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Gen Z Despises Ads – How Do You Reach Them?

Gen Z may be the teenagers of today, but there’s no denying they are the car buyers of tomorrow. With that in mind, it’s important to understand what kind of advertising best appeals to this generation. For marketers to know their ad dollars are well spent, it pays to consult the research.

A recent report from the digital consumer research firm Bulbshare provides insights from thousands of consumers around the world. The startling find? Gen Z detests traditional advertising.

What Defines Gen Z

Before we dig into the numbers, let’s look at a few traits that define the 1997-2012 birthyear generation. Most distinctly, people in this generation are considered digital natives. They weren’t alive to witness the transition from analog to digital. Rather than seeing the internet as an advancement or a luxury, to them it has always been an essential part of modern life. Expanding on this, Gen Z also highly values privacy. They have seen the consequences of unwise forum comments and Facebook posts from politicians and celebrities and understand the importance of being prudent online.

Gen Z’s Receptiveness to Advertising

The best advertising has always been disruptive, but Gen Z is especially intolerant of ads. Bulbshare’s report found some illuminating stats on Gen Z in this respect. On average, 99% will hit skip on an ad if it is an option. Nearly two-thirds also use ad blockers to avoid online ads. Nearly 75% of these consumers feel bombarded with ads, noting that they feel irritated at seeing them.

Some savvy brands have attempted to bridge the gap between generations who respond well to advertising and those who abhor it. Influencer marketing has exploded in popularity, with brands using high-profile figures online to increase their credibility. However, it seems Gen Z is catching on. Bulbshare’s research shows that 84% of Gen Z consumers have lost faith in influencers. Nearly the same percentage would be more likely to buy a product recommended by a friend versus a paid influencer.

Knowing what we do now, how can marketers ensure they’re reaching the up-and-coming generation of buyers?

Gaining Trust Among Gen Z

Knowing that ads don’t resonate as well with Gen Z , there are two important areas automotive marketers can lean into instead. The first is reputation management. These consumers are looking for genuine opinions, reviews, and recommendations. One of the first places they will look is your Google Business Profile. Social media reviews can be just as important. If you’re not actively seeking out new reviews and responding to current ones, you are missing a huge opportunity to impact these buyers.

Secondly, consumer-generated content fulfills a similar function as authentic recommendations. That’s why it is essential to have a professional social media management team keeping an eye on any mentions of your brand, along with comments and tagged posts. If customers post a photo with their new vehicle and mention your dealership, make sure to share this as a way of touting your credibility. It will resonate much more with Gen Z than self-promotion ever could.

Overall, it’s important to not adjust your marketing strategy too much to appease Gen Z. While these consumers are an important market segment, the vast majority of prime buyers are still highly receptive to traditional advertising techniques. A well-balanced marketing strategy will include both regular advertising and the more understated techniques mentioned here.

To ensure you have a well-rounded marketing strategy, request a free digital audit from Strong Automotive Merchandising.


by John Paul Strong

John Paul Strong

John Paul Strong combines his two decades of automotive marketing experience with a team of more than 150 professionals as owner and CEO of Strong Automotive.

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