Gen Z in Southeast Asia are growing up and hard to impress: Study

  • Prefer humorous, interesting ads to augmented reality and celebrities
  • Brands should avoid invasive tactics, with 23% of Gen Z now using ad blockers


Gen Z in Southeast Asia are growing up and hard to impress:  Study


A NEW AdReaction study from Kantar Millward Brown, released today, reveals Gen Z has its own distinct behaviours, attitudes and responses to advertising.

The study, AdReaction: Engaging Gen X, Y and Z is a comprehensive global study of Gen Z, and provides guidance on how marketers can engage more effectively with this increasingly important group.

Despite growing up in a digital age, the results show that Gen Z in Southeast Asia is the hardest age group to reach with advertising.

Their daily mobile usage is lower than that of older generations, as 74% spend more than an hour a day on their mobile device compared to 83% for Gen Y and 77% for Gen X.

They are also consuming less TV, radio and print media, with 52% of Gen Z watching an hour or more of TV each day compared to 66% for Gen Y and 77% for Gen X.

Gen Z in Southeast Asia are hard to impress and want brands to respect their online space. They are more positive towards mobile rewards video and skippable pre-rolls (which achieve net positive scores of 48% and 30% respectively).

An impatient generation, Gen Z favour having an element of control. Their least favourite formats are the invasive kind – such as non-skippable pre-rolls. Some countries are less tolerant than others when it comes to these formats.

For example, Gen Z in Indonesia and Vietnam are more damming of pop-ups (-35% and -22% net negative respectively) than those in the Philippines or Thailand who are almost indifferent to their use (-5 % and +5%) . Gen Z across Southeast Asia are also less tolerant of ads longer than 10 seconds than older generations.

In addition, brands are in danger of not being seen at all by Gen Z, as one in four (23%) use ad blocking software on their desktop computers and 18% have now installed it on their phones.

This means brands need to work hard to capture the attention of Gen Z when they are consuming media – either traditional or digital - or risk being missed altogether.

The insight from AdReaction: Engaging Gen X, Y and Z revealed that finding the right creative approach is crucial to fostering a positive response to advertising.

The study showed that the traditional creative approaches are still central to good advertising. The characteristic most likely to make Gen Z positive towards an ad is humour, with 58% agreeing. This was followed by the ability to tell an interesting story (51%) and the inclusion of good music (50%). Newer characteristics such as the use of special effects and augmented reality are less popular, at 38% and 29% respectively.

Surprisingly, the use of celebrities is not the silver bullet many brands expect, with only 22% of Gen Z in Southeast Asia saying that they made them feel more positive about an ad. This was even lower (17%) for ads that featured social media celebrities.

Kantar Millward Brown Media & Digital Solutions senior director Kamal Oberoi said: “It’s clear that Gen Z are not great fans of advertising content in its current state. They don’t want brands forcing themselves into their space, nor are they keen on out-of-context ads that don’t connect with their needs and wants. The single largest opportunity for marketers in our region is to engage Gen Z with ads that feel real and honest, that invite the audience to join in if they choose.”

Kantar Millward Brown Media & Digital global brand director Duncan Southgate continued: “No generation is a monolith and Gen Z is no exception. Their upbringing, expectations and access to technology, however, has created a range of attitudes and behaviours that will challenge marketers. Only where brands take all this into consideration will they be successful in engaging this increasingly critical and fast-emerging group of consumers.”

Review the global and country specific results of the AdReaction: Engaging Gen X, Y and Z report here
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