Is Your Brand Getting Gen Z Ready?

Is Your Brand Getting Gen Z Ready?

The next generation of consumers, known as Gen Z, are just beginning to enter the workforce and flex their collective spending muscles. Born roughly between 1997-2010, they represent just over a quarter of the U.S. population, with an estimated spending power of $44 billion. This creates a need for brand marketers to begin taking a closer look at this influential consumer segment. While there are many similarities between Gen Z and Millennials, there are specific technological, societal, and cultural circumstances that appear to be driving key differences between the generations.

For one, Gen Zers are growing up in an age of ubiquitous connectivity. They rarely deal with delayed communication with friends and family, or access to information, setting their expectations for near-instant responsiveness extremely high. Unlike prior generations, social media interactions play a big part in shaping their socialization behaviors. They bond with peers and express their self-identity using a host of social media platforms. Culturally, Gen Zers will be the most ethnically diverse generation to-date. They’ve also been influenced by the attention mainstream media places on environmental issues among other cause-related movements. As a result, Gen Zers appear to have a more pronounced social conscience than older generations.

As Gen Zers continue to mature, the defining features of their generation will have important implications on their evolving CX needs and desires. Here are three emerging Gen Z characteristics which serve as early indicators of how marketing and research strategies will need to evolve.

Digital Natives

Gen Zers were born into a world with 24/7 access to information. They expect immediate answers to questions and have little patience for delayed responses. Unlike previous generations, who tend to place a higher value on face-to-face conversation, Gen Zers reach first for their mobile devices to initiate communication. Technology-enabled contact, especially via smartphones, fulfills their needs for self-validation, entertainment, and gathering information to make decisions. That’s not to say they avoid in-person interactions. Meeting with others one-on-one or in group settings serves their needs for shared experiences and building meaningful relationships, particularly in the workplace.

Marketing Research Implication 

  • Consider using a combination of mobile-first surveys (web or app-based), online studies via email invitation, phone interviews, and in-person qualitative to ensure meeting your unique research objectives while delivering a representative coverage of your Gen Z audience.

Social Media Centric

An array of social media platforms are the primary means of connection and self-expression for Gen Zers’. In terms of brand interactions, Instagram is a common destination for learning about new products. When looking for reviews and recommendations, Gen Zers often go on YouTube, where virtual word-of-mouth from internet influencers is a powerful driver of purchase decisions. Also, they expect personalized, two-way brand interactions and are keen to join in co-creation experiences.

Marketing Research Implications

  • Engaging with Gen Z through online communities meet their desire for two-way communication and elicit co-creation feedback.
  • Platforms like Snapchat can be used to invite highly targeted Gen Z samples to participate in marketing research.
  • Consider engaging with Gen Zers via Instagram for ethnographic studies to gather imagery, customer journey experiences, or day-in-the-life product usage stories.

Purpose Driven & Socially Responsible

More so than other generational cohorts, Gen Zers gravitate toward brands that reflect their purpose-driven values including diversity issues, environmentalism, and sustainability. They are attracted to brands that demonstrate social activism and corporate responsibility. This mindset comes from a desire to make the world a better place and a recognition that by exercising their purchasing power they have the ability to bring about positive social change.

Marketing Research Implications

  • Consider evaluating the impact of value-based messaging on Gen Z’s brand perceptions, reputation, purchase decisions, and loyalty.
  • Identifying drivers of metrics like these, along with overall satisfaction and NPS, will help you fine-tune brand messaging and product development strategies geared toward Gen Zers.

Be Prepared to Engage with the Next Generation

Depending on your product or service category, Gen Zers may or may not currently represent a significant proportion of your brand’s consumer base. However, it’s not too early to identify ways your brand experience may need to evolve to meet their unique customer experience expectations. Get ready to pivot your brand to meet the next generation’s CX expectations. After all, what brand doesn’t want to be poised for growth as the new wave of consumers come of age?


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