81% of consumers like when brands use humor, but only 28% say brands connect with their comedic sensibilities
People are clear about humor: brands should use it when communicating. But it’s critical to get the tone right. Despite their openness and expectations surrounding the use of humor, Ipsos community members cite only a few brands that deliver.
Listen in as we share online community insights and tips to help you connect with a Gen Z audience. During this webinar, we reference Ipsos research to explain why:
- Brands cannot be all things to all people—those who try risk stumbling into a sticky spot and not reaching anyone
- It’s okay to use different messages on different channels such as TikTok or Facebook Reels, depending on your audience
- You should diversify your comedic talent, both in the sense of demographic diversity and in the types of comedy represented
Today’s AI-generated audio transcript is offered below. Apologies in advance for inconsistencies that have been included.
Thank you for joining us for today's Ipsos webinar, featuring tips for adding humor to your advertising for a Gen Z audience.
Today's presentation will be given by Kelsey Chessey and Phillip Ranly, and you can read more about them in the files slide in front of you.
Throughout today's session, you will remain in listen only mode, however, throughout the webinar, please submit questions using the online feature.
Time permitting, we'll answer questions at the end of today's session, However, if time runs short, then your question will be answered by e-mail.
I also encourage you to check out the handouts we've uploaded into the Webinar control panel.
And yes today's Webinar is being recorded and will also be directly e-mailed to you.
So now without further ado it is my pleasure to introduce today's first speaker Kelsey Chessey Director of Ipsos Online Communities. Kelsey, you have the floor.
Thank you very much, and thank you to everyone for joining us today. Philip and I are very excited about all of the wonderful content that we get to talk about with you today. So, to give you kind of an overview of what we're going to go through, first, I'm going to just give you a little bit of background on Gen Z, and who they are, and provide some context in terms of the lifestyle that they have grown up in. Some of the major events that have happened in their life, and some of the differences with their generation, in terms of conducting research with them, that I'm going to hand it over to Philip and Philip is going to take that really deep dive into their sense of humor. And looking at all of those different elements of their sense of humor, what connects with them. And then, how these events in their life have impacted their sense of humor.
Then, we'll also talk a little bit more about where and how Gen Z prefers to interact with their unscripted comedy.
And then we will close out our session with some recommendations specifically from these Gen Z consumers that we received during our research.
And of course an opportunity for Q&A because there is a lot of really good and really interesting content in a deck. Philip and I are going to turn our cameras off so that you can focus on all of that content. But of course, we will still be here. I want to turn our cameras back on at the end for Q and A So that you can see our lovely faces at that point as well.
So, as I mentioned, diving into the first part of understanding who is Gen Z, because we can't really understand their sense of humor without understanding who they are, and some of the context that goes on in their life.
The first point out here is just about some basic demographics. And the fact that this generation is between 1996 and 2010, which makes the oldest of this segment, actually, 26 years old.
And that consistently blows my mind. Because I tend to think of Gen Z as being teenagers, and pre teens.
and it's really important to remember that, while some of them certainly are in that age group, there's also a lot of them that are on the older side. They are starting to make decisions about their life. They're starting to think about things that are going to happen, post-college and kind of entering the workforce. And so it's just really important context for us to think about the variety of ages that fall underneath of this cohort.
Second, just understanding who they are and what they're spending power, it looks like.
As of 2020, they made up about 40% of the global markets.
And then the latest Bloomberg report last year indicated that that's about $360 billion in disposable income.
And not only do they have this disposable income, but they're actually spending it. So, Millennials have been spending just over $65 billion in terms of that spending power.
But Gen Z is already outpacing them at almost $100 billion, then not only are they spending, they're also influencing. So, we know that this group is influencing themself.
And we've seen some of the conversations of influencing in terms of, you know, online influencers, Instagram Influencers. But, beyond that, this group is just very influential between themselves and some of the older generations.
I think one of the best examples of this is actually something that just happened earlier this month. and that is talking about the Rise of Grill and the Gentle Minions movement that came with that style.
If you're not familiar with what that is, the Rise of Grill is part of the broader Menu and franchise. And it debuted over the Fourth of July weekend.
