Who are Gen-Z, and How Will They Impact Your Brand?

Gen Z. The term Gen Z (Generation Z) has been gaining huge relevance in the industry lately due to their pragmatic way of living and purchasing, combined with the fact that they will soon become the most pivotal generation in the future of retail, having huge spending power by 2026. Exactly when this generation were born is not agreed upon, but it is thought to be somewhere between 1993 and 2000. They have been brought up surrounded by the internet, technology and social media and are often branded as ‘addicted to technology’ and ‘anti-social’ but this generation will be the largest in history, and they also carry a huge influence on previous generations. The result? Brands should recognise and adhere to their ideologies as much as they can now.

Gen Z’rs are the most ethnically diverse generation to date, with over half being in minority groups. With this in mind, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that they are more accepting and open minded than any other generation and believe in freedom and expression. They need not conform to social expectations and feel it important to defend causes related to identity, whether this be in terms of religion, human rights, race/ethnicity, feminism, sexuality or gender identity/fluidity, with a focus on improving the world and the quality of future generations.

78% of this generation try and purchase products from companies they consider ethical and 48% say they value brands that do not classify items as male or female. This impacts how they interact with brands, with many Gen Z’rs admitting that they will not purchase from brands who are homophobic, racist, sexist or unsustainable. This generation are more likely to consume based on ethical means and by what they believe is deemed as ‘right’ more so than ever before. It therefore makes sense for brands to find a cause to stand against or lobby for and act accordingly in the market. Not only do Gen Z’rs support these causes but being ambitious and confident by nature, they put these beliefs into play, hoping for change. With being technologically savvy combined with the fact that young people have an important influence on people of all ages and incomes, it is now easier to spread the word than ever before.

So what does this mean for brands?  Brands must adapt in numerous ways so that they can stay in the game and build meaningful relationships with this generation. Firstly, brands must be aware that consumers now expect them to be accessible 24/7, wherever they may be.  Customer and brand interaction has been redefined, it is no longer simply about just purchasing products or services, rather, this generation want unlimited and on-demand access. This is not only limited to the brands products and service but also the opportunity to communicate with consumers through regular access to online content and offline experiences by the brand. This 24/7 always-on brand strategy keeps this audience engaged and loyal amongst crowded markets

Secondly, Gen Z’rs are seekers of truth. Those brands that are transparent with their audience will win the loyalty of the community and be valued due to their morally right tendencies. 65% of Gen Zers value knowing what is going on around them and being in control. The Gen Z community are both realistic and analytical, evaluating their consumption patterns and future more so than their succeeding generations. Due to technological advances, they tend to be more educated about brands and this information is now more readily accessible than ever before. If a brand goes against its core principles and what it advocates, as well as what is morally and politically correct generally, this will be noticed. In saying this, Gen Z’rs are also tolerant of mistakes and so if said companies correct these mistakes then they can normally recover from it.

Lastly, Gen Z’rs search for products that offer personalisation, meaning that brands must search for new ways in which to cater to this need whilst also attempting to mass produce. 58% of A-class and 43% of C-class consumers say they are willing to pay more for personalised offerings. 70% of A-class and 58% of C-class consumers are willing to pay a higher price for products from brands that embrace causes those consumers identify with. However, although these expectations may be high, consumers are increasingly more sceptical about sharing their personal information with brands hence making this personalisation tricky. Only 10-15% of this generation admit that they do not have issues with sharing their personal data with brands.

The future. Increased connectivity as a result of technology will bring both challenges and opportunities for brands. They must now more than ever be aware of the message they are sending as well as what goes into the products and services that they produce. Not only this, with the online-offline boundary beginning to blur, brands must be aware that future generations will expect more from them in terms of ability to consume anywhere at anytime. With the size, level of influence and technological advancements of this generation, it is in the best interest of brands to now fully get on board with their ideologies as it is unlikely to change for future generations to come.

Words by
David Stybr