We talk a lot about Millennials. At the moment, they are the youngest adults, and so get a lot of attention as a target market.
But what about the post-Millennial generation, the so-called Generation Z? Teenagers have always been a desirable market for advertisers, but Gen Z is different, and less swayed by traditional advertising.
Born between the mid-1990s and mid- to late-2000s, this is the first generation born into the digital landscape. Their inherent fluency in technology is changing the way they see the world, interact with other people and make purchases.
Although the youngest Gen Z kids have only recently emerged from toddlerhood, the oldest already have some years of device-ownership and purchasing habits under their belts. Let’s check out how they spend their time online and how it influences their spending.
Generation Z, Technology and Shopping Preferences
The National Retail Federation (NRF), along with IBM, conducted a study on Generation Z’s technology preferences, “cyber-savviness” and economic influence. This is one of the largest studies on the generation, surveying more than 15,000 people across six continents.
It probably goes without saying that folks in Gen Z spend a lot of time with technology, and are very comfortable doing so. When asked how they spend their free time, 74 percent of participants said they went online. They also expect to move seamlessly between that digital world and the physical one, and aren’t as tolerant of glitches as older generations.
Smartphones are the most popular device at 75 percent, though younger Gen Z members are more likely than those aged 19 to 21 to use laptops and desktops.
What they do on those devices varies, though texting and chatting are certainly the most popular activities for Gen Z at 73 percent. Entertainment and gaming come next at 59 and 58 percent respectively. Although shopping and browsing came in at only 17 percent, we can assume that will grow as participants age.
When Generation Z does buy, it opts for quality. 66 percent of participants said quality mattered in a purchase. Where brand name used to drive loyalty, external factors now influence brand choice. 46 percent care about the recommendations of their friends, and 45 percent select brands that are eco-friendly and socially responsible.
Gen Z cares about the experience of shopping, too – 66 percent want very few items to be out of stock, and 65 percent expect bang for their buck and look for discounts, coupons and rewards programs. Fifty-six percent want the experience to be fun and not bore them.
Interestingly, 98 percent of this digital generation prefers to shop in brick-and-mortar stores, though this could be due to young age and less access to credit cards. Still, more than 75 percent are perfectly happy shopping online.
Generation Z is willing to share personal information online (62 percent will share purchase history, for example), but also expects transparency about how the data will be used. Establishing trust with them now is vital.
Further, be aware that Gen Z influences purchases made by others in the household, especially when it comes to food and beverages (77 percent), furniture (76 percent) and household goods (73 percent).
Reach Generation Z with Your Advertising
To help you better reach this young but increasingly influential generation, AdWeek provides six rules for advertising to Generation Z:
- Show off a weird, funny and relatable brand personality. Gen Z likes to see brands that can put some playfulness in front of their name.
- Be authentic (#NoFilter). The days of American Idol are over – teens are selecting their own stars, often self-made YouTube personalities rather than talent found by corporations.
- Have a cause, and show that buying your brand can make a difference. Gen Z is/will be more serious about this than previous generations.
- Understand that Generation Z uses a range of social media sites, and might present themselves differently on different platforms. Create environments where they can engage in genuine ways.
- Find the tribes of your Gen Z audience. These people have the ability to nurture a wide range of interests, and want to connect to others with similar mindsets. Facilitate that, but on their terms (Don’t know the terms? It’s better to ask than assume).
- Stand out from the clutter. Generation Z is surrounded by media and information, and has little patience for the irrelevant and slow-loading. You have to be creative, or they’ll tune out.
As teens often are, Generation Z can seem a little intimidating to the Baby Boomers, Gen Xers and Millennials. Keep in mind that Gen Z will continue to evolve as it ages, though will likely continue seeking authentic, purposeful interactions with brands. Stay creative and relevant, and you might just gain their loyalty.