Although Millennials will always be a valuable target for marketers, a new and equally powerful generation of consumers is emerging: Generation Z. Born between 1996 and 2010, this cohort is often referred to as the iGeneration. They have never known the world without the internet, mobile technology, or opinion-influencing peers. They are unapologetically themselves, endeavor to stand out rather than fit in, and are much more sophisticated in their relationships with brands.
Gen Z already has tremendous spending power - about $44 billion in discretionary spending annually - and by 2020, this generation is predicted to account for more than 40% of all U.S. consumers. Here, we take a look at Gen Z to better understand who they are, how they engage with brands, and how experiential marketing can help to reach this consumer.
This generation wants to connect with brands that reflect who they are as individuals and they are quick to spot - and call out - inauthentic brand messaging. Brands have to prove their value beyond the product and communicate in an authentic, engaging, and highly personalized way.
Have a Social Conscience
This generation has a highly developed collective social conscience, with almost 60% considering themselves to be socially aware. They are natural activists and take strong personal stances on the things they are for or against. In other words, they have a voice (and a smartphone) and aren’t afraid to use it to make themselves heard. And, they expect the same from brands, with fifty percent saying that a brand’s position on social issues influences their purchase decisions. Before doing so, marketers should ensure that their position organically aligns with the brand’s values and actions.
We often refer to members of this demographic as “Image Architects” due to the fact that they are constantly curating their own “brand” persona. Social platforms have given them the ability to cultivate and experiment with different versions of themselves that align with who they are today and who they want to become tomorrow. For example, Snapchat’s ephemeral content allows Gen Z to share the mundane aspects of their lives and easily communicate with friends. At the same time, they are curating their personal brand through an Instagram feed filled with highly curated images. Aesthetic is critical to this generation and researchers found it’s the number one thing this consumer looks for when they buy. In fact, fashionable design matters to 67% of these shoppers, more than any other generation.
Every Experience is Unique and Ownable
Although they have grown up in a digital world, this generation craves tactile experiences. Eighty percent of them say they love to go shopping, but this consumer demands more from brick-and-mortar stores. Among the top factors for visiting a retail store are: cool store design, unique merchandise, interactive displays that show how to use products, and the ability to try products. Of course, digital plays a critical role in the purchase journey - they are the ultimate omnichannel shoppers and expect a seamless brand experience across platforms - but the experiential aspects of product discovery and trial are equally as important as their digital journey.
For most brands, reaching this consumer won’t be easy. Although Gen Z’ers are hyper-aware of both established and emerging brands, they are skeptical of any messaging or branding that appears contrived or can be viewed as pandering to them. Experiential marketing offers brands the opportunity to get closer to this consumer and curate the brand image in a personalized and immersive environment that appeals directly to them. Contact us today to learn how we can create a strategic experiential marketing program that taps into Gen Z’s passions and builds brand love.
Sources: EY Gen Z is connected, informed, and ready for business; Bloomberg Gen Z is Set to Outnumber Millennials Within a Year August 2018; VisionCritical Gen Z Statistics Report on Values, Attitudes, and Behaviors of the post-Millennials, Criteo Gen Z Report 2018; Adweek Understand the New Generation of Audiences May 2018