Kids, Ads, and Educators (Advertising to Generation Z)

advertising to generation z

Last week, we looked at the rise of the Internet celebrity.  These are people who have become famous, mostly with Generation Z, through new media platforms such as YouTube, SnapChat, and Instagram.  One of the characteristics of an Instaceleb is his/her ability to connect with their fan base on a personal level.  As a result of that connection, these social stars can be pretty influential when it comes to retail brands.  Let’s shift our focus a bit and take a look at how these folks play a role in advertising to Generation Z.

Influence and Impact

The advertising world has taken notice of how web celebrities interact with their fans.  I’ve done quite a bit of research over the last few weeks reading various articles, blog posts, and strategies when advertising to Generation Z.   I’ve linked to many of those pieces below if you’d like to read them for yourself.  Several trends began to appear.  I’ve highlighted those trends below.

  • Centennials (Gen Z) have arrived.  Retailers are shifting their advertising strategies away from Millennials to focus on the teens and young adults of this new generation.
  • Social media, and subsequently, those instacelebs we talked about last week have a tremendous reach with Generation Z.  In a recent consumer study, 4 out of 5 Generation Zers expressed that social media influenced their purchasing decisions.
  • Ads are viewed as disruptive and annoying, especially those on their smartphone.  Members of this group are far more likely to take action to avoid ads, like physically looking away, opening another app, or using apps to block ads.  Much of this goes back to the 8-second filter discussed in a previous post.
  • They are much more likely than previous generations to ask for the opinions of friends and family before making a purchase.  They also rely heavily on online reviews when selecting a product.
  • They like choices.  They want to be able to vote or have the opportunity to play a part in the outcome of a story or event.
  • They have grown up watching the successes and failures of Millennials.  Centennials are taking steps to avoid those mistakes at an early age.  For example, they tend to be smarter with their money when it comes to debt and savings. 29% believe that personal debt should be reserved for a few select items and 23% think it should be avoided at all costs.

There’s a whole new style of advertising that is beginning to take shape, with the idea that Centennials have replaced Millennials as the target audience.  Early campaigns have found success by telling stories through animation and catchy songs where the product is just part of the story.  There’s a great example of this in a recent Oreo commercial.  The Oreo isn’t being pushed as a product you should buy.  It’s merely the catalyst for an imagination filled adventure.   

Similarly, some of the most popular web companies are tracking user’s browsing data as a way to sell products.  Most people are aware of that fact, but the larger story may surprise you. We’ll take a deep dive into that next week.

What does this mean to parents?

Society is no stranger to advertisements. The ad industry in America began to take shape in the 1920s.  The 1960s brought a “creation revolution” to the expanding commercial enterprise.  Primarily, all of us have grown up in a time in history where advertisements were commonplace: commercials, newspaper and magazine ads, and more recently, online advertisements.   When we were growing up, most businesses were not attempting to disguise the advertisements though.  Ads were very clearly, ads.  Companies also lacked the data insights compiled from billions of consumers and their purchases, so advertisements had to be generic to capture a broad audience.   

As a parent, I think it is essential that children are aware of how modern advertising works. Advertising to Generation Z is becoming a primary focus for many organizations. I want my children to see advertising for what it is so that they can make their own choices.  

What does this mean to educators?

For educators, one of the most significant notions from the list above is that Generation Z loves to have choices.  They like knowing that their vote can determine an outcome.  In K-12 education, we often talk about personalizing learning.  What better way to personalize than to give students a choice?  This could be something simple where the student can select from different options for completing an assignment.  Another idea would be to let the students vote on the lesson or task for the day.  A third idea, based on the information above, would be to ask students to design an advertisement that they don’t believe would be annoying or intrusive.  It would encourage them to be creative and to think critically about a problem that most of them deal with on a daily basis.



Do you want to receive a weekly email with information about parenting in a digital age? 
Help @ Home is free and is available to anyone. While the project is currently being sponsored by the Chagrin Falls Exempted Village School District, you DO NOT have students in the district to sign up for this weekly communication.