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Examining the impact of differing guilt advertising appeals among the Generation Z cohort

Abstract

Generation Z (Gen Z), consisting of individuals born between 1995 and 2010, is an important target for nonprofits due to the cohort’s high degree of social consciousness. However, Gen Z consumers are challenging to impact via advertising appeals due to their short attention spans. Our research investigates the relative impact of advertising appeals based on reactive guilt, anticipatory guilt, and existential guilt on Gen Z students at a West Coast private university. The study fills a research gap by comparing all three types of guilt in one study and examining their effect on Gen Z vs. non-Gen Z individuals. Student groups at a private university in the U.S. are tested using a within-subjects experimental design. Findings indicate that advertising appeals eliciting existential guilt most motivate advertisement engagement and likelihood to donate among Gen Z individuals. In addition, the effect of existential guilt is stronger in the Gen Z cohort than non-Gen Z ones, and particularly high among women vs. men. Results are valuable to nonprofits seeking to make inroads on charitable giving with Gen Z.

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Acknowledgements

The authors are deeply grateful to Mr. Marc Vinyard, Research and Instruction Librarian at Pepperdine University, for his outstanding assistance throughout the project.

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Correspondence to Steven Bauer.

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Appendix

Appendix

See Fig. 1 and Table 12.

Fig. 1
figure 1figure 1

Tested advertisements

Table 12 Variables tested in study

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Conlin, R., Bauer, S. Examining the impact of differing guilt advertising appeals among the Generation Z cohort. Int Rev Public Nonprofit Mark 19, 289–308 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12208-021-00304-4

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s12208-021-00304-4

Keywords

  • Generation Z
  • Charitable giving
  • Advertising
  • Guilt