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Marketing That Would Make Young Europeans Feel Positive About a Brand

Young Europeans want to see marketing that represents their values—and that means they want to see diverse and inclusive ads…


  • Gen Z and Millennials are skilled ad-skippers, but they’re not against seeing marketing that aligns with the causes they care about most
  • Young Europeans are tired of seeing “perfect” ads, and they want marketing that represents all body types
  • Ads featuring diverse races, genders, and abilities are also welcomed by these gens

Gen Z and Millennials consume more media than any generation before them, but that doesn’t mean they’re taking in all the marketing that media presents to them. Access to ad-blockers, ad-free entertainment, and the good old skip button has made it notoriously difficult for brands to reach these ad-adverse gens, who have become skilled at ignoring any marketing they don’t want to see. But beyond preroll ads disrupting their entertainment, these gens don’t want to see marketing that props up outdated stereotypes about identity, whether gender, beauty, race, or beyond. Gen Z and Millennials are passionate about inclusivity and diversity in all forms, and they expect brands to shift their marketing (and even products) to reflect these values.

While many brands are getting this right (hello, Nike, ASOS, and Old Navy), many  young Europeans still think that brands are releasing campaigns that don’t meet their standards: 58% say advertisements use stereotypes about their gender (62% among young females), and 46% agree that brands just don’t get people their age. Meanwhile, two in five young Europeans tell YPulse they’ve stopped buying from a brand because of an advertisement they didn’t like, underscoring just how important it is for brands to use their marketing to send the right message. So, how can brands win these gens over? In our recent behavioral survey, we asked 13-39-year-olds “Which of the following makes you think positively of a brand?” Here’s what they had to say:

Body positivity is a must for reaching young Europeans

YPulse has been following the body positive movement for years now, which has continued to gain momentum as Gen Z and Millennials broadcast their desire to have all shapes and sizes accepted, and to see more realistic—or simply real—representations of women in ads. Most recently, this movement has moved to TikTok, where body-positive content from women has been trending and the hashtags #selflove and #bodypositivity have earned 19.8 billion and 12.1 billion views, respectively. Meanwhile, across Western Europe, governments have been stepping in to end unrealistic beauty standards for women, including a member of the British Parliament that recently introduced a bill that would require influencers to call out their digitally-altered images. Most recently, the Spanish government released a body-positive campaign aimed at fighting stereotypes and “encourag[ing] women to go to the beach without fear of judgment.” Now, 70% of young Europeans say featuring models with a range of body types would make them think positively about a brand—and it’s the top thing brands can do to make these gens view them in a positive light.

Meanwhile, the majority of young Europeans say that they would think negatively about a brand if it used Photoshop in an ad. Three-quarters of young Europeans tell YPulse they’re tired of seeing only perfect/polished images in advertising and that brands over-Photoshop their photos, indicating that they want to see real people in ads, whatever their shape or size.

Young Europeans want to see diversity in all forms

Gen Z and Millennials are the most diverse generations in history, with half of these groups identifying as BIPOC—and they want to see this diversity represented. In our Representation in Action trend report, the majority of (North American) 13-39-year-olds told YPulse it’s important for brands to talk about representation. And while strides have been made to improve inclusion in media and marketing over the last decade, these generations are looking for more—and are happy when brands oblige. 66% of young Europeans say they’d think positively about a brand if its marketing featured diverse models, while 64% would think positively if they saw an ad with an interracial couple. Meanwhile, the majority would think negatively about a brand if they only featured Caucasian people in an ad.

But diversity isn’t all about race. Gen Z and Millennials are at the forefront of the movement to destigmatize disability and are pushing to see more differently-abled people featured in media of all sorts, with 66% saying they would think positively about a brand if an ad featured a differently-abled model. Brands that are doing this are already winning favor with these gens. British retailer ASOS, for instance, was roundly applauded last year after showcasing an earring model with a hearing device. Meanwhile, Benefit Cosmetics got kudos when it introduced an Irish model with Down’s Syndrome as a brand ambassador.

Though these moves can feel controversial, these days, it’s imperative that brands break out of the status quo and reach young consumers with inclusive marketing.

YPulse Western Europe Business users can access the full WE Ad/Marketing Effectiveness behavioral report and data here.

Don’t have a YPulse Western Europe Business account? Find out more here.