Everyone in early grade-school through college at this time are considered Gen Z. And they all make or influence purchase decisions.
Marketers who focus only on demographics and assumptions will miss out with these consumers. Their views, philosophies and expectations are different than any other generation.
This generation sees life online and offline as a single experience, a continuum. No surprise, they don’t put their phones down for conversations. And they continue to use tech while in retail stores. Marketers need a new mindset to connect with Gen Z.
Don’t make them an afterthought
Pew Research Center says Gen Z is anyone born from 1997 through 2012. This covers 72 million individuals — but it’s difficult to apply data to a group so young. They can’t be ignored, though. Gen Z makes up about a third of the global population today, outnumbering Millennials.
Most still live at home and spend their parents’ money. They get an average of $16.90 a week in allowance. Combine that with a bit of income from various types of jobs and gifts and this generation has $40 billion in spending power.
More importantly? Gen Z teens influence family spending to the tune of $600 billion a year.
And Their Parents?
For the most part, Gen Z’s parents are Gen X. The older generation is worried the Social Security fund they’ve paid into won’t be there when they retire. And a significant number of those parents grew up with divorce. They view social institutions differently, even negatively. But they’re highly educated critical thinkers, which makes them open to letting their kids take different paths.
Most importantly, Gen X parenting evolved from a traditional top-down authoritarian approach to a feeling-centric, listening-oriented collaboration.
Those parents value the opinions of their Gen Z kids. Marketers don’t just have to appeal to the keepers of the purse strings — the kids have a say in big decisions. When they convince their parents to spend money, it’s more than on toys and clothes. They have a say in vacations, groceries and major household items.
Ambitiously, responsibly unemployed
In 1978, 60% of teens had summer jobs. Now it’s only 35%. But just because today’s teens don’t lifeguard, flip burgers or babysit doesn’t mean they’re irresponsible or lazy. Gen Z spends a lot more time in classes and extracurricular activities than their parents. They’re motivated by future success rather than immediate finances.
The oldest Gen Z kids are set on being leaders, not employees. Many grew up during a recession and saw their parents struggle — now they want to create a path to personal entrepreneurial success.
Gen Z expects brand messaging to be as personalized as social media. What shows up on their devices has always been informed by algorithms and personal data — advertising has to be as relevant. And they appreciate value, bringing deals and discounts to their parents’ attention.
Beyond looking for bargains, Gen Z demands quality and loves luxury. Millennials tend to spend on experiences. This generation is focused on stuff. They buy more clothes, shoes and accessories than Millennials. They devote 58% of their budget to tactile, physical objects for gifts. But they’re not brand-loyal. If dissatisfied, 52% switch to a higher quality product.
Social is a sales channel
Gen Z trusts their peers on social media. They listen to bloggers, vloggers, Tweeters and Snapchatters. Marketers that want to reach them should know that 70% of successful brands use Instagram influencers.
The generation admires self-awareness and authenticity. And they buy from brands that prioritize it, too. Gen Z grew up in a selfie world, but they recognize, value and demand realism. While their parents strive for perfection on social media, Gen Z shares #NoFilter and #NoMakeup posts.
More opportunities for marketing
Gen Z isn’t solely digital. Almost all of them (98%) shop in brick-and-mortar stores, twice as much in person as online. But they never disconnect. While in-store they text friends and family for opinions and check with social media before they buy something.
Because Gen Z is not influenced by salespeople. They have plenty of information at their fingertips and none of it involves sales pitches. Brands need to capture their attention fast, online and off.
Successful marketers create a continuum between digital, physical, and in-person touches to reach Gen Z. Retailers have to track online behavior to inform digital and print campaigns. Geo-fencing sends digital notifications, deals, and alerts to people when they’re near a physical location. For Gen Z, it’s one connected buyer’s journey.
Make it personal
They’re unique. They’re gritty. They’re always online. And they expect instant, continuous access to brands and products. That means clever, realistic, personalized marketing — both digital and physical. Gen Z are open-minded and adaptable. They expect brands to be that way, too.
Read the full report on Gen Z and their parents here.