Phil Fraser   —   19 September 2018   —   Opinion

More informed, more conscientious, more connected. There’s a new generation in town. Generation Z is defined ‘age wise’ as those born after 1995. They equate to around 25% of the UK population. We have already worked on two projects that have successfully targeted them, so we’re starting to get a good idea about what makes them tick. We hope you think our latest work for the University of Central Lancashire, or UCLan for short, is testament to this. The ‘Together’ student recruitment campaign is borne out of extensive research of Gen Z and even at this early stage, the campaign is hitting the mark.

A scary thought.

As a school governor, one of the yearly measures that scares me with a new intake of children is the percentage that try to swipe the whiteboard when they first enter a classroom. Tablet technology is second nature to them so why should this ‘device’ be any different? Gen Z have grown up with digital technology, and tablets and phones have replaced TV in keeping them amused, entertained and informed (CBeebiesitter was a saviour when my kids were younger). Life is moving forward and we all need to keep up.

‘If we knew what we were doing it wouldn’t be called research would it’ Albert Einstein. 

We started to research Gen Z about a year ago when we were working with a Private Student Accommodation client. Our planning team spent weeks reading articles to build their knowledge. This knowledge then informed a suite of work created for the client but our planners were hungry to find out more. So when the project finished we undertook a piece of research on behalf of a client in the charity sector to find out what would motivate younger people to donate to charity. We took the opportunity to commission further research to talk to the audience about their media habits. We now have cupboards full of information (not really - it is all in the cloud but I like the juxtaposition of old and new).

A bit of what we know.

To give you a flavour of what we know about Gen Z here you go…

They are more self-aware, success-driven, socially responsible and globally-minded than any generation before them. They believe in equality, this is non-negotiable. They trust their on-line community and peers to verify or challenge opinions and decisions they have made.

With regard to marketing they want brands to be real and support brands that take a stand on the issues they believe in. 

But this merely scratches the surface and we could talk for hours (or in my case days) about our favourite new generation.


Armed with knowledge we were lucky enough to spot a brief for the UCLan undergraduate recruitment campaign and we relished the opportunity to utilise what we had learned. The only stumbling point was we had spotted the brief just as the deadline was looming.  So with 48 hours left before the tender needed to be emailed to the client, we locked our Head of Planning, a few of our creatives and a couple of account handlers in a room with the instruction to win the business. The rest is geography, sorry to change the subject I meant history. We won the tender and have within the space of 10 weeks rolled out our first UCLan campaign.

Real ads, real people.

The litmus test for the work produced was that it had to be authentic, relevant and shareable. Gen Z are growing up in an environment of content abundance so they not only can be discerning, they have to be. 77% of our audience like ads that show real people in real situations. We had to make sure that the work was believable and engaging. This was achieved by using real students (over 50 of them) in situ at the University (40 locations). Finally it had to be deep and rich in meaning but easily digestible.


The idea came out of a core Gen Z insight, they want to be part of something. Whether that is a movement to put right a perceived wrong, a group of likeminded people, local friends and peers or globally (over 25% of them have networks in other countries) community is key to them. From this insight the Together campaign was born and you can read more about it here.

Having a 15 year old daughter I am living Generation Z every single day and I thank our planning team for some useful insights that have improved my limited parenting skills. The new kids on the block are different, interesting and most importantly they will account for 40% of all consumers by 2020. We have been fortunate enough to have been chosen by great clients to show off our knowledge of the sector and create some great work. We look forward to producing more. 

If you have a service or product that needs to target Generation Z or if you simply want to know more about them, get in touch

[email protected]

Our Partners / Accreditations / Networks

0161 872 3455

Sign up to our newsletter