Gen Z Advertising

December 21, 2021

By: Hannah Yang

Most of the ads that I encounter today are through social media and internet platforms—YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, and others. Out of those, almost half of them are annoying, clogging my feed with irrelevant products or lazy advertising. In an age when Gen Z are on social media almost five hours a day, how do you make ads that stand out amongst the clutter? 

While I usually skip any ads I can, sneaky ads are harder to avoid. This means you should be incorporating your product naturally into content, most likely through social media influencers. Because Gen Z’s definition of celebrity is broad, influencer ads are just as (if not more) effective than celebrity ads. The product may seem more trustworthy or attainable to a normal Gen Zer. It’s kind of like word-of-mouth recommendations, just on a larger scale. 

Gen Z also trusts influencers to own or advertise things that will fit certain lifestyles or “aesthetics.” There are many communities and identities within Gen Z, and if you’re trying to sell something to a niche group, a good way to advertise your product is to have influencers (whether implicit or explicit) within those communities use your product. This is how many smaller Gen-Z-owned independent companies gain a following: they’ll send their products to Gen-Z TikTokers (huge following not needed) that match their brand image, and the TikTokers’ followers will learn about the product. 

Gen Z also likes transparency, so an upfront ad isn’t always annoying. The one catch is, it’ll work better if coming from a fellow Gen Zer. We have a healthy distrust of celebrities and big companies, so having a regular person show the product might work better for Gen Z. Even though an #ad might deter some people, ads where the product is well explained can gain Gen Z’s trust.  

In terms of the best mode for advertising, larger platforms like YouTube will reach a wider range of people. But when you’re trying to target a certain group of Gen Zers, it’s easier to find communities on sites like TikTok and Instagram. Instagram is one of the slower social medias, in terms of trends and viral content. TikTok is much faster, with products going viral and selling out within days. The trends aren’t just limited to the big cities. When the Burt’s Bees tinted lip balms went viral on TikTok, they were sold out at my local Target. 

As always, Gen Z can tell you best what ads they’ll skip or watch. Work with Adolescent and their Gen-Z team to learn how to better advertise to Gen Z.