Gen-Z & Data Privacy
We ‘older-but-wiser’ crowd tend to forget Gen Z’s intelligence when it comes to data privacy and the digital world. Sure, we think they’re young and carefree, but let’s remember that this is the first natively digital generation. They are, by their very nature, extremely aware that their data is tracked by every app they use, and are equally wary of sites or apps that do so in order to push irrelevant ads on them or waste their time. In fact, despite practically living online, they tend to be far more cautious with their online presence – the best example being the double Instagram accounts most young people manage – the public one and their ‘real’ one (which prompted the social platform’s adding the option to share IG Stories to one’s close friends only).
Back when I was a teenager, the worst thing you could call someone was a ‘sellout’.
If a celebrity promoted a product, a band let their music be used in a commercial, or an artist made money by selling their intellectual property for use by a corporation, they were automatically labeled a sellout and therefore disrespected as an artist. Today’s teenager – that wickedly savvy creature called the Gen Zer – dreams of nothing great than making a living off of peddling other people’s wares. Get paid for pushing sponsored content and promoting brands online? What’s not to like?
Shockingly, the same can be said for Gen-Z’s feelings about data mining by large corporations. Where Gen Xers and Millennials are outraged by companies ‘stealing’ their data for ‘nefarious’ purposes, Gen Z goes “What’s the problem? I want ads and value propositions targeted specifically to me.” It’s all about the personalized experience for these young consumers, and most of us (including those of us marketing products & services to them) are left dumbstruck and mouth agape by their ‘yeah, so?’ attitude.
Oh, how the tides have turned.
In today’s data-as-currency world, we all bow down occasionally and trade personal information in exchange for certain benefits or incentives. Gen Zers, who have grown up with extreme personalization of their digital environments – from the wallpapers on their chat apps to the content (and therefore ads) they choose to consume on social media – tend not to dwell on the ‘should I, shouldn’t I’ dilemma we old folks encounter before accepting cookies, filling out forms, or letting our phones track our app activities. But they’re not giving it away that easily, either: Gen Zers expect a lot from brands, and as long as it’s not used for predatory purposes, they view personal data as an acceptable price to pay for personalization and services that add value to their lives.
For proof, look no further than the insane level of engagement Instagram sponsored ads get when they are seamlessly presented on feeds. They browse the stuff they like, they get ads for the stuff they like, they buy the stuff they like.
A recent poll showed that ⅓ of Gen Zers claim that they’re not concerned that companies will use their personal data in harmful ways. Who are these people?? But, at least, there’s this bit of hopeful logic we’re left with: If it’s not going to serve them in some way, they’re not clicking your ‘gimme’ button.
Here are some more Gen Z stats you probably weren’t aware of:
- 46% use ad blockers. The #1 reason being too many irrelevant ads.
- 74% have expressed being highly uncomfortable with apps tracking their activity
- 62% use private browsing windows
- 50% reported reported accepting then deleting cookies on their devices
- 33% use a VPN or Proxy Server
- 72% have said they find online ads annoying or irrelevant
- 40% use another device to shop online while watching TV