“Gen Z is starting a conversation”: What we know about the next generation of consumers

One day, when Generation Z look back at 2020 – when they were perhaps studying, starting their first job and developing their own opinions of the world – they will remember climate crises such as the bushfires, the Black Lives Matter movement and of course, a global pandemic.

Indeed, this is a tech-savvy generation that is more politically and socially aware than their predecessors and have only known a life where the internet existed.

“We’ve seen thousands of school-aged people across multiple countries engaging in protests against gun violence, education and climate change,” said Dr Rebecca Dare at the Australian Centre of Retail Studies at Monash Business School. “We haven’t had protests on this scale in a long time. Gen Z is starting a conversation – they’re raising awareness and mobilising across borders using technology.”

As a demographic, Gen Z demands and expects more of brands, whether it’s through their social and environmental values, digital initiatives or marketing. Here are some insights into these consumers that businesses should be aware of.

Gen Z are the next business leaders

If Gen Z sees a gap in the market, they aren’t afraid to jump online and launch their own business, says a new report from WP Engine called Gen Z: Resetting Expectations for the Digital Experience.

“This generation is not only highly attuned to how they spend money but also how they make it, and they have a shrewd sense of the business world as a digital-first generation,” it stated.

“They are the most likely generation to start a business and the only generation whose first business would be in technology.”

Social issues are close to their heart

Seventy-five per cent of Gen Z customers are more likely to buy from a company that contributes to social issues, according to the WP Engine report.

When the Black Lives Matter events took place last month, several brands may have posted black tiles on social media in an effort to show solidarity with the community, but it was those that made contributions to organisations supporting BIPOC causes and questioned their own diversity and inclusion policies that cut through the noise.

“A public statement is just a start – we need to play our part in bringing about real change to address the issues that black voices are crying out to us,” said Peta Granger, Australia and New Zealand director at Lush.

“Businesses need to move beyond statements to show genuine solidarity and allyship through action and listening to people of colour with lived experience. We admit that we are late to the table and that, like society, Lush needs to change and do better.”

They love video

According to a new McKinsey report, in the APAC region, 70 per cent of consumers had learnt about new brands via social media in the past month. In South Korea and Japan in particular, video is one of the main ways that Gen Z chooses between brands and products.

Now with the rise of TikTok and the continuing popularity of YouTube, it makes sense that brands invest more resources into producing creative and authentic video content to target Gen Z.

“TikTok is a huge opportunity for all brands. We’ve never had a platform with such rapid growth and engagement. Back in March, we launched a campaign with the Hembrow sisters and rolled out a paid TikTok campaign which was incredibly successful. We saw high reach, low CPMs and a healthy CTR, along with great brand awareness and positioning,” Madeline George, Australian country manager at Boohoo told Inside Retail.

 “Currently we’re using our influencer network to create TikToks for the brand, which is now a priority in our influencer strategy. We’ll also look to re-engage TikTok on an ad spend basis for future campaigns considering the success we saw. We’ve got a few other exciting global campaigns coming up which I think will be mega.”

Gen Z wants more from digital brands

These days, it’s not enough for retailers to simply have a functioning website and an active social media presence. Gen Z now expects fast delivery times, the ability to personalise, exclusive or limited edition products and brand collaborations.

“Sixty-one per cent of Gen Zers surveyed consider brands that collaborate with other trendy brands more interesting; only 51 percent of millennials do. In short, Gen Zers want more for less—making them, quite literally, tough customers,” said the McKinsey report.

Gen Z is aware of their mobile phone usage

They may be digital natives, but Gen Z are aware of spending too much time on their mobile phones, moreso than older generations, according to the report from KcKinsey. Almost a third spend six hours a day or longer on their mobile phones – that’s two hours more than the typical Gen Xer.

“In this regard, it’s interesting that Gen Zers trust family and friends more than any other source – and more than millennials or Gen Xers do,” stated the McKinsey report.

“More than half of Gen Zers surveyed – including 75 percent of Japanese respondents – say they think people overshare, and 49 per cent are concerned about the use of their personal data.”

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