Generation Zero-Party Data: Understanding the Gen Z Value Exchange

In today’s rapidly evolving digital landscape, understanding and connecting with Gen Z has become a top priority for advertisers. This generation, which makes up around 20 percent of the total US population, is reshaping the dynamics of the consumer-brand relationship. Gen Z prioritizes personalized experiences, privacy, inclusivity, and sustainability. They appreciate brands that engage in open dialogue, such as responding directly to them on social media and making efforts to connect with customers on a more personal level. However, they are quick to detect disingenuous attempts by brands to address these notions. To effectively engage Gen Z, advertisers need to adapt their strategies and leverage the power of zero-party data to better understand this generation and foster a meaningful value exchange.

Redefining the Advertising Landscape

Unlike previous generations, Gen Z expects more than just quality products from brands. According to a consumer sentiment survey by NCSolutions, loyalty to brands providing the best products or value for their budgets is less important to Gen Z compared to other generations. What they truly desire is a value exchange that goes beyond traditional business transactions and creates a sense of purpose. This includes brands that embrace diversity, inclusivity and sustainability. Not to mention, brands that add to a larger societal conversation and get to know their customers personally show a sense of investment in their customers’ lives, establishing a sense of trust.

When a brand’s mission aligns with its own values and beliefs, 27 percent of Gen Z is more inclined to support and remain loyal to purpose-driven brands. For example, 30 percent of Gen Z appreciates brands that practice sustainable business methods and prioritize the environment, while 27 percent are loyal to brands that use sustainable packaging. To establish trust and authenticity, advertisers must genuinely align their brand values with those of Gen Z. But where should they begin?

Gen “Z”ero-Party Data

Compared to older generations, Gen Z has a different perspective on the value exchange. Growing up in an era dominated by data breaches, fake news, and privacy concerns, Gen Z is highly conscious of its digital footprint. Advertisers must respect their privacy and values while striving to understand and engage this younger audience. 

Traditional advertising methods often interrupt and intrude upon their online experiences, resulting in ad-blocking and disengagement. In fact, 58 percent of Gen Z dislike ads that interrupt content and tend to develop a negative perception of the brand as a result. Advertisers need to be aware of this and thoughtfully approach their advertising strategy to reach this generation effectively.

This is where zero-party data comes into play. Zero-party data is information voluntarily provided by consumers and can be gathered in advertising through strategies like surveys within ads. For example, we recently worked with a beverage brand that’s seen a vast amount of consumers switch to alternative beverage options over the course of the past decade or so. In an effort to reeducate consumers about the brand’s sustainability practices (a core reason for consumers choosing alternative options), the brand launched a campaign that targeted eco-conscious Gen Zers. 

Within their advertising campaign, the brand asked “What is your perception of the environmental practices of these farmers?” and gave viewers the option to respond with a range from Very Negative to Very Positive. Based on the viewer’s response, if they indicated a low perception of these farmers’ practices, they’d be served an end card that prompted them to learn more about these farmers’ sustainability practices. 

Once the campaign is wrapped, the brand will be able to gauge whether it helped increase brand lift amongst the Gen Z audience.

Prioritize Personalization

By leveraging zero-party data, advertisers can gain insights into Gen Z’s preferences and deliver personalized experiences that prioritize their needs. This approach empowers Gen Z to control their data while allowing advertisers to gather insights for tailoring campaigns that resonate with this generation’s values, ultimately fostering a genuine and conversational connection between the brand and Gen Z.

As generations grow, their sentiments and preferences evolve over time. To successfully engage this generation, advertisers must continually converse with Gen Z consumers themselves and measure sentiment to adapt their strategies accordingly. Zero-party data provides invaluable insights into these evolving attitudes, preferences, and expectations of Gen Z. When analyzing this data, advertisers can refine their campaigns, track the success of their value exchange efforts, and iterate their approach to better resonate with Gen Z. Personalization is the key to capturing attention and loyalty, and by understanding Gen Z’s preferences, advertisers can tailor their messages and offerings accordingly, ensuring a more meaningful connection.

As Gen Z continues to redefine the consumer-brand relationship, advertisers must evolve their strategies to provide personalized experiences that respect privacy and align with the values of this generation. Harnessing the power of zero-party data in advertising is not just a choice but a strategic imperative, enabling brands to forge deeper, more meaningful connections with consumers while respecting their privacy preferences.

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