Is Your Brand Set Up for Success with Gen Z?
Gen Z is the generational group born between 1996-2010, which makes them currently aged 11-25. Their direct estimated buying power is over $140 billion, and their additional indirect influence on household spend is between $166 -$333 billion.
Unlike previous generations, this group is considered “digital native,” meaning they grew up with ubiquitous technology. In fact, when the iPhone launched in 2007, the oldest Gen Zer was 11 years old! They expect constant connectivity, high speed internet and on-demand entertainment.
As this group now enters adulthood, brands should be taking notice. Now more than ever, it’s important to ask – is your brand set up for success with Gen Z?
Below is a summary of what sets Gen Z apart and what they are looking for in brands.
The First Digital Native Generation
First, let’s really understand what “Digital Native” means and why it is important. According to a 2018 Pew Research Study, 95% of 13-17-years-olds had access to a smartphone and were active across several social media platforms:
- 85% use YouTube
- 72% use Instagram
- 69% use Snapchat
- TikTok has also recently taken off, with 54% of Gen Z indicating they already have an account or are likely to open an account
This group is not only socializing online but also investing, getting informed and learning online. They have more access to information and sources than any other generation, and therefore their expectations of what they find online, the benefits of technology and how they process the information is different. One thing is unequivocally clear – leveraging technology in different ways and having a strong digital presence is an absolute must for any brand.
Gen Z Expects Transparency from Brands
The uncontrolled access to information – good and bad – has made this group more cautious on what and who they trust. They want brands that are authentic and true to their product and social claims. In other words, don’t say you stand for sustainability if your operations indicate otherwise – these are things that can easily be investigated and validated online.
The desire for transparency manifests itself in two ways:
- Gen Z is more interested in company values and what the company stands for beyond the product it sells. According to a recent study, 72% are more likely to buy from a company that contributes to social causes. This group wants to make sure that what they are buying is in support of their views and concerns, including mental health, civic engagement, racial equality, environment, etc,. They are more selective and demand more answers because they have more choices and information online.
- Gen Z also relies heavily on online reviews – 68% read at least three reviews before purchasing a product, and 70% indicate they have written reviews. Ratings and reviews are the new “word of mouth,” and what others say online carries a lot of weight with this group.
Gen Z Values Diversity & Individuality
Gen Z is the most diverse population. According to Pew Research, 25% are Hispanic, and 35% know someone who uses gender-neutral pronouns. In general, they are more accepting of societal change, with 48% indicating same-sex marriage is good for society.
Rather than seeking idealized depictions, 82% of Gen Z is more likely to trust a company that uses images of actual consumers. They want to hear and see real people. The movement to unapologetically embrace individuality has been evident in several recent viral campaigns against unrealistic beauty images and photoshopping.
Gen Z Seeks Engagement & Personalization
Gen Z is a highly-active community that wants to be engaged online by brands. They not only write reviews, but also are willing to share their ideas with companies. According to a recent IBM study, over 40% indicated they were willing to submit ideas for product designs or participate in an online game for a campaign. Not surprisingly then, brands that top the list for Gen Z adults are those that include them in the discussion and facilitate on-demand personalization, such as Google, Netflix, YouTube and Amazon.
Hyper-Convenience Is Key for Gen Z
Interestingly, brick & mortar stores are still king for convenience. In fact, 67% of Gen Z prefers shopping in-store. It is a place where they can physically research and discover new products.
But they also favor tools that allow for a faster, seamless and customized shopping experience. For this group, finding creative ways to deliver something new or allow them to express themselves in a retail environment is meaningful.
Overall, Gen Zers are a diverse, digitally-engaged group who are skeptical of online information and look for brands that align with their world views and deliver seamless on-demand personalization in-store and online. This group makes up about a quarter of the US population and, as they enter adulthood, are the future buyers of brands. Understanding their needs and motivations is key to maintaining brand relevance and winning in the marketplace in the long run.