CivicScience | Go With What You Know: Gen Z Prefers Product Placements Over Traditional Advertising

Media & Entertainment

Go With What You Know: Gen Z Prefers Product Placements Over Traditional Advertising

Image Credit: Photo by Jens Mahnke from Pexels

The Gist: While over half of the 13+ U.S. population feels neutral or just doesn’t have an opinion about product placements in TV shows and movies, a significant portion—25%—say these placements place the show and the product under a negative light for them. Yet a prominent portion of the population says they think it’s better than traditional advertising. We break down the groups and tell you who they are and who should notice.


You may notice product placements when consuming media: maybe a branded cup in the hand of the star of that Netflix show you’re bingeing. Maybe while sitting (in the reclining chair, of course) at the movies, you notice a placement in the background of the shot. Some product placements in TV and cinema can be subtle—others maybe not so much—and they seem to crop up the more you watch. But, overall, do people mind seeing them? What’s the experience like for viewers and how does it leave them feeling about the brand they see featured? What’s the impact? How and when should brands take this into consideration?

After seeing the topline results, let’s start with age groups.

The 17% That Consider Placements a “Good Approach” skew younger.

Under 18-year-olds —Gen Z—are down for this approach and prefer it over traditional advertising. They are less likely to be against this form of getting products out there, and it got us thinking—maybe it’s because it’s what they know; it’s what they’ve been brought up with.

The ‘Neutral’ Crowd is an Older Crowd

The group un-phased by product placements when viewing a show or movie is more likely to be between ages 33 and 54.

The 25% who say product placement have a negative impact on the opinion of a brand or show/movie…are Millennials.

18-34-year-olds are more likely to answer this than the general population. This surprised us. Maybe Millennials are jaded?

Looking for any difference in gender, we found that men are more likely to answer “I think it’s a good approach to use, better than traditional ads” than women are.

So, how could marketers at brands use this data? We found a ton of correlations in food and sports fandom for the two groups we’ll focus on: product placements are positive and product placements are negative.

Group 1: Product Placements are Positive

Fast food and fast casual chains should cash in and embrace product placements because people who like placements…

  • Are more likely to eat out for lunch
  • Regularly eat out or order take-out for dinner
  • Eat at fast food chains regularly
  • Eat most often at casual restaurants

It’s also worth mentioning that NFL fans are more likely to think positively of product placements. Hello, primetime.

Group 2: Product Placements are Negative

The part of the population who is not a fan of these placements are definitely the opposite of the those who see them in a good light, because more likely to:

  • Buy organic food
  • Eat at local restaurants and favor restaurants with quality ingredients
  • Eat lunch at home
  • Search for recipes online

In this case, conversely, NHL fans are more likely to think negatively of product placements.

Media Consumption Insights:

  • Frequent movie-goers are more likely to feel positive about product placements, as are viewers of home, cooking, and travel shows
  • Netflix users are more likely to feel neutral about product placements
  • TV documentary fans are more likely to answer ‘It makes me feel negative about the show and/or product’
  • TV drama fans are more likely to answer ‘I don’t mind it / I feel neutral about it’

The Future

Will regular advertising eventually go away as Gen Z, who favors product placements, gains more spending power? They are the future, after all. Food chains, especially, should take note of this phenomenon. 

Now that you know a little about CivicScience, tell us about you!

  • Hi, my name is
  • and I work for
  • .
  • You can contact me at
  • to keep me in the loop about the latest insights.

Explore More from CivicScience

Finance Finance
Health Healthcare
Hospitality
Media Media & Entertainment
Politics
icon-retail Retail
Technology