The one constant for the retail industry is changing. Just as the industry seemed to get its heads around re-inventing itself to meet the expectations of tech-savvy Millennials, there is a new demographic of consumers flexing their buying power – Gen Z.
Who is Gen Z?
Now, all 22 or younger they consist of a mix of students and youngsters entering their first jobs and represent one-third of the world’s 7.7 billion people. They are a generation of true digital natives that are starting to wield enormous buying power.
A recent Wall Street Journal article describes Generation Z as “…a scarred generation, cautious and hardened by economic and social turbulence,” and this shapes their characteristics and the way they interact with brands. The marketing conversation has for too long been concentrated on Millennials who are now almost in their 40s and it is important to note that Gen-Z is different and requires a different approach.
Here’s what you need to know about Gen-Z going into 2019.
They embrace individuality
A strong belief of exceptionalism runs through this generation where each person is seen to be unique and being ‘oneself’. They select styles and products that complement their personalities and communicate their identity. This often is a collection of cultures and values from across the world.
‘Authenticity’ is the new buzzword
Having grown up in the age of ‘fake news’ and ‘clickbait’ headlines, this generation knows authenticity when they see it. Imbued with a strong B.S meter, they have strong filters for inauthentic and irrelevant information. Growing up engaging with YouTube stars who are relatable make them appreciate the chance to interact with real and raw content vs polished executions. They are less likely to follow trends created by paid influencers and look to, genuine experts or like-minded people.
Their mind’s on their money
A generation that has grown up witnessing the burdens of student debt and the buckling economy they are careful with their money and are already planning their long term financial goals. Gen Z puts a high priority on savings and are pretty optimistic about their financial future. Opting for utility and quality, they expect to get more for their money.
They shop smarter
They shop smart with their phones. They are attuned to the honesty of ratings and reviews and they are used to spending hours researching a product before purchase. Transparency is quickly becoming an integral part of the shopping experience from customer ratings to influencer reviews.
Their values are invaluable
This generation has grown up within a culture of marketing that speaks to their identities and values. Diversity is a defining feature of the generation. Inclusive messaging is not just a perk, it’s now an expectation. Since their products are looked at to reflect their individual personalities, these shoppers consider what a brand stands for before buying into it. It’s no longer about the label but about everything from campaign casting, ethnical manufacturing and sourcing. studies have shown that Gen Z is interested in racial, gender and income equality, as well as environmental issues. Standing up for these values along with transparency is what will be a differentiator for brands.
One size does not fit all
Gen Z does not want to feel marketed to. As stated the more authentic and personal the recommendations are the better the value seen. This goes beyond the traditional ‘set it up and forget’ approach to media where reports have shown that they are willing to give up personal data in exchange for personalised experiences and getting some value in return. Again, relevance, transparency and authenticity are key . They want brands to stop ‘marketing too hard’ and viewing them as prospects of shifting the focus to collaboration and interacting with them at an individual level. Throw your cookie-cutter approaches out of the window.