Tech And Youth: How Can Brands Use VR & AR Effectively To Connect With Young People

March 24, 2024·5 min read

Gen Z has spoken: Alter reality, but don’t dupe it.

The future of augmented and virtual reality sits, teetering, at the precipice of innovation; a brand new way to bring immersion to the digital world, AR/VR is positioned to change the way we shop, work, learn, and consume across industries - across our daily lives, even. Its next great frontier? Advertising - specifically to Gen Z.

Social media, E-Commerce and AR/VR

The intersection of social media and e-commerce is a posed to be a lucrative one - and it should be, given that this is where Gen Z shopping primarily concentrates. In that arena, AR/VR is the best try-before-you-buy on the market and an increasingly desired feature for the generation that drives numbers on product review content across the internet (because what’s more persuasive than an unboxing video?). The desire to experience a product second-hand is palpable. It is also quantifiable - according to a 16,000-user Snapchat survey, 92 percent of Gen Z consumers want AR functionality across e-commerce. Over half say that ads utilizing the feature are more likely to get their click. 

Snapchat has been amongst the most aggressive to see AR drive commerce on its platform - for now. But the AR/VR landscape is fast-evolving, and brands have been quick to leverage the technology to reach the world’s most online generation. They’re willing to give Gen Z what they want most: a feature that brings tangibility to their digital experiences - without challenging the IRL ones.

What Gen Z has to say about AR/VR

Tanmay, 22: "…Imagine front-row seats at a concert that defies the laws of physics, where the band is a kaleidoscope of digital avatars and the mosh pit is a swirling nebula of stardust. Or picture yourself stepping into a Van Gogh painting, the swirling brushstrokes coming alive as you wander through the vibrant landscapes... Imagine attending a masterclass hosted by historical figures, or dissecting a virtual frog in biology class without the squeam factor… I, for one, am eager to dive in and explore every corner of this mind-bending new frontier."

Mariana, 19: "I think using technology to simulate real life experiences and interactions has its advantages. For those who are not able to attend these events in real time, using VR to facilitate these interactions could be incredibly helpful. However, I'm not sure if it could ever replace those real events."

Jola, 23: "It’s bad enough that most of our lives and attention is online, having social events such as concerts, classes etc, will disconnect humans all together and make us out of touch with reality. You cannot replace real life human contact. And the effects and damages of that will be evident in all areas of our lives. We are not in a pandemic anymore, we need to move away from opting for virtual versions of things."

Carolyn, 25: "I am very excited and optimistic about all that the Metaverse has to offer, like events, lectures, even shopping! The future will be driven by AI & VR, so specifically speaking about VR, it's time to embrace the narrative & start exploring this virtual landscape!"


What Gen Z doesn’t like? Digital overstimulation, connectivity without intention, and VR experiences that feel like a pixelated knock-off of real life.

What Gen Z wants you to know: VR is most impactful when leveraged to create experiences that innovate, not simulate - we want new ways to visualize what we’ve already seen, and engage with products in an adaptable, custom way.

What Your Brand Can Do With It

It's impossible to replace IRL experiences with AR/VR -  real life is not something that can be simulated, and Gen Z doesn’t want it to be. What impacts us is AR/VR’s ability to bring entirely new ways of experiencing things directly to us, ideally evolving the way we can engage in a product or service. Here are a couple of ways that brands have done it out in the world:

Be a fly on the wall in the Patron distillery (or more accurately, a bee). 

Thomas Cook wants you to take your vacation for a test drive in VR. 

Happy Googles bring new VR experiences to every meal.