And what's really interesting is that it made more than $219 million in its opening weekend worldwide, and $125 million, specifically within the US. Which actually broke Box Office records for the Independent State Weekend Spending.
And when you compare that with some of the previous launches within the franchise, the most recent, ...
three only made $72 million, and even the the original sort of ... spinoff made about $115 million. So you can see that it's made a great deal more than most of the other films within this franchise.
And really, what they think is that a lot of that was driven by this gentleman, ... movement. And what that was was these groups of teenagers, Those like 13 to 17 year olds, who are showing up to the theaters, wearing suits, and posting about it on tick tock and posting about it on Instagram. They had secret handshakes that they were sharing with each other.
And they were just really kind of utilizing memes to spread this online knowledge about Dominion's movie and getting people to get there.
Interestingly, it is notable that Hollywood Reporter said that a quote unquote unusually high percentage of the audience for this film was between 13 and 17.
They said it was actually about four times more than that same age group that showed up for the first despicable me, three launch.
So it's really not a huge leap. Then to make this connection and say, OK, these teenagers, this gentleman, union movement, all of the hype that started around it on social media, clearly made a major contribution to these ticket sales for this film. So they do have a lot of power when it comes to spending in the market, and some very unique things that they are interested in.
So with that, talking a little bit more about, you know, how do we connect with them, how do we understand them, because they are a unique group.
How do we, how do we get to hear from them in a way that it doesn't feel flat or forced?
So enter our Club Z And what you'll see is that a lot of the results that we'll be sharing today Comes specifically from the research that we did in this clubs. The community and clubs, he is a research community that we have that's dedicated specifically to collaborating with these teens in the United States.
It's wonderful for us as researchers, because we get to hear a lot about it.
So, we get to, to really have some of these authentic conversations with our Gen Z consumers, but they also find a great deal of value out of it. When we were talking with them, we asked them, you know, what is it that you like about this community. Why do you choose to be part of it? You know, why do you keep coming back and participating in these events that we have.
And I think the quote this on here just does a really good job of exemplifying why this is a great resource for them and a great resource for us. It's because, for these clubs, the members, they feel like it's a place where people listen to you and take into account your opinion.
I would like it if more people focused on knowing about younger people's opinions, as we will be index consumers.
And I think that point of being the next consumers is really important in terms of, you know, understanding them, what resonates with them, and really helping brands kinda connect with them. And in a way that's that super authentic.
So, talking a little bit more specifically about this study and understanding humor and kind of how we approach that, what you can see on the left here is that we've learned that our Gen Z consumers like to engage in research in different ways, versus some of the other generations. So, for example, whereas adults, those, over the age of 18, prefer to engage in surveys, are Gen Z consumers, really lean into these discussions. They like that opportunity to, to speak, and to have their voice heard, versus just kind of feeling like they're a number or, or feeling like they're a piece of data.
So, we took two different approaches in this study, and you'll see results from both of those different phases as we're going through.
If you read our POV earlier this year, you'll know that the first part is that we did a quantitative survey with all of the different generations to understand at that level, sort of, what are the differences in their preferences with comedy? What are the things that appeal to them on a broad level? What are kind of those, those differences in those statistical elements that really stand out across all of the different generations?
And then the second phase that we get to share some really exciting results from today, as well, is that qualitative deep dive that we did with our clubs, the members. So really sort of doing that doubleclick into our younger consumers, and understanding specifically from them. What are the things that resonate and hearing in their own words, having them share examples? And then having them provide some guidance to brands in terms of how can brands connect with these consumers?
And how can brands provide those examples and those ads that really do connect with these consumers, their sense of humor.
OK, so understanding Gen Z and kind of who they are, and what they stand for is one thing, but it's also, I think, really important to get some context for major events that have happened throughout their lives because we know that their sense of humor is really shaped by this kind of volatile timeline.
That they have lived through, if you think about some of the major events that have happened in their lifetime, it's been a bit of a roller coaster, and the majority of them don't know life without technology.
If we think about Facebook being invented and launching in 2005, having iPads becoming more mainstream in 2010.
So they've got this really, sort of, Tech saturated life, things are are very amplified, but then there's also been a lot of really negative and really intense things that have happened in their lifetime.
That has, has led to this idea of just, sort of constantly living through these unprecedented times, And that has led to some unique sense of humor for them.
