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Ronald Conlin and Steve Bauer Examine Impact of Guilt Advertising on Gen Z

August 25, 2021  | 1 min read

Ronald Conlin teaching outsideSeaver College professors Ronald Conlin, assistant professor of marketing, and Steve Bauer, assistant instructor of teaching of marketing, recently published the article “Examining the impact of differing guilt advertising appeals among the Generation Z cohort” in the International Review on Public and Nonprofit Marketing. The purpose of the study was to investigate the relative impact of advertising appeals on Gen Z students based on three different types of guilt.

“Findings indicate that advertising appeals eliciting existential guilt [“an awareness of a difference between one’s own and others’ well-being”] most motivate advertisement engagement and likelihood to donate among Gen Z individuals,” the study shares. “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.”

The findings of this study have practical implications for nonprofits, the primary users of guilt-driven advertisements, as benevolent habits early in life have been shown to have lasting effects. Gen Z is also an essential target for nonprofits because of the generation’s “high degree of social consciousness.” However, Gen Z has proved difficult to reach via advertising due to their short attention spans and desire for authenticity. This study demonstrates that advertisements utilizing a moderate level of existential guilt could be a viable avenue to reach them.

To read the full publication, view the article on the International Review on Public and Nonprofit Marketing website.