How to Crack the Gen Z Market With AR

April 14, 2022 • Written by Catherine Kulke

Gen Z is growing up—and as the generation credited for the “e-girl” aesthetic, the word “cheugy,” and TikTok’s explosive success enters the workforce, the demographic’s purchasing power is growing, too. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Gen Z will account for 30% of U.S. workers by 2030, and the cohort is capable of spending up to $143 billion. This mounting economic influence, paired with young people’s perennial cultural clout (When have teens and twenty-somethings not been the gatekeepers of “cool”?), have made Gen Z one of marketers’ most sought-after audiences today.

But winning over the next generation of buyers is hardly an easy task for brands. Just 32% of Gen Z consumers trust social media ads, and 69% think ads are disruptive. So, how can brands build authentic connections with young people? Let’s explore a few data-backed ways marketers can use social AR to capture—and keep—the interest of Gen Z audiences. 

Traditional Advertising Won’t Cut It With Gen Z

  • 32% of Gen Z consumers trust social media ads
  • 69% of Gen Z consumers think ads are disruptive

Why Social AR is the Key to Reaching Gen Z

Maybe your grandma gave up on Facebook, but you probably agree that social media now connects people across generations. And since 42% of all consumers are more likely to buy from a brand that uses AR at some point in their journey, it’s clear marketers can leverage social AR to engage both young and mature audiences. 

However, the technology is a particularly valuable tool for brands looking to galvanize Gen Z. Not only do Gen Z’ers discover brands primarily on social media, they’re even more glued to their phones than older demographics, and spend an average of 4.5 hours a day on their mobile devices. The cohort is also highly optimistic about technology and eager to incorporate new tools, like AR, into their shopping experiences: a study by Snap Inc. anticipates that, by 2025, we’ll see a 37% increase in the number of Gen Z consumers who use AR prior to making a purchase. Given that social shopping and AR are already part of Gen Z’s world, the demographic is primed to respond positively to AR campaigns from brands. 

Gen Z consumers social AR marketing

3 Tips for Engaging Gen Z Through Social AR

1. Make TikTok a Priority Channel

It’s practically impossible to talk about Gen Z without mentioning TikTok. The short-form video platform has established itself as both a cultural and commercial hub for Gen Z, making it an integral component of any cross-platform AR marketing strategy targeting the demographic. Widely credited for TikTok’s rise, Gen Z accounts for a significant portion of TikTok’s user base: nearly half of TikTok users are between the ages of 10 and 29, and a Camera IQ survey found that the platform is Gen Z’s second-most-used channel after Instagram. For brands looking to maximize their AR campaigns’ reach among Gen Z audiences, publishing to TikTok is a must. 

In addition to amplifying brand awareness among Gen Z, incorporating TikTok into your cross-platform AR strategy can help drive full-funnel results. A significant 49% of TikTok users say the platform has guided their purchase decisions, and 30% of Gen Z consumers prefer using TikTok over other social media channels for product research (Sprout Social). Given AR’s proven track record of accelerating sales for brands, it’s clear that AR marketing on TikTok also has the potential to open Gen Z wallets. 

TikTok Steers Gen Z Shopping Carts

  • 49% of TikTok users say the platform has guided their purchase decisions
  • 30% of Gen Z consumers prefer TikTok over other channels for product research

Download the Ultimate Guide to AR Marketing on TikTok for a complete roadmap to designing and promoting winning TikTok effects, and learn how Camera IQ can help your brand can get started with TikTok AR here.

2. Co-Create With Consumers

Gen Z may wield significant spending power, but today’s young people are savvy shoppers. In line with the generation’s skepticism about traditional advertising, Gen Z’ers tend to eschew brands and messaging they perceive as “fake,” with 32% counting brand authenticity as a motivator for making a purchase. In order to position themselves as genuine and relatable, brands can look for collaborative storytelling opportunities that amplify the voices of real-life fans. 

Social AR is inherently co-creative: rather than simply broadcasting a brand’s story through traditional advertising channels—which Gen Z widely perceives as inauthentic—AR effects invite everyday consumers to incorporate brands into their own original stories. Marketers can further strengthen a collaborative brand narrative by sharing users’ AR experiences to their owned social channels, making co-creation part of their official messaging. On TikTok, brands can even leverage tools like Duet and Stitch to respond directly and publicly to users who adopt their effects, recognizing and elevating these fans as part of their communities.

Brand Authenticity Is Important to Gen Z

  • 32% of Gen Z consumers make purchases motivated by brands’ authenticity

Gen Z consumers social AR

3. Embrace Opportunities to Entertain

Gen Z loves to laugh, so brands hoping to make a splash with younger audiences shouldn’t take themselves too seriously. When surveyed about what they looked to gain from brands’ content on social media, 59% of Gen Z consumers cited entertainment, making it the cohort’s top priority. (In comparison, 52% of Gen Z consumers wanted to be educated about products or services, Millennials’ and Gen X’s No. 1 objective.)

AR marketers can tap into Gen Z’s lighthearted energy by designing offbeat and amusing experiences. While funny transformations tend to resonate best with consumers overall, Gen Z is especially drawn to the format, with 32% of the Gen Z’ers we surveyed championing humorous effects. Creative, playful lenses are far more likely to inspire younger audiences than simple product visualizations, which appealed to just 9% of Gen Z survey respondents. 

Gen Z Wants to Laugh With Brands

  • 59% of Gen Z consumers want to be entertained by brands on social media
  • 32% of Gen Z consumers favor funny transformation effects

Gen Z is changing the rules of marketing, and social AR is a key inroad to this increasingly valuable demographic. By publishing effects to TikTok, welcoming co-creation, and having a sense of humor, brands can win younger consumers’ trust and position themselves as Gen Z go-tos. 

For more insights on how social AR is impacting consumers across generations, read our full report, The Gateway to the Metaverse: AR Marketing and Consumer Behavior in 2022.

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