Generation Z is more in tune with technology and online engagement than any prior generations.
How do we define the youngest generation? Gen Z is most commonly defined as those born after 1996, divided into two groups: those born between 1997 and 2005 (The First Connected Kids) and those born 2006 to 2015 (The Technology Inherent). The oldest members of the generation are now 20. The oldest millennials are now 37.
Because members of Gen-Z are different in key ways from millennials, the demographic shift holds some implications for brands and retail marketers. According to Nielsen’s new Total Audience report, millennials and Gen-Z now comprise 48 percent of the total media audience.
Differences of Gen Z
While members of Gen-Z look like millennials from an overall device ownership perspective, there are a few key differences. According to Nielsen, they watch less conventional and DVR-based TV than earlier generations. They also spend far less time accessing the internet via PCs than older groups. Gen-Z spent only eight minutes per day online via PC. The vast majority of their online time is spent on mobile devices.
Millennials care more about prices than Gen Z
This is arguably because they came of age during the recession. Sixty-seven percent of millennials surveyed said that they would go to the website to get a coupon, whereas only 46% of Gen Z polled said they would do the same. Millennials also tend to click on more ads; 71% of Millennials in a recent poll said they followed an advertisement online before making a purchase, however only 59% of Gen Z’ers said the same.
Members of Gen-Z are more likely to buy in stores than millennials and prefer it to e-commerce, according to multiple studies. However, technology heavily influences those mostly in-store purchase behaviors.
According to a Euclid Analytics consumer retail behavior survey, Gen-Z uses mobile apps and features on mobile phones more than other demographic segments in retail stores. Texting and Snapchat in particular are much more heavily used:
The use of Snapchat is the most dramatic difference between Gen Z and other groups. More than 40% of Gen Z respondents say they use Snapchat in a store, compared to only 15% of other respondents. Texting remains the most popular activity overall, especially with Gen Z. Half the Gen Z respondents say they text while in a store, compared to 39% of other respondents. The only mobile feature Generation Z uses less than other groups is Google search.
Gen Z Is More Entrepreneurial
According to Gen Z marketing strategist Deep Patel, “the newly developing high tech and highly networked world has resulted in an entire generation thinking and acting more entrepreneurially.” Generation Z desires more independent work environments. As a matter of fact, 72% of teens say they want to start a business someday.
Gen Z Has Higher Expectations Than Millennials
Millennials remember playing solitaire, coming home to dial-up internet and using AOL. Generation Z was born into a world overrun with technology. “When it doesn’t get there that fast they think something’s wrong,” said Marcie Merriman, executive director of growth strategy at Ernst & Young. “They expect businesses, brands and retailers to be loyal to them. If they don’t feel appreciated, they’re going to move on. It’s not about them being loyal to the business.”
Gen-Z is the next generation of mass-market consumers. While they share some of the behavior patterns and characteristics of millennials, they have distinct preferences and expectations that brands and retailers must understand and address.