Seems like just yesterday everyone in the CPG and research world was talking about Millennials and their shopping habits. Today, the interest has shifted to a new generation of shoppers – Generation Z – as they enter the market and become the new target of interest.
So who is Generation Z and why should we care?
Gen Zers are the generation born between 1995 and 2015. They currently influence 93% of household spending, which accounts for $44 billion. By 2020, they will represent 40% of consumers with direct purchasing power. Clearly, they are a generation to watch.
While they share a lot of the same qualities as Millennials, they are already showing some key differences that marketers and researchers need to be aware of:
- They have a shorter attention span. Gen Zers have an 8 second attention span compared to 12 seconds for Millennials. These “digital natives” spend more time online and have learned to weed out information faster. That means marketers need to deliver their message very quickly, and researchers need to be creative with how to engage them.
- They are more likely to shop in brick and mortar. While Millennials tend to shop online exclusively, Generation Z prefers to shop in physical stores. This generation likes the in-store experiences to see and touch the product, and the human interaction / personal service of a sales associate. However, they expect the stores to provide a unique and engaging experience and they demand technology in store.
- They are more frugal, but have high demands. When it comes to loving a bargain, Gen Z is no different than the generations before. This generation was born during a recession, so are more conservative with their spending. When they do make a purchase, they want to be reassured of product quality. Customer service is also key.
What does this mean for marketers and researchers?
With Gen Z set to be the largest generation of consumers, it’s important that brands can connect with them early on. Of course, there is still more to learn about this generation, but these insights can help marketers and researchers reach and engage with Gen Z.
- Game on! Tap into their affinity for gamification, technology and visuals to engage them despite their short attention span. Marketing to Gen Z should be done via Social Media, specifically SnapChat or YouTube. Visual and interactive surveys are a must when doing research with this group.
- Don’t abandon brick and mortar. While marketers should continue to learn more about e-commerce, they can’t forget about the physical store and the shopping experience. The future is omni-channel. In-context research can provide insights into what’s working well and what should be improved to create an engaging experience for this generation of shoppers.
- Reassure they’re getting their money’s worth. Gen Z needs to know that the product they are buying will live up to its expectations. They do their homework and heed recommendations from trusted sources (family, friends, and social influencers). Marketing messages on quality or value are important, but only if they come across as authentic – Gen Z can spot a gimmick from a mile away. They will provide feedback and expect to be heard. Research to assess authenticity at all touchpoints – media, pack, product use, will be critical here.
To reach this new generation of buyers, in-context research will be needed to understand if your brand works in-store and online with the proper messaging. Packaging claims will need to be assessed for effectiveness and once in the hands of the consumer, product testing ensures repeat purchases. These truths and marketing tips may work on Gen Z but they are true across all generations. Market to one, you market to all.
Laura Dragone is a Research Director at PRS IN VIVO and has spent her career exploring human behavior and helping clients understand how their design approaches influence behavior. She is an expert in existing methodologies and has also piloted the development of many new approaches that uncover new insights. Always an enthusiast of learning, Laura has developed a strong team who are also seekers of answering the key question of “why?”