And you'll see Philip talk a little bit about sort of the absurdist humor, or maybe some of the more edgy attitudes that they they really like. And I think a lot of that can be paralleled back to these moments that they have experienced throughout their life.
So talking specifically about that sense of humor.
Like I mentioned earlier, in the POV that we released earlier this year, we found that across all of those different generations, 81% of consumers like when brands use humor.
But really only 28% say that brands are actually connecting with their comedic sensibilities.
So we know that Gen Z is that next set of consumers, and that getting it right with their sense of humor is so important, How do we do that? How do we get it right, so that we can really connect with what matters to them.
And with that, I am going to turn it over to Philip to talk a little bit more about some of those details with their sense of humor and kind of what resonates with them.
Though, they often agree with the majority, Gen Z displays a stronger preference for certain types of comedy such as Dark Humor with edgy language, that leans away from anything to do with politics. So as we can see here with this community member.
At the bottom, they're expressing their preference for comedy that snarky, sarcastic, dry, I roddick dark and cynical.
When we asked them which brands seem to be getting it right, our Gen Z community members called out Wendy's as a brand that seems to strike the right, comedic chord with them through their Twitter account. So it delivers on that kind of edgy snarky humor that they're drawn to. And we can begin to see the impact that this can translate to. So we've got this example of a young Twitter user here who said: In relation to the Wendy's Twitter account. She said, I'm sorry, I'm 100% going to shop and through all of my money at a business who has a sense of humor on social media. Instead of one, that's uptight.
And I found myself having just like way more laughs and expected, as I browsed Wendy's, perfectly calibrated tweets.
It presents the branding this authentic way, through use of Les ... language and slang. Pushing the limits of what's commonly acceptable for large companies, and cleverly engaging with pop culture. So, they interact directly with competitors with that ... sense of humor. And even have followers ask them to be roasted by their account on national roast.
But, not all Gen Zs are alike.
Our clubs, the community, as a member, to fall on the younger end of the Gen Z range, so, 12 to 17 years old. And within this subset of the generation, we see some differences begin to emerge.
Where we saw the overall preference of Gen Z aimed at dark humor. We heard from our younger Gen Z that they are often drawn to acute lighthearted comedy. And that can sometimes come from clips of animals, are babies that are often involved in comedic pursuits.
So, this dark humor, it's still appreciate it, but best one is not meant as unkind or to harm those who serve as the punchline of these jokes.
We really wanted to understand what that meant. So we asked these younger members to share something that made them laugh recently.
So here on the left of the slide, you'll see in a second, we have an imagined pitch meeting for a Harry Potter movie that connects with a member's sense of wit and sarcasm, as it's starting to point out some of the storyline issues.
But importantly, as we just talked about, it does that in a way that doesn't seem malicious.
So as this community member says, they enjoy seeing all of these potholes shredded, but in a pretty gentle, upbeat way.
Next we've got South Park, so it's been around for ages, but still connex through their dark and edgy tone.
And this member here likes when a character named Kenny dies episode after episode, but this likely feels less cruel, as we've seen this younger cohort prefers, because this character miraculously Reappears each show after having died in the previous one.
And then our last example speaks to a very silly lighthearted meme which man walks on a tangle of plants across the surface of a lake.
And he has these exaggerated movements before he finally falls face first onto these plants.
So just the short goofy clip has been viewed 125 million times. So it's clearly delivering on the fun and light desires of some of our younger cohort.
Interestingly, as we got a great example as well of a brand hitting the right tone with these sort of niche. Sense of humor Clubs the member pointed to this Super Bowl ad from 20 21. That harnesses the cute humor of animals of all sorts singing and dancing, as they're enjoying flaming hot Doritos in Cheetos. So this commercials kinda clever and how it allowed for multiple levels of appreciation.
So from the animals beatboxing and creating music similar to the iconic Budweiser Frogs do those who could appreciate it, for the popular artists who are voicing, some of the singers in this commercial as well.
OK, so looking at a few key takeaways.
So we know the Gen Z is living through a roller coaster of events. And that's given this generation. A sense of humor that kind of leans toward the silly and absurd? So that's something definitely that should be leaned into as well. And second, as we've just seen, Gen Z is a very large cohort with a multitude of differences and preferences and life experiences across the younger and those older. So it's important to get specific on which cohort of Gen Z you're targeting, and then tailor your content appropriately.
