Fresh from my panel at the Marketing to Gen Z Conference in New York, I reached out to several business contacts that I thought would be eager to hear about this up-and-coming generation. Instead, I was met by assumptions and a lack of curiosity about these consumers born between 1996-2010.
My main takeaway for my readers about Generation Z is that NOW is the time to learn about them and create your market strategies for reaching them. The perception has been that this is a generation “10 years away” from having an economic impact. In truth, that perception is about 10 years old. In the meantime, Gen Z has grown up. Gen Z are not little kids, as an even younger group, Alpha Gen, makes up the youngest group of children (ages six and younger).
The leading edge of Gen Z has already turned 21, in fact. A recent Wall Street Journal article “Liquor Companies Need to Sober Up” highlights how, as more cohorts of Gen Z pass their 21st birthday, the generation’s less social behavior and subsequently reduced alcohol consumption will affect sales of alcohol.
Of course, some categories have a bit more time because of their older consumer targets, e.g., home sellers (vs. those marketing to renters), life insurance, luxury cars, etc., but many categories do need to consider these consumers now.
To jump-start your learning about Gen Z, here are some of my favorite insights from the Marketing to Gen Z Conference.
Gen Z in the Workforce: Practical and Resourceful
Many employers will feel optimism and relief to hear that Gen Z seems to be more pragmatic, practical and resourceful in their work habits than Millennials. They are more likely to prioritize salary and less likely to prioritize work life balance than Millennials. They are keen to find the path to financial independence from their parents.
Gen Z Has Spending Power, But Buys Carefully
At present, Gen Z has about $44B in annual US spending power. Purchase power grows to $200B+ when including influence on parental household purchases. It’s important to know that Gen Z are not profligate spenders, instead being value-conscious with their money. They lived through the recent economic downturn, and saw its impact.
Gen Z Carefully Considers What They Share Online, Despite Being Connected
They are connected from birth, natural multi-taskers and collaborative. The teens within Gen Z (13-17) have more online social connections than other adults ages 18-24 (which includes Gen Z and a few trailing Millennials). Despite this connection, they are more likely to say they “carefully consider” what they publish online.
These three Gen Z insights are just a snapshot of this generation’s values, behaviors and attitudes. At over 70 million strong, it’s impossible to generalize the entire cohort. Employers need to start now to understand the emerging workforce. And brands need research into the customer segments that matter now, and into the future.