A top priority for marketers in 2017 should be to pay closer attention to the 'mobile-first' Generation Z, so called post-millennials and centennials, as brands increasingly must connect with this discerning group.
With Gen Z numbers now reaching two billion people worldwide - approximately 27% of the world's population - a recent report by Kantar Millward Brown suggests that marketers need to develop creative, mobile content that appeals to the emotions of the Gen Z consumer if they want to be accepted by this key group.
"Gen Z will not only change how brands communicate but also create challenges in how brands demonstrate authenticity and transparency in digital," said Duncan Southgate, global brand director, media & digital, at Kantar Millward Brown, which conducted the report.
"With the landscape ripe for new creativity, marketers will need to closely monitor which formats Gen Z and other consumers find annoying and intrusive, particularly on their first screen, mobile. Alongside this new form of content, marketers also need to deliver a seamless brand experience across all touchpoints.
"Gen Z have grown up in a connected world and are impatient towards disjointed online/offline models that are older than they are - and this group will not adapt," Southgate added.
Further, marketers will have to move away from their current focus on the linear, factual and linguistic in favor of technologies such as augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR); immersive formats that allow for stronger visual imagery. Gen Z will also respond much more than millennials to emotional, musical narratives, creating new opportunities for creativity.
The report suggests that in 2017, the goal should be to focus on tone of voice and delivering a consistent brand experience across touch points that have the most impact and influence. Additionally, marketers should focus on finding the right balance between programmatic targeting and what consumers feel is an intrusive level of messaging.
The report predicts a shift away from simplistic blunt-instrument targeting based on a single input - be it behavior (websites visited, items in a shopping cart), demographics, or stand-alone brand affinity.
Further, studies conducted by Kantar Millward Brown show that synergies can drive 25% of media effectiveness globally and nearly 40% in the Asia-Pacific region. Increasingly, non-TV synergies are emerging, creating new opportunities for advertisers and agencies, to ensure the sum of the media schedule is always greater than its parts.
Further, advertisers and publishers will have to adopt better ad formats and proactively look to engage with consumers on the issue, the current set of ad blocking tools are demonstrating their own lack of authenticity via site performance issues/ content restrictions and the questionable ethics of attempting to make money from the ad units they authorize.
"Vast in number and mobile first, they have come of age in the wake of the global financial crisis and will make new demands of brands that want to earn a place in their lives. Understanding the nuances of Gen Z should be a priority for marketers as they work out how their communications and the tools that power them will need to adapt in the years ahead," concluded Southgate.