Generation Z is one-third of the world’s population. Out of about 7.4 billion people in the world, 2.56 billion belong to Generation Z. In the US, NPD data shows that this age group accounts for a staggering 40% of the nation’s consumers which means that the multidimensional lifestyles of Gen Z will define the marketplace for the next decade. Is your brand strategy ready?
To understand Gen Z is to appreciate their fundamental fluidity. They live between digital and real-life worlds, with a minimal distinction between them. This duality of offline and online shapes their consumerism. The brands that resonate and win will be the brands that help them find their way.
Gen Zers champion human diversity in all forms and are laid low by the pressures of ‘selfie esteem.’ Hungry for digital experience and interaction, they also, feel overwhelmed and in need of tech-free sanctuaries.
Culturally agile, self-educated, and highly inclusive, this generation is growing up with its time divided between the fast-paced, constantly evolving digital world and a physical world that seems to throw up new challenges, stresses, and obstacles to overcome daily. This parallel existence defines how they shop and experience life.
They view the real world through a digital filter and care less about distinguishing between the two, aligning their digital assets’ value with what they own in real life. Brands that understand and authentically act on this will open up many opportunities to connect with this cohort in both spaces, creating a more fantastical and fictional aesthetic.
Gen Z prizes brands that offer moments of calm, sensory experiences, and products that support their physical, mental, and emotional well-being, especially if they also appeal to this cohort’s strong beliefs in protest and activism, positive messaging, sustainability, and inclusivity.
Gen Z is seeking out the most sustainable options, particularly “Precyclers”—who think about recycling before they shop by purchasing unpackaged, refillable, and reusable products. Forward-thinking digital platforms offer convenient solutions to zero-waste shopping experiences and increased traceability.
More than any other generation, Gen Z is embedding ethical values, such as prioritizing animal welfare and favoring plant-based diets, into their lifestyles. They use social media to educate, advocate and activate.
Gen Z defies generalization and values diversity in all forms. Social media provides greater exposure to conversations about gender fluidity, positioning this cohort at the forefront of radical inclusivity as they reject gender-conforming attitudes.
More of a lifestyle decision than a trend for this generation. The purchasing pathways of these educated, eco-conscious shoppers are directly determined by ethical practices and messaging, and they firmly believe that a brand must take responsibility for both its social and environmental impact.
As increased digital pressures elevate issues such as loneliness and self-esteem into high-priority concerns, holistic wellness becomes essential for Gen Z. They crave moments of calm and seek out organizations that go out of their way to provide support in an emotionally complex world.
Gen Z is the most self-educated generation to date, with information and tutorials on any conceivable subject instantly available online at any time. Informed online communities continue to fuel the demand for authenticity and transparency across the industry.
Picture-sharing apps, such as Instagram in the West and Weibo and WeChat in China, are Gen Z’s most widely used social media platforms. They use them to educate nd influence each other, as well as research, discover and transact. Shopping directly from social media will become increasingly significant, as these consumers demand that real-world shopping is as frictionless as online.
Artificial intelligence (AI) and augmented reality powered apps will begin to play a more significant role in customers’ purchasing decisions. Extended reality is set to evolve the way Gen Z plays, shops, and communicates, pushing the demand for tech-enabled interactions within retail environments.
Mood-altering products coupled with discreet, on-the-go convenience will gain popularity. Non-invasive, localized delivery systems that enable molecular drugs and actives to be absorbed into the bloodstream in seconds and require a lower dose than conventional delivery methods to be effective.
How to Marketing to Generation Z
To create a credible diverse offer, your brand identity has to be as varied as your customer base. Support fluid identity, and celebrate differences.
Think about how your product can leave a positive legacy and how your customers’ actions can make a difference.
Join the packaging-free movement with unwrapped goods, or offer alternatives to plastic.
Aim to eliminate digital manipulation in marketing materials and monitor social media comments.
Create experiences that boost customers’ wellness with calming products featuring a DIY element to encourage mindfulness.
Ensure that retail staff is educated about teens and mental health. A non-judgmental attitude and an empathetic approach is required for young, image-conscious shoppers.
Find new ways to allow consumers to participate in creating your brand—discussing product features and experiences or contributing to product creation.
Ensure store experiences live up to the digital mentality – Gen Z consumers may discover a brand online. Still, many want to capture the product for their audiences in real-life settings.
5G will unlock augmented reality capabilities, evolving how we shop with new, immersive real-time applications and services. Brands must prepare to transition from e-commerce to a-commerce (augmented commerce).
Gen Z consumers are native omni-shoppers who crave immersive experiences. Retailers that push the boundaries with new technologies will resonate with youngsters looking for sensorial and engaging ways to browse and buy.
Although Gen Z craves in-person experiences, they expect offline experiences to replicate the convenience of online transactions. They switch between online and offline and favor brands that understand and support them in both worlds.
Technology should be used to enhance experiences rather than trying to replace them. Employ smart tech to hyper-personalize your products, make them ultra-effective, and then track and validate their efficacy. Give consumers the power to change their products to work for them.
Sustainability is non-negotiable for Gen Z. It’s not enough for a brand to negate any impact its production has on the world; leaving a positive legacy to make the world a better place is increasingly important. Offline and online messaging and activism go hand in hand, and are essential to articulate what matters to them and build campaign momentum.
Acknowledge the impact digital effects can have on people’s expectations of an aesthetic and expect the digital to influence the physical world, no matter how fantastical.
→ 60% of Gen Z uses social media almost constantly
→ 55% are more comfortable connecting with people online than in person
→ They spend on average 9h online every day
→ 71% of their entertainment consumption is streaming
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