Get to Know the Emerging Gen Z Consumer
It’s time to think about Generation Z very differently. The generation we define as today’s tech-savvy kids is no longer just a bunch of kids who love their phones. Born in 1995, the eldest of this unprecedented generation of 2 billion globally are turning 21 this year. As adults, these ambitious Gen Z will have a favorable impact on the global economy, particularly as consumers.
Growing up with infinite access to global issues and opportunities, Gen Z anticipates the day they become financially independent adults. Personal independence gives Gen Z a sense of control among uncertainty and the freedom to choose how they spend. That day is here. By 2020, Gen Z will comprise 40% of consumers in the US and is positioned to become the single largest group of consumers worldwide. The average US salary of an adult Gen Z will go from $16.90/week allowance to $50k-$70k/year salary , driving the $44B buying power up to $200B in a few short years. With the burn to earn a high salary and passion to consume information, products and experiences, Gen Z is becoming an influential and lucrative consumer segment.
So fellow marketers, 2016 is the year to stop speculating and start strategizing on how your brand will connect with the emerging Gen Z consumers. Here are a few of my latest consumer insights into Gen Z:
1. The Phone is The Third Eye
Think of digital access as the third eye, a sixth sense, a body part or an antenna. Since many were born into digital life, Gen Z knows no other life than a Wi-Fi life. Their world is seamless and fluid.A brand should be omnipresent with one consistent brand personality. Look at Spectacles by Snap, Inc.
2. Human Scanners
Gen Z has a 4-8 second filter that scans and critiques info from up to 5 screens at a time. This puts them in a “constant state of partial attention”. Yet self-directed Gen Z scans the many screens with an intention, becoming experts at cutting through extreme clutter, whether it’s digital or physical. With brains processing information at rapid speeds, a brand needs to feed the Gen Z mind very carefully and strategically: keep the content lean, make it visual and try to make an outstanding statement about your brand.
3. Lifestyle Seekers
A brand needs to earn Gen Z’s interest and one way is to represent a lifestyle that resonates with a Gen Z. Self-educating is so easy and because they are so inquisitive, they will learn what your brand stands for before choosing a specific brand or experience. They want a brand to inspire them to do something new, wear something different, and even live someplace new. Two examples of a lifestyle: Luka Sabbat models brands for the Steez lifestyle (style with ease); Chubbies’ short shorts provide a playful lifestyle.
4. “Stuff” & Experiences
Growing up through the Great Recession, Gen Z is skeptical of corporations and brands which is one reason Gen Z is as experience loyal as they are brand loyal (Uber). They’ve spent their allowances on food, technology and experiences. But higher purchasing power will enable independent Gen Z to buy more stuff – household items, clothing, accessories – without the financial concern they’ve grown up with. Gen Z consumers will purchase more items but seek out a newsworthy brand (Cover Girl) or an engaging brand experience. As Gen Z’s wealth increases, they will spend more time associating with premium brands and invest in luxury brands.
Any day now, your favorite Gen Z will be earning a good salary and living the independent adult life they’ve been working so hard to achieve. With all their ambition, need for validation and passion for consumption, Gen Z is destined to have strong earning power along with deep pockets. Marketing to Gen Z can be very challenging but if you develop marketing plans based on these behaviors, you are more likely to get Gen Z’s attention now that will translate into loyal consumers for the long run.