Hearing from youth about their ad needs

How are ads supposed to look as diversity within Gen Z creates the need to represent well... everyone? While making an ad that showcases every type of diversity sounds like a big challenge, especially with Gen Z and Millennials' uncanny ability to recognize inauthenticity, the request has now risen into a demand. At Cassandra, our research shows brands are falling short. 3 in 5 youth indicate marketers don’t understand them today, increasing to 2 in 3 among underserved groups. Today, we’re speaking directly to Gen Z and Millennials in our International Cassandra Collective on what they’d like to see as brands battle it out in the ad wars.


Many Gen Z and Millennials agree that advertising lacks relevance and want to see ads that capitalize on novel strategies. With so many reusing what seems to “work,” youth wants brands to be willing to step out of cookie cutter templates that are so often repeated. Youth are looking to be inspired, an inspiration which can be achieved by true representation of diverse groups (and not just the ones they’re part of!).

“I believe a good ad depends on novelty. Young people are always looking for novelty and innovation, and that's why I believe that brands that invest in more spontaneous forms of dissemination end up conquering the [Gen Z] group.”- Luiza, 19, Brazil

“I have seen how ads unsuccessfully try to represent all groups but they do it with unrealistic standards and it ends up being unrelatable and old.”- Moshe, 19, Mexico

“I really have the feeling that advertising has changed over the years and became more personal. Often, I get inspired by something through advertising, and I think it really appeals to me on a deeper level than before when accurately portraying different groups.”-Annick, 22, Netherlands


But what does accurate representation look like when Gen Z is so diverse and multifaceted? When asked directly, trendsetters in our International Cassandra Collective say the best ads break all the rules and showcase the dotted lines connecting a brand’s community to their diverse consumers. An appreciation for the fact that youth today aren’t just one thing, but can be all the things, is a successful theme many of youth’s favorite ads highlight.

“What I love about this Swarovski ad is that they are breaking rules in Jewelry for men, there’s a lot of them who like wearing jewelry but they are just afraid because this is a totally women targeted industry. But now [we see] ads with men and women using the same things and they are amazing for me.”- Giovanna, 24, Mexico

“I believe a great ad is from Zalando. Real-life stories can push and eradicate the boundaries of acceptance, that's why Zalando's ad is so special.”- Tommaso, 23, Italy

“I chose this ad because I feel like Nike is good at addressing the people on the market that they want. In this case, with the "Play new" commercial, they address people who are not good at sports. Because not everyone can be good at sports, but they still manage to interpret the average person in an accurate way. Showing that pro-athletes can fail in other sports is often the reality. You are rarely good at EVERYTHING you do.”- Théo, 21, Norway


With a growing understanding of distinct perceptions, but a need to balance relaxing and relatable content, Gen Z and Millennials follow a mix of influencers. Following an influencer that’s like you builds a sense of community and allows space to relax. Yet, following others who have different perspectives allows youth to explore their different personalities and ensure they don’t get stuck within their tailored algorithm.

“I try to follow different opinions in order to have a better understanding of the world. Nevertheless, I do prefer to listen to people that do have the same opinion as me, because they tend to give me further insight into a topic.”-Diana, 23, Mexico

“I follow many different influencers to try to experience new personalities and new environments.”- Giovanna, 24, Mexico

“I love to vary, I hate feeling trapped in a single cycle. I'm passionate about knowing different realities, different points of view and different stories, so I always keep searching for new content to watch and consume.”- Julia, 25, Brazil