Gen Zers drop destination retail, auto brands from the conversation, study finds
- Apple, its iPhone line of smartphones and Coke are the three most talked about brands among Gen Z, according to a new study by Engagement Labs. The remaining top eight brands based on the percentage of teens talking about them on an average day are: Samsung, Nike, McDonald's, Walmart and Pepsi, respectively. Despite Coke and Pepsi's placements, conversations have decreased 21% for Coke and 49% for Pepsi since 2013.
- Conversations around auto brands have also dropped significantly in that period. Retailers Nordstrom, JCPenney, Kohl's, Macy's, Kmart, Sears and TJ Maxx had some of the biggest declines over the last five years. Youth-centered apparel brands like Aeropostale, Hollister, Abercrombie, Reebok, Converse, Vans and Puma saw major dips as well. However, chatter around 7-Eleven increased more than 300%, while Aldi's, Walgreens and CVS also saw double- and triple-digit gains.
- Gen Z shows a preference for ride-sharing and "walkable" local restaurants and shops, shunning destination retail and auto brands in favor of companies like 7-Eleven and Starbucks. Other brands, including Ace Hardware, Scott Tissue, Breyers Ice Cream and Post, receive more attention than they did than five years ago. Gen Z talks more about political and cultural topics like environmental sustainability and just talks more overall, with 13.4 conversations about products and services per day — about 30% more than consumers age 21 and older.
Gen Z continues to be a difficult age segment for marketers to pin down, but one that will only become increasingly vital to their business, as the age group is forecast to have more than $143 billion in spending power by 2020. Gen Zers will also make up 40% of all U.S. consumers by that year, per data cited in the Engagement Labs report.
The new study suggests that Gen Zers are continuing trends as the first truly digital-native generation that were initially accelerated by millennials. Millennials, for instance, are often viewed as helping to "kill" traditional mainstay categories like big-box retail and automotive in favor of e-commerce and digital channels.
The high ranking of brands like Apple and its iPhone product on Engagement Labs' list underpins how Gen Zers are similarly focused on mobile-first experiences and value technology. The vast majority of Gen Z members own smartphones, but only 22% use the devices to make purchases, and many prefer to interact with brands in-person, according to a study by UNiDAYS and Ad Age Studio released earlier this month.
In contrast to the Engagement Labs research, Foursquare and Carat also recently ran a study that found Gen Zers are 23% more likely to visit shopping malls than other generations. Gen Z's preference for brick-and-mortar differs from millennials, who have tended to embrace online-only and mobile shopping, per the study. Retailers that see success in marketing to Gen Zers, however, are those that blend in a mobile component to the in-store experience, such as Zara and Sephora.