Now, that we understand what makes us generation laff, let's dive a little bit more into where they're accessing unscripted comedy.
So while all age groups tap into video streaming platforms for comedy, younger groups often turn to social media, such as YouTube, Tiktok, and Instagram, for a quick laugh.
They enjoy the platform's reels. So these are short, compelling snippets of content that automatically provide a continuous content feed so that they're able to then quickly move from video the video. And as you can see here, gen Zs preference for tick tock outpaces that Millennials by nearly double.
So why is it they're drawn to these platforms? They say it's because these applications deliver on a need for convenience and highly personalized content.
So they can conveniently access this content from anywhere at any time with no cost and it can easily be bookmarked for further exploration later. And brief, easily digestible clips are ideal for those with short attention spans.
These platforms also use intelligent algorithms to understand the user's preferences and provide personalized, relevant content.
They also can search through a huge library of continually updated content that, not, it's not always available through other platforms. So, this can be reaction videos, challenges, pranks, or their preferred content creators.
Plus, if they know what's showing up on their phi P or there for you page, than other people with similar interests, interests, have already effectively said, Hey, this is something that's funny. And spending the time to watch the video has effectively been de risked for that.
In addition to understanding the type of comedy that resonates with them, and where they're watching, another key component is then also pinpointing specific comedians.
So, it's no surprise that this younger generation still some shares some affinity for big name comedians, that older generations also sparked too.
Kevin Hartz seems to have almost a universal appeal, but what's really interesting about this group is their special relationship with comedic content creators from social media and the world of podcasting as seen here by some of the Create creators community members pointed to.
And in spotify's recent culture next trends report, it indicates that through discord, chats, tiktok updates, texting, and even real-life interactions, disease are creating a new style of creator, fan relationship based, not on one-way admiration, but on mutual kinship.
But it's the smaller, emerging artists who are truly engaging one-on-one in the worlds they've built for their fans.
So, if you put together the importance, this generation places, on tiktok, and their affinity for creators, you can start to see a through line, we're creating a sense of community that engages Gen Z, is mutually beneficial and mutually beneficial dialogs. It's critical to understanding them.
The last piece of the puzzle in understanding Gen Z humor is recognizing that their political makeup also influences their opinions on the role of comedy in the brutal broader social arena.
We know that Gen Z largely identifies as being Democrat or independent, and this is so important, because we saw that people who lean more toward the Democrat side of the political spectrum, across all age groups are more likely to agree The comedians have a responsibility to come to comment on social and political issues and that comedians have a duty to prevent the spread of misinformation.
OK, so a few more takeaways.
Platforms that feature, short form content.
Lead the way with Gen Zs, who want to consume comedy.
So, expand your concept of immediate to ensure that you're capturing them where they are versus older cohorts.
Next, consider partnering with creators and their communities in a way that feels genuine and authentic, Invite Gen Z consumers to participate in building the brand as a conversation versus pushing content at them.
And, Kelsi, I'll hand it back over to you now.
Wonderful, thank you.
So the last portion that I am going to be talking about is specifically about the feedback that we got from Gen Z, on how we can make ads that resonate with them. And we use the technique where we asked Gen Z consumers in our Clubs and community to actually write a letter to some of their favorite brands. Offering those suggestions on how they could make an ad or an ad campaign that would resonate with them. that would connect specifically with their sense of humor and be something that they would enjoy watching. And that might actually influence some of their decisions when it comes to purchasing for brands.
The feedback that we got from these clubs, that consumers, was really five kind of, key pieces of advice, And the first piece of advice there was this idea of, Don't try too hard. And I think the example that's down here in the quote actually really brings that to life Where they're saying, My advice to brands is not to oversell. We appreciate smart humor that's not heavy handed, obvious, or beats us over the head, treat us like we're intelligent, were smart enough to get clever, understated humor.
And I think this really goes back to that idea of, you know, making sure that we're, we're not putting slang in there, that we don't understand. or that we're not kind of going over the top. Trying to, to relate to the kids. Were not being that meme that we saw at the top of our conversation of how do you do fellow kids.
