July 31, 2020

Gen Z and Their Data

The following is part of a series from our recent roundtable discussion, Finding Success in our New Data Reality, in collaboration with other leaders in the data and privacy space. Keep an eye on our blog in the coming weeks for additional learnings from this event.

As companies continually work to optimize their data strategies, it quickly becomes clear that consumer thinking around data sharing varies wildly, perhaps most acutely across generations.

There is certainly an age divide when it comes to our comfort level around data sharing, yet how it breaks down might surprise you. For example, Gen Z’ers (those born from the mid-1990s to mid-2010s) appear much more willing than their elders to give up some of their data privacy. But they expect something in return: namely, an optimized and relevant experience. They’re willing to give companies specific data points, but in exchange they want to be shown exactly what they’re looking for, or better yet, they want companies to anticipate their needs.

“The attitudes and behaviors of the younger generation provide marketers with an instructive picture of how we should be changing our approach to reaching audiences. Interruptive messages and exploitative data collection simply will not fly with this group. Creating first-party relationships and experiences through transparent value exchanges is the only sustainable way forward. Marketers should be actively challenging anything in their strategies that do not line up to that framework.” – Scott Ensign, VP, Client Solutions

Older generations took pause after the Cambridge Analytica scandal revealed just how much data they were unknowingly sharing and felt stung that companies they trusted, like Facebook, could let this happen. Gen Z’ers, however, are much less beholden to such companies and instead value referral and authenticity over brand recognition. The very way this generation makes decisions is different; therefore, any future-proof data strategy must take their POV into account but remain flexible, because as Generation Alpha’s members (those born from 2010 to 2025) grow into budding consumers themselves, their thoughts on data and privacy could be just as different.


Special thanks to our collaborators LiveRamp, Neustar, MediaMath, UserZoom, ImpactProduct, Flashtalking, MediaMonks, Microsoft, the 4A’s, Wunderman Thompson, 3Radical, and SAS.

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