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Gen Z More Likely To Be Ok With Targeted Ads



Dan O'Connor

Studies say shopping habits of the younger cohort differ significantly from boomers.

As cookies head toward the exit door and consumer privacy remains at the forefront of marketing discussions, it has become increasingly important to get a pulse on digital tactics like targeted ads that can turn off some consumers. In a piece of potentially good news for marketers, new research suggests that younger consumers may be more comfortable with targeted advertising, and in fact may prefer it.

Compared to older consumers, Gen Zers are three times as likely to allow tracking when presented with prompts such as those for Apple’s App Tracking Transparency, according to research from Tinuiti. Approximately 37% of Gen Z consumers allowed tracking in order to see more relevant advertising, with the remaining 43% opting out. For baby boomers, the vast majority opted out.

How Gen Z consumers protect themselves online is also dramatically different when compared to baby boomers. Gen Z consumers were less likely to clear their browser cookies (41% vs. 59%) or to use an ad blocker (27% vs. 32%). However, Gen Z consumers were more likely to use a VPN (32% vs. 27%).

“[A] piece that stood out was how much more likely Gen Zers are to say they prefer to allow tracking in order to receive relevant ads compared to older cohorts, as well as how much less likely Gen Zers are to take actions like clearing cookies and deploying ad blockers,” said Andy Taylor, vice president of research at Tinuiti, in emailed remarks to Marketing Dive.

The report drew data from five different surveys, totaling more than 5,000 respondents. The data was collected between February and April of 2023. Of the surveys, three looked at CPG categories, one looked at sentiment around online privacy and one looked at Prime members’ attitudes toward Prime Day.

The power of social media

While it may not be a surprise that TikTok is the go-to for Gen Z product discovery, the role of influencers cannot be overstated. Over 75% of Gen Zers reported buying a product based the recommendation of an influencer in the past year, far greater than for baby boomers. When looking at only beauty and food and beverage products, that number jumps to 85%.

“Influencers are quickly becoming a trusted source of recommendations for many consumers, especially Gen Zers, and their role in product discovery and purchases is only going to grow from here,” said Taylor.

Gen Zers are more likely to research a product prior to purchase than other generations. This applies to online shopping as well as in-store purchases. According to the report, Gen Z is more likely than baby boomers to search for a product or brand on a search engine (43% vs. 36%), search for a product or brand on social media (33% vs. 7%) or scan a QR code (25% vs. 9%).

These young consumers aren’t just looking for information on a product, according to the research. Seventy-four percent of Gen Z CPG shoppers indicated that the values and beliefs of the brand they are purchasing from were at least somewhat important to them, a higher share than for any other generation.

Where Gen Z does their shopping is also different from older consumers. According to the report, 59% of Gen Zers bought CPG products from grocery stores, compared to 79% of baby boomers. Approximately 20% of Gen Z consumers did their grocery shopping on a delivery platform, compared to just 5% of baby boomers.

“The extent to which social media as a whole, and TikTok in particular, is credited with Gen Z product discovery is astounding, and marketers undeniably have to take this into account in trying to grow awareness and consideration with younger consumers,” said Taylor. “Social media's influence even extends to the in-store experience, as Gen Zers were far more likely than older generations to search on social media for brands while doing research in stores.”

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