Every human generation boasts its defining characteristics, molded by influential societal factors like technology, political opinions, work ethic, morals, social viewpoints—the list goes on. These inherent common qualities among members of a generation directly affect the way marketers attempt to appeal to the consumers of that respective generation. Generation Z, also known as “Gen Z,” is the latest generation poised to influence the consumer landscape, as it encompasses those born between 1996 and 2014. With the rise of Gen Z as consumers, marketers are having to adapt in order to make viable pitches that Gen Zers will grab hold of.
Here are a few qualities of Generation Z that are causing marketers to revamp their approaches and messaging. Gen Z:
- Is the largest generation. Generation Z makes up approximately 24.3 percent of the U.S. population, according to 2016 U.S. Census estimates. That’s more than millennials (22.1 percent), Gen X (19 percent) and even baby boomers (22.9 percent). Though the majority of the Gen Z population is still younger than 18, the generation’s purchasing power is expected to reach $3 trillion by 2020. Heeding this fact is important for marketers looking to target the consumers who will soon dominate the market.
- Has always lived in the digital era. Gen Z has never lived without Internet, smartphones, tablets or even social media to a degree. Devices that were a luxury to previous generations are now standard. The fact that Gen Z has always been able to communicate essentially with the click of a button means that it is living in a smaller world than any previous generation. Gen Zers therefore value immediacy in their actions, driving marketers to think about how they can appeal to a generation that is not as easily impressed by technology as those that came before it.
- Grew up living cautiously. The majority of members of Generation Z grew up in a post-9/11 world—and one in which mass shootings continue to be more and more commonplace. This, combined with the fact that they have the ability to communicate in multiple ways from the comfort of their smart phones, means that Gen Zers are opting to just stay home. In fact, over the past 10 years, there has been a 38 percent decrease in the frequency with which 10th graders leave their homes without a parent to hang out with friends and a 19 percent decrease in the number of teens who get their driver’s licenses, according to Adweek. What this means for marketers: If your business model is such that it requires leaving the house, think about how you can model it as a place of comfort and safety—and where consumers can get something they can’t get at home.
- Faces high standards of success. Along with physical security, Gen Z has grown up in a world where financial security seems more like a luxury than a promise. Rather than relying on a company or higher-ranking individual to ensure their success, many Gen Zers are taking things into their own hands, opting to start their own businesses or capitalize on several talents by freelancing multiple jobs at once. Framing a marketing message to offer assistance to Gen Zers in these endeavors now proves a smart option.
- Is health-conscious. This one’s pretty straightforward: Gen Z cares more about their health than its older counterparts. This comes with society’s overall realization that fruits and veggies should be included in school lunches rather than sugary snacks and sodas—and the resulting changes that have been made as a result. Gen Z is even less likely to smoke cigarettes or drink alcohol compared to previous generations—especially with the ability to socialize from afar. So when it comes to advertising inexpensive, fried foods to teens out for a Friday night post-party drive—the net may not catch as many fish as it used to.
- Is more accepting of one another. Gen Z takes an attitude that already permeated the majority of millennials to an even higher height—the idea that gay, straight, black, white or anything in between, you’re a person on an even playing field with everyone else. For many in Generation Z, thinking about a day when gay marriage was illegal will seem antiquated and distant. Gen Z itself also comprises a diverse and multiracial group. That being said, members of Gen Z want to see brands that uphold similar values—and ones that give them the opportunity to support their fellow humans.
When it comes to the rise of Gen Z as consumers, marketers must take these defining traits into consideration in order to successfully appeal to the people who will soon comprise the majority of the country’s purchasing power.
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