They are destined to become the largest consumer group on the planet. Businesses are under increasing pressure to understand who they are – and what they want
A global survey of Generation Z has revealed an emerging borderless tribe constantly striving to be ‘unique’. With the oldest member of Gen Z turning 21 this year, global strategy consulting firm OC&C conducted an in-depth survey of 15,500 people, spanning nine countries and four generations, to help brands and retailers better understand the post millennial generation which already accounts for 30 percent of the world’s population. The study shows that Gen Zers have carried forward certain trends established by Millennials, yet resemble each other more than any other generation, from attitudes to spending, to their outlook on the future. They are also subject to higher levels of influence from celebrities and friends though at the same time, crave to stand out as individuals. Driving these seemingly contradictory forces is, most likely, the irrefutable sway of social media. Will Hayllar, Partner at OC&C, described the generation as a “complicated” but “vitally important” set of consumers to understand.
A Generation without Borders
Compared with older generations surveyed, there were greatest similarities in behaviours and attitudes in the Gen Z respondents of all nine countries surveyed. The trait is almost certainly driven by technology – the internet and social channels make it ever easier for this online age bracket to share ideas and access the same information and media. Brands providing access to the same products across markets – and the power of truly global celebrities and influencers – appear to be driving the trend too.
Under the influence verses the need to stand out
Influence plays a pivotal role in the life of Gen Z. They report higher levels of influence on their life choices than older generations, and are more likely to be shaped by friends and celebrities too. This online sphere is directly disrupting traditional purchasing journeys – Gen Zers are more likely to buy through mobile apps, social media and bloggers than Millennials, Gen X and Baby Boomers. This younger generation diverges from traditional sources of brand discovery too. Just 8 per cent of Gen Z selected seeing new brands when out shopping compared to 17 percent of Gen X and 24 percent of Baby Boomers. Despite Gen Z finding inspiration and identity through friends and celebrities, a core group (25 percent) still believe it’s important to have a unique view on style, hobbies and creativity. Brands should look to provide more personalisation and customisation services to satisfy this appetite for exclusivity. Limited edition mainstream ranges are another tactic that can be employed to reach this generation.
It went mainstream with Millennials and Gen Z is continuing the trend: Animal welfare, equality, diversity and human rights are all issues that deeply resonate with today’s younger generation – and it doesn’t stop there. One quarter of Gen Z say they consciously buy products that can be used repeatedly and more than a third try to buy and keep what they truly need. Sustainably sourced products are also high on the agenda with 13 percent ‘selecting products on the basis of sustainability’ compared to just 9 percent of Gen X. This consciousness will also translate into the workforce as Gen Zers battle with their principles and desire to ‘do something meaningful’. Mr Hayllar said now was the time for consumer businesses to develop their ethical stances to engage this generation. “Reviewing the supply chain, CSR initiatives and company values should be at the forefront of business marketing.”