Why We Need To Rip Up The Rulebook When It Comes To Marketing To The iGen

Originally Published in: The Drum

August 22nd, 2016

Ofcom’s recently released report shows that TV viewing figures for the under 25s have fallen by a quarter, while they only fell 5 per cent for 55-64 year olds over the same period. Under 25s – millennials and the Generation Z/iGen – have been brought up with greater social mobility and the independence to use media and communicate wherever and whenever. Marketing is now a two-way conversation and marketers are not always fully in control, which is exposing brands in more ways than one. With TV advertising playing such an important role in forming traditional life-long brand associations from an early age, and branding lifecycles having to be more reactive, how does the move away from live TV shape future marketing strategies?


One finding the report highlighted was that people of all ages are engaging in so called ‘digital detoxes’. Perhaps unsurprisingly, under 25s had the most negative experience being away from their devices, with a quarter reporting feeling anxious without their phone. This could partly be due to the fear of missing out (FOMO) factor, which is intensified by semi-public forums like social media and people’s internet addictions. Marketers can use this reaction to their advantage by incorporating it into their social media strategies. It goes without saying that adding urgency or scarcity of a product is a great way to increase sales. However, brand awareness campaigns can also benefit from adding some FOMO-factor as well as helping to control brand exposure. Samsung successfully played on FOMO with its Rhianna campaign in 2015. The campaign created buzz by releasing video teasers along with an immersive website and game in the countdown to Rihanna’s album release, working to create the story of a journey through the singer’s life. The campaign’s use of suspense created intrigue and FOMO and generated 2,000 followers on Twitter and 10,000 followers on the Instagram account within a week. Future FOMO campaigns will feature the technology du jour – virtual reality. VR experiences like Google Cardboard can be cheaply reproduced branded experiences that require just the user’s phone, the cardboard headset and an app. Further down the line, the next wave of VR will include activity as well as visuals – interaction that engages more senses than just sight and sound, a place that HTC’s Vive starts at. The VR of tomorrow could include smells and touch – such as wind, sea spray or the smell of freshly cut grass. Under 25s have grown up in a world unhindered by technology constraints. Anything is possible and technology needs to keep pushing boundaries too.

Hello, I’m a chatbot

Under 25s consider instant messaging as the most important form of communication and platforms like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger are the most popular currently. While advertisers are currently unable to utilise WhatsApp, it’s likely that Facebook’s army of chatbots which are being developed for Facebook Messenger will make their way over to the other platform. Chatbots are artificial intelligence that can read and write messages. If done correctly, they offer ways for brands to speak directly to customers for customer service purposes and an excellent opportunity for less intrusive marketing. As we’ve already seen with the use of over retargeting and invasive mobile ad formats, data driven advertising should be used with caution; overuse of push notifications is likely to negate the positive effects of the personal touch that chatbots offer and could become annoying.

Creatively social

It’s no secret that under 25s use social networks more than older generations: 9 per cent compared to the average 3 per cent for over 25s. iGens and millennials are curators of content, from iMovies to music videos, as well as of their own brand. Instagram recently launched a Snapchat-like feature which highlights the age group’s need for a creative outlet to personalise photos and messaging. An example of this in action is Mondelez Australia’s TimeOut campaign from 2015. The brand partnered with Snapchat to form a competition, attracting young consumers and encouraging them to use the platform’s drawing tools to create new pictures that included a picture of the TimeOut chocolate bar. The brand received thousands of entries and highlights why marketers need to think three-dimensionally – let them interact with your brand on their terms rather than showing them static images.

Break the mould

It’s time for a break from the old ways of brand advertising. Millennials and the iGeneration are moving away from TV and onto social and messaging platforms. They are the new content creators and are at the forefront of trends. So what does the future of advertising look like for marketers? It looks nothing like it does today. In the last 20 years we have seen the rise of martech, adtech, VR and wearables. But this is still very much the first world. While it may not be conceivable to many older generations, the idea that by 2030 humans could have microchips implanted into their brains for advanced processing perhaps isn’t so crazy for younger generations. As a marketer, I know that it will be increasingly important to brands to ensure they allow this generation to lead and communicate with authenticity. In 10-20 years’ time, traditional advertising formats will either no longer exist or will be unrecognisable from their original format. As a marketer I want to ensure I lead brands into the future with promise and success. That means ensuring safe testing of new formats and technologies on the fly and in the meantime, keeping my finger on the pulse of the iGen.

Written by:

Nikki Hawke

CMO at The Exchange Lab


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