Currently Generation Z is on the verge of passing Baby Boombers, Gen X, and others to become the largest segment (by percentage) of the world’s population. Marketers and retailers are already beginning to focus on this generation and how to reach out to them. Gen Z is estimated to compose of nearly a third of the global population by 2019, being about the same size but just a sliver larger than Millennials. The two combined will be about 2/3 of the world population by 2019.
Because of that, the rush to market to Gen Z is on since whoever figures out how to do this effectively will have a huge leg up on the competition who doesn’t. The oldest members of Gen Z will be just out of university or preparing to graduate from university. Moving forward by just after 2020 it is estimated that Generation Z could be up to 40% of all active consumers, making them all the more important.
What does this translate to in numbers?
Well, early estimates say it will be $44 to $60 billion depending how you measure, and as the older generations continue to age and more of Generation Z comes into the workforce, those numbers are likely to continue to grow. As usual, marketing is on top of trying to learn what moves this generation, how they think, and what behaviours give specific clues as the best strategies to reach out to them in an effective way.
Even More Tech Focused
Since Generation Z were all born after 1995 they are the first generation that has grown up in a world that 100% had advanced online technology. To them the Internet, mobile phones, and similar tech older generations watched develop and consider cutting edge have always been there for them. They were raised with smart phones, raised with social media, and are even more tech-focused than Millennials.
This goes beyond just being familiar with tech. While many Millenniels use laptops for video and web surfing and smartphones just to bridge gaps while away from home, nearly three-quarters of Gen Z use smartphones for everything. This is the first device for shopping, streaming, communicating, and more. The phone isn’t just a mobile stop-gap but it is the main operating tool for everything. That goes from posting on social media to communicating with friends to even creating, editing, and sending documents. All from the phone.
Authenticity Still Matters
This began to become apparent with the youngest Gen-X’ers, continued more strongly through Millennials, and that trend has only grown even stronger. Authentic messages matters. They want to know a brand’s personal mission, they believe in “trust ambassadors” when making buying decisions, and having grown up with the Internet and constant advertising means that they can see through all the old marketing tricks, ploys, and anything unauthentic. They want relationships and to feel their opinion is valued. That’s why working somewhere like a creative video agency is usually a top hit with Gen Z, as it gives them the opportunity to create relevant content. Ultimately, they don’t want to be “marketed at” or “pitched to.”
Very Financially Conservative
Like many Millennials, Gen Z was affected massively by the Great Recession. They saw parents struggle. They saw brothers, sisters, cousins, entire communities struggle. They’ve seen that even a decade later, many of those things have never recovered. More than any other generation since the Great Depression, they tend to be very financially conservative. They don’t spend money on a whim. You have to give them a reason.
They know from a young age about wage stagnation, about high unemployment, about student loan debt struggles. This makes them very cautious when it comes to spending and more than happy to save. Because of this, they are very big on only spending money with brands they feel provide great value and they feel they have a relationship with.
One thing about always being connected – they’ve grown up having to multi-task all the time. They do this well, but also get distracted well. There are tons of things always vying for their attention and they are experts at skimming information fast and deciding whether to interact, put away, or ignore. Switching between tasks, paying attention to multiple screens at once, and making snap decisions is a common feature of Gen Z. You have less than eight seconds to get their attention. Make it count or lose their attention for good.
This is a unique challenge and also indicates the importance of creativity and visual art to get and keep attention and build fast trust.