Move over, Millennials—Generation Z is rising in buying power and here to make its mark. This generation can seem like a mystery to many marketers, which often means a lack of focus on and attention to this increasingly powerful group. Sure, we know how important millennials are, but this new demographic makes up over one quarter of the American population, representing roughly 1.5% more of the population than millennials!
So why is it so important to differentiate Gen Z? They can’t be that different from millennials, right? Wrong.
Unlike millennials, this hyper-connected group of young adults and teens born after 1995 doesn’t remember a time before internet, cell phones, apps or social media, making the world they grew up in much different than the generations before them. They use five different screens and devices each day, and 90% of them would be upset if they had to give up their internet connection. Collectively, they spend $44 billion a year and influence nearly $600 billion in family spending. In just 2 years, they will account for 40% of all consumers, making them impossible to ignore.
So what do you need to know about Gen-Z?
Their favorite way to spend money is on food and drink.
We all know teenagers love to eat, so it only makes sense that a large portion of their allowance or earnings is spent on their favorite foods and beverages. At 24%, this is the single largest spending category for this generation, according to research by CNBC. Great news for fresh produce marketers!
They’ll give you 8 seconds to grab their attention.
Their attention spans are small because they have to be. They have developed “eight-second filters” from growing up in a digital age where options are limitless, but time is not. With the world at their fingertips, they have learned to quickly filter out irrelevant information, making attention-grabbing content essential.
They are do-gooder entrepreneurs.
72% of high school students dream of owning their own business, and more than a quarter of teenagers today are volunteering for causes they believe in. This is in part due to their desire to achieve financial stability while pursuing a career that taps into their interests and passions. This means they will likely connect to the “good” of what our industry grows and our passion for what we do.
They want privacy online.
Facebook is losing its teen audience to more private social platforms such as Snapchat, Secret, and Whisper that allow them to share personal stories with friends less publicly. In fact, only 9% of teens say Facebook is their preferred form of social media.
They are skeptical.
Being internet experts has benefits, but it also means Gen Z-ers know a lot of the typical "tricks" companies try to use on them. Their desire for privacy and their natural skepticism provide a challenge for marketers who are trying to connect.
Personal connection is what they value.
61% said they would feel better sharing personal information with brands if they could trust it were being securely stored and protected. This makes personal connection and brand understanding absolutely essential for successfully reaching this group.
They want to make a difference.
3 out of 4 Gen Z-ers are concerned about humanity’s impact on the planet and 60% want their career to have a positive impact on the world. This indicates that it would be beneficial for brands to tap in to these humanitarian viewpoints by aligning with the Gen Z desire to buy ethically sourced and sustainably produced products. Furthermore, brands could strengthen their socially responsible image by supporting causes that align with company values.
They trust social influencers.
Sure, teens are influenced by celebrity endorsements, but being part of such a social and internet-centered generation, it’s no surprise that social media influencers have an equal impact. Just another reason why influencers are such an important piece of marketing!
The first wave of Gen Z-ers has already graduated, and they are beginning to take the economy by storm. Whether they start their own businesses or work for non-profits, they want to make a difference and use technology to do so.
Companies and businesses can no longer afford to ignore Generation Z, so it is time we stop lumping this unique and powerful generation in with millennials; Gen Z-ers have their own characteristics—and a purchasing power that is growing exponentially. It is important to realize that because traditional marketing methods won’t work on this group of tech-savvy teens, digital channels will be key to building Gen Z engagement with your brand.
We’d love to hear about how you think Gen Z will change the way marketers reach their target audiences! Tweet us @thecoreblog and let us know your thoughts.