stories will be built on delivering a consistent experience across multiple touchpoints, and will need to bring their story to life by inviting consumers into the story. Technology will allow us to immerse ourselves in the story in more ways than ever before.

CASE STUDY: Tinnyvision by NZTA

NZTA went beyond a traditional marketing campaign when they utilised the “stories” feature of Snapchat to connect with an elusive, predominantly GenZ, audience on the dangers of driving while high. The campaign was authentic to NZTA’s purpose, it was immersive, and importantly, a success, with 98% of the 10,000+ young followers following to the end.  Read the full case study

4. Tailor the message to the moment.

There is a move towards focusing on the “moment” – more touch points means more opportunity to customise the message with relevant adverts that feel personal and deliver great value. Currently, consumers feel stalked by advertisers, with 36% of New Zealanders feeling like they are being constantly followed by brand advertising online, that are frequently for the mattress that we bought two weeks ago.

In 2017, marketers will need to focus on striking the right balance between precision and intrusion; using the right media, the right creative with the right message at the right moment. With the advent of multi-screening and the high usage of on demand TV, the old notion of “prime time” no longer exists, it’s more about the prime time for your brand.


Aiden Colmar Brunton.JPG

Aiden Regan is National Qualitative Director at Colmar Brunton in New Zealand.  A versatile strategic thinker, he has recently overseen major projects in the media, FMCG, retail and manufacturing sectors.  He has particular expertise in media strategy, where his work has focused on understanding how print and online readers (and advertisers) behave and think, helping refine the content, look and feel of print and digital products. Aiden holds a Master’s degree in Politics from Newcastle University, England.

                           Aiden works closely with Fairfax Media, providing insight and guidance with Fairfax Media products and campaigns.