It's about really kind of being a little bit more authentic and letting things come more naturally.
The second point was this idea of offering that sweet light hearted humor, that provides an escape from the intensity of daily life.
So we talk, at the top of the call right, about the fact that so much of the things that they've experienced in their life, so far, have been very intense. And that it has been this kind of roller coaster in their life of good things happening. And then bad things happening, And they're never really quite sure what's going to happen next in their life.
And so brands that can really connect to that light hearted humor, like we saw from the flaming Hot Doritos and the flaming Hot Cheetos example earlier, can do something that really connects with Gen Z in a way that allows them that sense of escapism. And then they're going to remember that that's going to be a brand that they connect with.
The third point was this idea of laugh at yourself.
And so saying that, brands need to laugh at themselves is really just kind of saying that brands shouldn't take themselves too seriously. And so in this case, Gen Z is basically saying, hey, we understand that, like truth is stranger than fiction sometimes, and the world's a little crazy. So don't be afraid to laugh at yourself. Don't be afraid to take some of those opportunities to kind of poke fun at yourself, and think about ways to, to bring your brand to the forefront. I mean, I think the Wendy's example that Philip was talking about earlier is another really great version of that, where Wendy's has said, Hey, you know, we are a serious brand, but at the same time, we have a sense of humor. And we can connect to our audience by poking fun at ourselves, kind of poking fun at some of the parts of the industry that we're involved in, and not really, as you saw resonates with a lot of people across a lot of different generations, but really specifically with our Gen Z consumers.
The fourth point that they offered was this idea of create a series of ads rather than just one, And so where this really comes from is the idea that they say, you know, we're seeing a lot of ads all the time. They're they're streaming things. And they're seeing ads in-between streaming things. And often times on a certain streaming platforms, you get the same ad multiple times in a row and so, what really stood out to them are those brand that can create multiple ads that fit within this larger campaign. And so, two of the examples that kind of rose to the top that basically mentioned.
We're the mayhem and the unbecoming your parents. And I know, I personally love the unbecoming your parents because it resonates with me. It makes me laugh, I can see a little bit of myself and a little bit of my parents in that. And Gen Z feels the same way, right?
They know that there are some funny things in there, And then progressive is also kind of making fun of themselves and the insurance industry at the same time, But it's easy to to not get bored with that. So even if they're seeing the same idea multiple times, at least the the storyline and the script within the ad itself is different enough. Each time, they're not getting bored with it.
They're not feeling like they're kind of being hit in the face with the same message constantly because there is enough variety in there.
Then, the fifth point that they provided to us was this idea of diversify authentically, and I think this goes to a couple of different things.
one is, as Philip was talking about, when we're talking with humor and we're talking about comedians, it's not just about using some of those mainstream comedians or creating sponsors from folks that maybe everyone across all of the different generations are going to recognize.
But also connecting with some of those smaller content creators, or just content creators in general, that are going to have a different platform, are going to have a different tone of voice, are going to connect with a different group of people.
But doing that in a way that doesn't feel forced and allowing those creators to really, to be themselves and, and to bring their own personalities, to the table.
That also goes in terms of diversifying with the different demographic elements, Right. And so not just having, you know, one person there, for the sake of having a person there who might be a little bit different from sort of the norm, if you will. But doing it in a way that connects with your brand and that it makes sense with your brand.
So that it does feel authentic so that it doesn't feel forced so that it doesn't feel out of left field.
Because Josey is really smart, they're going to be able to say, hey, I see what you're trying to do here.
And so that's why they're looking for those brands that are doing it in a way that feels very natural and doesn't feel.
Again, like, they're kind of trying to say, hey, we're doing something that is different in order to just be different, OK, so, then, the last piece in here is just kind of a recap of all of the different tips and tricks that we have talked about today.
So, as you'll remember at the top, we talked about, get a little weird, right, this group of consumers, this group with people, is unique, they've experienced a lot of different things. They feel like they're living through a variety of kind of weird unprecedented times. And so, their humor leans into that side. That's a little silly, maybe a little bit more absurdist. And so it's OK for brands to also play in that space. And, in fact, they kind of encourage it.
two, we talked about this idea that one size does not fit all. You know, the age gap right now between 12 year olds and 26 year olds is huge. And that does drive some differences in who they are.
