Jan 29, 2019

From A to Gen Z: Getting to Know the Next Generation of Shoppers

Gen Z
Just when you thought you figured out Millennials, along comes Gen Z. Born between the mid-1990s and early 2000s, Gen Z is not simply a younger version of Millennials. Members of Gen Z are more culturally diverse, have their own attitudes, behaviors and priorities, and are on track to become the largest generation of consumers by 2020. They already represent up to $143 billion in buying power, and that number doesn’t even account for how much Gen Z influences household spending. 

Today, as the eldest Gen Z’ers begin entering the workforce, brands and retailers need to start figuring out this increasingly powerful generation. Using Numerator data, we’ll take an in-depth look at Generation Z, learn about their shopping behavior, and find out what makes them tick.

Gen Z at a Glance

Gen Z is  the most ethnically and racially diverse generation in the United States. As the first majority “minority” generation, Gen Z is defined and influenced by multiple cultures, with new acculturation dynamics compared to Millennials, according to new Numerator Insights and Ad Intel data.

Gen Z only knows a world in which instant access to information is never more than an arm’s length away. That makes these digital natives adept at gathering information quickly and sifting through the noise. They use technology to seek out brands that make them happy and convey the right image, and they expect brands to be transparent and accountable. 

Again, Gen Z is not simply “Millennial Lite.” Many Millennial stereotypes don’t apply to Gen Z. Gen Z is 43% less likely to be concerned about healthy eating and 22% less likely to exercise regularly. They’re also less likely to be sports fans. In fact, Gen Z is 25% less likely to watch the NFL on television than Millennials.

Gen Z Gets Social

Since Gen Z’ers were born into the era of smartphones, they’re even more likely to be on their mobile devices than their computers compared to Millennials. When it comes to social media, Gen Z is into Tumblr, Snapchat and Twitter. Facebook and Reddit? Not so much, at least not as much as Millennials. 

In addition to showing a preference for different social media channels, Gen Z is using them differently than Millennials. Social media isn’t just about connecting with friends. Gen Z is 44% more likely to make friends, 10% more likely to discover new products, and 18% more likely to discover new movies and entertainment through social media.

Gen Z looks and behaves differently than Millennials. They’re more diverse and unacculturated. They’re students on a budget with different priorities. They use different social platforms for different purposes. The obvious takeaway here is that brands and retailers can’t expect the marketing strategies that worked for Millennials to work for this younger generation that’s poised to disrupt the marketplace. 

Gen Z Goes Shopping

Each year, 4 million members of Gen Z enter adulthood. But where are they spending their money? According to Numerator Insights and Ad Intel data, Gen Z spending in Food, Mass and Club channels is trending down, while Online and Gas & Convenience spending is up. 

Despite the continued growth of Gen Z’s online shopping habits, we still see a smaller share of Gen Z’s spend going to online channels compared to Millennials (7.4% to 10.4%). However, data suggests this could be related to life stage. At this point, Gen Z shops online less frequently, spends less per trip, and builds smaller online baskets than Millennials. But there is significant growth potential as Gen Z moves into different life stages, and given their high adoption rates of online shopping, it’s important to earn this generation’s loyalty now.

This post is part one of our two-part Gen Z Insights Report. In the next post, we’ll discuss where Gen Z goes to eat, how this affects grocery shopping behavior, and how well the current creative mix of retailers and brands is resonating with Gen Z.

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Additional Sources:
MediaPost, Multiracial Gen Z and the Future of Marketing
Forbes, How Much Financial Influence Does Gen Z Have?