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Simon Schneider

Opportunity for brands: AR as an engagement turbo for interacting with Generation Z


What do young people want? It’s not just parents who are pondering this, but more and more marketing departments: How can Generation Z be reached and sustainably inspired?

Each generation develops its own unique ways of expressing itself. Generation X sprayed graffiti on walls. Millennials (Generation Y), born by the mid-1990s, were already staking out their territory online: on Facebook, YouTube and Instagram. But it is the kids of Gen Z that are the first true digital natives: in their world view, online and offline are no longer opposites, but rather mutually inclusive: one is no longer conceivable without the other. Centennials today spend an average of three hours and 38 minutes on the net via one of their mobile devices – almost an hour longer than the average web surfer.

Until now, companies have paid much less attention to those born after 1998 than to their predecessors. But the youngsters are now increasingly becoming the focus of marketing departments, and rightly so: in ten years, this group will make up a third of consumers worldwide, predicts management consultants OC&C. Addressing them today will pay off tomorrow at the latest.

How do you reach Gen Z?
The answer is: via Augmented Reality.

The life of the growing representatives of Generation Z takes place to a large extent online. They no longer get their ideas for products and brands though television or print media. Social media, as a virtual version of word-of-mouth advertising, is their favourite source of information; here they express their opinions, engage with the opinions of their peers and are inspired by posts from celebrities or influencers. The digital exchange of wishes, tips and ideas is as natural for Generation Z as is reading a daily newspaper for Boomers.

The way social media are used has changed simultaneously with the technology: While they were pure messaging media in the beginning (such as Facebook), the focus shifted towards images shortly after (e.g. Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat) and finally ended to video (YouTube and today especially TikTok). Young users have always welcomed the new forms of application with open arms and exhausted all possibilities to express their individuality in ever new ways: in Stories, Reels, TikToks and more.

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Augmented Reality (AR) is now the next step: a new game alternative with immense creative potential. AR is the perfect technology for users to not only create virtual content, but to display it in real space and even interact with it: real life + X. For brands, this technical innovation offers great opportunities. For example, in May 2020, we at 361/DRX, in cooperation with Seven.One AdFactory and Starwatch Entertainment, used AR to enable fans of “Germany’s Next Topmodel” to have a virtual Meet & Greet with their favourite contestant, after the contact restrictions in the Corona pandemic had not allowed a real encounter. With “Virtual GNTM”, anyone could virtually stand next to their favourite model via augmented reality, take a selfie and upload their picture on social media under #poseathomechallenge. Ten million impressions, around 500,000 interactions, almost 200,000 AR views and an average stay of 40 seconds: the figures speak for the success of the campaign. The virtual GNTM Experience will also take place in 2021.

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The AR campaign for the ProSieben TV show “The Masked Singer” was as successful: Fans could have the popular “Monsterchen” perform a dance known from “Fortnite” as a 3D avatar and place it in their imminent environment. Ten percent of users created their own content with the “Monster” filter and shared it on Instagram. To support the #machdichlaut campaign of the Weißer Ring association, we created an interactive AR Face filter for Instagram together with Seven.One AdFactory: Using face tracking technology, a black mask – the key visual of the awareness campaign – appears on the user’s face and disappears as soon as they open their mouth: an impressive implementation of the call to speak up against domestic violence.

AR = real life + X|

AR generates up to 45 percent more attention among Generation Z than classic media, states the Mindshare Futures Report “Layered”. The time spent with the brand is four times longer than with a simple video. And content is remembered up to 70 percent better when it is conveyed via augmented reality. All this makes augmented reality the perfect engagement booster for the marketing of the future: a photo created through AR, such a brand experience is preserved in the data memory, shared in the social media and becomes an eternal memory of a very special moment. AR tools thus have the opportunity to create a lasting emotional bond between the brand and the consumer in a virtual way. And to create brand fans in the long term.

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