So rather than kind of lumping them all together in one homogenous group, remember that they are very different people and that there are some nuances and some differences between our younger versions of the Cohort and our older groups, as well.
three was keep it brief, as we talked about, there's a lot of different things that are vying for their attention in this day and age. So anything that we can do, to keep it kind of short form, that we can do to keep it brief, that we can do, to make it you know, lighthearted, and capture their attention while they're on the go, we'll really staying with them.
And then four was that point of partnering with creators, as I just kind of reiterated.
They appreciate those brands that can partner with creators that can understand that where they're consuming the media and the people who have an influence on their life, are different from some of the people who really influenced the lives of other generations. And so, that idea of partnering with creators, both big and small in order to connect with Gen Z, is very important.
And so, with that, sir, Philip and I will turn our cameras back on, and we will pause for questions.
OK, so I'm seeing a few questions we've got here, Kelsi.
First one we've got, Are there any other recent brand campaigns that have resonated positively with this group?
Yeah, absolutely. That's a really great question.
I talked about the gentleman yens earlier in the call, which isn't technically a brand campaign, right? That was very socially lead, but I think another one that's really interesting is actually the Taco Bell and doctor Katzen collaboration. So as your cat is huge on Tech Talk, she's kind of everywhere on there. And is a huge fan of Taco Bell's Mexican Pizza. And so when Taco Bell decided to bring back the fan, favorite Mexican pizza, she did a collaboration with them where she was talking about it. She was really hyping up the launch and just making sure that everybody was really excited about it.
And it actually did very well. Not only was it big on Tiktok, where she got to generate lots of conversations. But it was also really big on Twitter and Taco Bell got to see some really great results in terms of selling out of those Mexican feed says.
And it was just something that I think did a really good job of hitting those points of connecting with their sense of humor. And then Doji cat, just in general, being on discord and tick tock and Twitter and being where these Gen Z consumers are so that You could connect with them in a way that felt very authentic because she was leading that conversation. She was also inviting them to comment to share their images and to do those things that were really kind of feeling like a two-way street.
Interesting, OK. Next question.
We've got Any additional tips on how to engage this particular audience when it comes to research?
Yeah, that's a great question. And so we talked a lot, of course, about our clubs and community, we've learned a lot about that. But we actually, also have an entire webinar that we did earlier this year. And so if folks haven't seen it, I encourage you to check that out.
We did it in partnership with Green Book. And the entire webinar is specifically dedicated to talking about conducting research with our Gen Z consumers. and how we can sort of capture their attention, What kinds of different types of research they like to do, and how that's different from doing research with some other generations, as well.
Gotcha, OK, it looks like we've got one more final question here.
Do you have any data on how this generation responds to brands who do or do not reflect their interest beyond humor?
Yeah, um, you know, that's another good one, too.
I think, if so, so at large has done lots of research on this topic. And really what we found is that the majority of consumers do connect more strongly with those brands that resonate with their values.
And, you know, we've talked today a lot about specifically connecting with their sense of humor and and sort of the things that make them laugh, But we also know that consumers find a little bit of themselves in their brands that they're choosing to associate with. And so brands that reflect their values, whether it be on topics of social justice, whether it be about having sort of those value lead or mission led brands that resonate with, sustained by those efforts as well. We do know that consumers connect very strongly with brands that bring those elements forward and that they feel like are sort of on the same level as themselves.
OK, great, well, it looks like we've got our questions wrapped up here.
Um, so it looks like, if there's any other questions anyone might have, feel free to e-mail Kell CRI, um, but we've got a few minutes in case there's any final ones that come in here. Otherwise I think we're, we're in good shape for the day here.
Alright. Awesome. Well, thank you, everybody, very much for attending our webinar today. I hope you learned a couple of new things about gen Z and about their sense of humor and how brands specifically can connect with that sense of humor at large. But also in how we're advertising to this consumer cohort. If you do have any additional questions, you can always drop them in the comment box here, or you can feel free to e-mail Philip or I. We will also send out the recording of today's webinar, for anyone who was unable to attend, so you'll have that. and you'll have the PDF of our presentation as well.