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Innovation Showcase – ViacomCBS

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Did you miss our recent panel on Five Marketing Myths About Gen Z, Debunked?

We got you!

Read below for a quick recap or go deeper and watch the live recording. Thank you to the ViacomCBS Creative Strategy & Cultural Intelligence team for providing this insightful and relevant research.

Five Marketing Myths About Gen Z, Debunked

If we were to believe everything we read, Gen Z is the most anxious, loneliest and suicidal generation, and yet the most hopeful, entrepreneurial, and creative. As marketers, these headlines only show us a sliver of their reality. It’s no wonder that Gen Z doesn’t feel seen by brands: 64% of Gen Z say brands don’t understand people their age vs. 45% of Millennials––an 11-point rise from 2020, according to YPulse. As marketers, we have a responsibility to understand and speak to their full lived experiences by undoing tropes and narratives that only go skin-deep.

Myth 1: Gen Z Is Going To Save The World
Reality: Gen Z don’t see themselves as saviors.

According to ViacomCBS’s Command Z study, only 8% feel that their generation will save the world. While they’re angry about being forced to step up and undo the damage, they’re much more realistic than the media portrays––knowing that it will take more than their generation to create true systemic change. 38% realize their generation is still a work-in-progress – from our Command Z study. They don’t have the answers and are figuring things out as they go.

Myth 2: Gen Z Wants To Be Famous
Reality: Gen Z are driven by financial independence and impact.

Being a creator or influencer is less about chasing fame and more about embracing the freedom that comes with being your own boss. According to ViacomCBS’s Culture of Influence report, “money” and “having a positive impact”, at 19% and 18% respectively, were the top motivators among Gen Z and millennials for having a career as an online creator, while fame was the lowest motivator at 2%. The desire to be a creator is similar to young Americans’ desire to become entrepreneurs––the new American Dream.

Myth 3: Gen Z Is Always Looking To Escape Reality
Reality: Gen Z faces reality head-on.

In our ViacomCBS Command Z study, we asked Gen Z to choose between the “red pill” or “blue pill” from the Matrix. 67% said they would rather know the truth even if it’s ugly or makes them feel bad. And they expect brands to keep it just as real. 55% want brands to help them stay grounded in the real world––an opportunity to lean into level-setting by separating fact from fiction.

Myth 4: Gen Z Hates Brands
Reality: Gen Z expects brands to change it up when it comes to brand equity.

According to ViacomCBS’s Command Z study, only 22% want a brand to be true to their legacy, which means that over 3 in 4 Gen Zers are open to brands being experimental and adapting to culture. When 54% appreciate brands that connect with them in new and innovative ways, then it’s time to stretch the limits of your brand.

Myth 5: Gen Z Is Quick To Cancel Creators and Brands
Reality: Gen Z is more forgiving than they get credit for.

At the heart of cancel culture is a call for accountability, learning and growth. According to ViacomCBS’s Culture of Influence report, 39% of Gen Z & Millennials have forgiven a creator after they did something objectionable, and most have forgiven them within a few days as long as they apologize and commit to change. Brands are increasingly cautious about the influencers they partner with fearing backlash of their own. However, there’s little cause for concern as we also found in our Culture of Influence report. Only 9% of Gen Z and millennials would stop supporting the corporate partner of a creator who got canceled, and 27% don’t even think about the consequences of those partnerships.

Featured Presenter: Angel Bellon, Senior Director of Creative Strategy and Cultural Intelligence, ViacomCBS

Angel is a Senior Director of Creative Strategy & Cultural Intelligence at ViacomCBS. A hybrid strategist + cultural anthropologist, Angel fuses consumer insight & cultural foresight to forecast consumer behavior. At ViacomCBS, Angel is responsible for pushing organizational thinking both internally and with media partners, providing multicultural thought leadership as well as injecting culture-forward inspiration into the branded content creative process. Previously, Angel founded the Cultural Anthropology department at VaynerMedia which included designing the agency’s insights methodology and overseeing the department’s output across all agency accounts and agency deliverables such as digital and social campaigns, voice skills and brand strategy.

Having moderated 100s of ethnographies, focus groups and online communities domestically, Angel has also managed global qualitative research in 10+ markets, brand strategy, trend activation and product innovation projects for clients such as Spotify, Samsung NEXT, Frito-Lay, Taco Bell, Coca-Cola, Diageo & ABInBev. In addition, Angel has designed and moderated workshops and Trend Safaris throughout the US and Europe and has presented at Advertising Week, Social Media Week, WPP Stream and the United Nations.

Featured Panelist: Catherine Berger, Director, Media & Consumer Experience, Ferrara

Catherine Berger leads the media and consumer experience functions at Ferrara, helming the omnichannel approach to activating brand strategies across the portfolio. With a background in media, technology, and brand building, Catherine has shaped a career as a catalyst for step-change in marketing. Prior to her time at Ferrara, Catherine spent five years spent consulting brands and martech firms at MediaLink. There, Catherine was a foundational member of the Data and Technology Solutions team. She later went on to help build out MediaLink’s Brand Transformation practice, where she was critical in bolstering the firm’s ability to steward blue chip marketers through their transformation journeys. Berger has been integral in the data-driven strategies of many brands including Dunkin’, Hershey, Citi, J&J, Petco, and more.

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