Study: Cause-driven Gen Zers expect a lot from brands
- Gen Z is the first generation fully comfortable online and offline with a demonstrated ability to simultaneously utilize digital, physical and hybrid tools, according to a report by business intelligence platform PSFK. The report surveyed more than 500 Gen Zers and millennials to uncover the differences in the generations' values, priorities and behaviors.
- The survey also shows that Gen Z is a driving force in the pending shift in tech use, especially compared to millennials, who are 15% more likely than Gen Zers to use desktops and laptops for online activity. More than one-third of Gen Z respondents said they're always online via their smartphones, and 60% believe online friendships are just as powerful as real-life relationships.
- Brands have a learning curve ahead of them in understanding Gen Z and how the generation characterizes its identity, community and goals. Overall, Gen Z has a strong sense of purpose and feels connected to important causes, and 69% think brands should help them achieve their goals. Thirty percent have felt excluded by brands because of their identities.
The big takeaway from the report is that if marketers haven't already thought about how to take their cause-marketing efforts to the next level, they need to start doing so soon, as Gen Z expects the companies they do business with to not just pay lip service to causes but have an authentic and meaningful strategy that reflects a brand's core values. Additionally, this generation of consumers is more mobile-focused than previous generations, meaning marketers need to craft strategy with a mobile-first mindset.
Members of Gen Z consider themselves open-minded and socially conscious, are commonly resistant to traditional views of race and gender and are confident in their own abilities to bring about positive societal change. Mental health and well-being are important to Gen Zers, and the PSFK survey found that 94% participate in health and lifestyle activities.
Brands that position themselves as educators, curators or collaborators have a strong chance of engaging Gen Z members, who are 10x more likely than millennials to expect brands to provide them with educational content, per the survey. When it comes to product recommendations, 22% of Gen Z are more influenced by peer recommendations than advertising, compared to 17% of millennials.
Most Gen Zers, those born between the mid-1990s and the mid-2000s, don't remember a time before the internet, so they spend most of their free time online, and 73% use mobile devices to text and chat with friends and family, according to a study by the National Retail Federation and IBM's Institute for Business Value. Gen Z consumers also look for opportunities to engage with brands — 42% said they would play an online game for a campaign and 43% would participate in a product review.
Along with their unique characteristics, strong expectations for brands and a willingness to engage digitally, Gen Z makes up 25% of the population, holds more than $44 billion in buying power and are often their families' purchasing decision-makers. Learning to understand what makes Gen Zers tick, rather than repurposing millennial-focused strategies, is key for marketers as they create products that connect with Gen Z's values, identities and strategies for reaching them in an authentic way.