Study Identifies the 5 Expectations Consumers Share about Brands



New research from Disney|ABC, Omnicom, and Insight Strategy Group find commonalities from Boomers to Gen Z.

A common conundrum marketers face today is catering to a disparate audiences, many times spanning from Boomers to Gen Z. Brands find themselves in a never-ending cycle of chasing the needs, wants, and desires of each group, and then having to shape the message to fit the platform, which as we all know by now are constantly in flux, as well.

A new study, however, conducted by Disney|ABC Television, Omnicom Media Group, and Insight Strategy Group, sheds some positive light on the issue by identifying the ways in which these generations are alike, rather than how different they seem to be.

Their findings reveal that five themes: anxiety, visual media/video, family value, content as mood therapy, and loyalty, all apply when looking at 4,000 respondents representing Baby Boomers, Gen X, Millenials, and Gen Z.

“Consumers across all generations want and expect the same things from brands as they do of their friends and family—reliability, authenticity, and the feeling like the brands ‘get’ them and what’s important to them at this point in their lives—whatever that point may be,” explained Jonathan Steuer, chief research officer at Omnicom Media Group, told Campaign.

Here’s a breakdown of the report’s key findings, separated by major theme:


  • 70% of participants reported regularly keeping up with current events
  • 77% claimed “I worry about what the future holds”
  • 67% responded that they felt “my generation’s American Dream has been turned upside down.”

Family Value

  • 87% surveyed stated “family is the most important thing to me”
  • 82% claimed “my friends are like my family.”
  • Per the study, there is a general theme surrounding today’s parent-child relationship in which sharing media content brings them closer together. More parents are associating the activity with sharing a childhood memory. Gen Z and Millenials felt just as strongly about the correlation, with 38% claiming they influence what content their parents engage with.

Video / Visual Media

  • Half of the consumers surveyed said they use media clips as a regular communication mechanism.
  • As far as which generational group uses visual memes to interact with others the most, Gen Z-ers came out on top, followed by Millennials, Gen X-ers, and finally, Boomers.
  • Viewer influence is especially paramount these days with participants claiming that if they “love a video, show, or movie,” they will make sure their friends watch it, too.

Content as Mood Therapy

  • Respondents across the generations said that video provides them with identity and mood benefits. Specifically, 86% of Millennials and Gen Zers reported that they target their search for content based on how they’re feeling at that given time.
  • Certain life stages, like becoming a new parent and moving out, especially fuel the need for content that offers a type of mood therapy per the chart below.

Image via Campaign


  • Regardless of generation bracket, respondents claimed that key characteristics of brands that they’re loyal to include authenticity, reliability, and inclusivity.
  • 75% of those surveyed claimed that they’re most loyal to brands that make a tangible effort to put out relevant advertising and that is reflective of their personal values and interests.
  • While indeed there are fundamental difference amongst the various generations that can’t be ignored, it is also important for brands to establish a balance with the similarities that are common across them. As underscored by Slaine Jenkins, VP at Insight Strategy Group, “Right now, a lot is going on culturally that people are responding to in a united way. Specifically, an underlying desire for messages channeling security and comfort, a shared feeling of entrepreneurship, and a rising trend of engaging with media as dialogue and as a mood management system.”

    Looking to explore themes of data-driven marketing and/or the conflict between community vs. individualism? Be sure to join us at SMWNYC (April 24-27) at the Sheraton Times Square. Grab your pass today.

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