Millennials may still be making all the headlines, but their successor—Generation Z—is quickly growing up and gaining leverage. Generation Z encompasses the market’s up-and-coming purchasers who are poised to promote their expanding spending powers. So what can we learn about the tech-savvy young people who will account for 40 percent of all consumers by the year 2020?
Born after 1995, the first wave of Gen Z kids is already entering the workforce. Analyzing a whole swath of people can be a tricky business, but as with any generation, Gen Z can be defined by certain traits and common themes found among its members.
Similar to millennials, one of the biggest influences on the next generation is the digital age. But unlike their predecessors who can generally remember a time before the term “always on” was mainstream, Gen Z has never known an unplugged world. Many of these kids were coming of age when the iPhone changed the mobile market, putting computers in the pockets of consumers.
Beyond technology, other themes have begun to surface. Gen Z kids saw their parents deal with the Great Recession and place a great emphasis on security. Unlike millennials, they may be driven more by paychecks than purpose.
Gen Z kids are competitive. Esports, gamification, and other technology-driven trends will highlight Gen Z’s desire to win. Similarly, this trait seems to promote a more independent nature than has been observed in millennials, who favor teamwork and collaboration.
But despite preferring to get the job done on their own, Gen Z individuals are loyal. These young people have grown up “following” and “liking,” and due to their frugality, they will most likely job-hop less than the previous generation.
Regarding some of their habits, data tells us a lot. Here are some insights on how this generation uses its time and what these individuals look for when spending their money:
35 percent spend more than five hours a day on their phones
Generation Z watches an average of 68 videos per day, and videos and visual media are the preferred methods for learning
Only 45 percent of Generation Z watch cable TV on television
More than 50 percent of Gen Z report that Snapchat is the social app they use most, compared to only 19 percent citing Facebook (see graph)
Image source: Emarketer: What Retailers Need to Know About Generation Z (2019)
90 percent are consuming branded content
This generation likes aesthetics—when shopping for a product, 93 percent care if the product looks good
77 percent like ads showing “real people in real situations”
42 percent seek out ads before buying something
Politically, Gen Z is tuned in and leaning liberal, 70 percent believe that the government should do more to solve problems
Almost half of Generation Z is non-white—the most diverse US generation yet
These young people are exploring new gender norms more than any previous generation
Image source: AdAge - Gen Z: Preparing to Face the Future (April, 2019)
Now that we know a few things that make Generation Z tick, what are some smart strategies for reaching these young consumers? Here are a few ideas:
This one is simple. Do you have a YouTube account, and are you regularly producing videos as content? If not, start now. As stated above, Generation Z loves videos, and 95 percent report that they’re using YouTube.
Generation Z quickly tires of the perfect lifestyles portrayed on Instagram. In fact, many studies have been reporting an increase in depression and anxiety in teens, brought on in part by the influence of social media and the constant pressures it promotes. In pushback to this troubling trend, Generation Z responds positively to the representation of diverse people and authentic situations.
Generation Z wants to be courted and regaled with entertaining tales, seeing consumption not only as an ethical concern but as an expression of individuality. This means that thoughtful, engaging marketing tactics will appeal to them most.
Be a brand that Generation Z wants to work for and connects with on a deeper level. However, being socially conscious or mission-driven is not solely a box to check. It is something that needs to be built into the foundation of a company—found in its values, the people it hires, and how the business is run every single day. You cannot fake this–nor should you try.
To successfully reach Generation Z, brands should start thinking about their “why.” This seems simple but requires great reflection followed by consistent and genuine action.
To hear more about leading with “why” and how it changes the way consumers see and interact with your brand, watch the TED talk, “How great leaders inspire action” by Simon Sinek.
As Generation Z continues to mature in the market, it will be interesting to see how these themes shift or if they will remain constant throughout the coming decades. More than ever, in the evolving digital space, marketers must have a hold on their data and use numbers to gain insight into the mindset of consumers.
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