Gen Z – the most diverse generation ever. The first digitally-native generation. The generation that’s challenging norms, pioneering social change, and redefining the world around them. With Gen Z sitting on nearly $360 billion in disposable income (1), everyone wants more information on how to connect with them – so that’s what we’ve set out to deliver.
We’ve spent the last 2 years deep diving into Gen Z behaviors, attitudes, lifestyles, motivations, and preferences across a variety of industries, from gaming to groceries to workout gear and beyond. And one thing is abundantly clear – this generation is full of surprises.
Here are the top 4 most surprising insights we’ve uncovered about Gen Z:
1 out of 3 teens think they spend too much time on social media.
“Gen Z” and “social media” are nearly synonymous – many of us believe they enjoy having their heads buried in their phones all day, and many brands assume that a digital-first approach is the best way to reach them. However, research is showing that we can’t discount this generations’ desire for in-person experiences. As a digitally-native generation, technology has been embedded into their life since day one – and as they grow up, they’re looking for a balance between in-person and online experiences.
This highlights the power and importance of ‘phygital’. Gen Zers are the ultimate omnichannel audience, ebbing and flowing between real life and digital experiences all day long – so connecting with them requires an engaging, consistent, and seamless presence online and in-person.
Nearly 90% of Gen Z expect a personalized shopping experience.
Gen Z is a generation full of unique personalities, independent thinkers, and the desire to be recognized as an individual. No two Gen Z are alike, and they reject the idea of being stereotyped or generalized. This manifests itself in their relationships with brands and retail, with 87% of Gen Z wanting a personalized shopping experience.
This means that in order to connect with Gen Z, brands need to define the generation beyond broad strokes – they need to uncover the distinct, unique attitudes and behaviors that exist within their specific Gen Z audience, and develop strategies to create meaningful connections through personalized experiences.
3 out of 4 Gen Zers only buy from brands they believe in.
Gen Zers are extremely selective about where they spend their time and energy. A recent study found that 84% of 14-17-year-olds and 64% of 18-26-year-olds said they make purchase decisions based on value alignment – indicating just how important it is that brands connect with Gen Z on a deeper level.
But it must be authentic – Gen Zers are skilled at weeding out inauthentic messages or brands that are pretending to care and are turned off by companies that only seek to turn a profit. Brands must walk the walk and find authentic, meaningful ways in with their audiences in order to win this generation’s trust – and their dollars.
Most Gen Zers save about 1/3 of their income.
There are many stereotypes about Gen Z, but one of the most common tropes is that they are highly unprepared for adulthood. However, recent studies show that this isn’t necessarily true, at least from a financial perspective – Gen Z saves about a third of their income, with 25% already participating in the stock market and 14% already investing in retirement accounts.
This supports an insight we’ve seen in our recent work, which is that Gen Z is paving their own path through adulthood. They are faced with economic, social, and environmental challenges that no other generation has dealt with before, and they have no problem challenging societal norms and expectations to tackle the future on their own terms.
And ultimately, brands are expected to keep up. It’s out with the old and in with the new across all categories – from cutting-edge innovation to inclusivity initiatives to ethical and environmental advancements, Gen Z expects brands to join them as they reshape the world and aim to make it a better place for all.
This is just a teaser of all there is to know about Gen Z – there’s way more where that came from! Forget what you think you know about this up-and-coming generation and go on a journey with us to uncover what’s real – including their wants, needs, preferences, and (most importantly) how they’re redefining the world around them.
Have specific questions about how Gen Z engages with your category and/or brand? We’d love to help. Click here to start a conversation with us.