The teens and tweens of today are a cohort of kids that doesn’t have a definitive name yet, however some have dubbed it Generation Z. Generation Z, the largest demographic cohort comprises 25% of the US population (Wikipedia, 2015). They will start working by 2020 and earning lots of money that need spending. Therefore Generation Z should be taken seriously by retailers who need to know who they are and what their needs, wants and preferences are.
The characteristics of Generation Z
Generation Z was born after 1994 and is the newest generation. The generation has grown up surrounded by technology and are known to be highly connected with each other 1. A highlight of this generation is their ‘color-blindness’, their sensitivity to diverse cultures and personal differences 2. They are willing to embrace diversity to an unprecedented degree and are globally accepting. Although the Z Generation is go-getters and trendsetters, they guard their privacy fiercely. Rayan Scott contributing in Forbes underlines four characteristics that are critical to know about Generation Z:
- Technology – Generation Z has never known a world without smartphones and social media. They gobble up information quickly and are ready to move on to the next thing in an eye blink.
- Privacy – they are less interested in sharing their lives for the public record. Anonymous social media platforms are more appealing to them than Facebook.
- Cultural diversity – Gen Z embraces multiculturalism as a touchstone of who they are, and this also informs their attitudes on social issues.
- Pragmatism – growing up in an uncertain world, and being raised by Generation X parents whose own prospects seemed stunted by less exuberant times, this generation is drawn to safety.
How will these distinct characteristics of Generation Z influence their shopping behaviour?
The shopping behaviour of Generation Z
Although most of them do not earn money, Generation Z is influencing almost all of the household purchasing decisions 3. They are a group that is heavily influenced by friends, bloggers and social media, according to Farla Efros, president of HRC Retail Advisory. Teens are becoming to act more like adults in their everyday life and this also translates into their purchasing decisions. Tweens on the other hand are still too young to make their independent purchasing decisions. Chain Store Age reported the following findings of a recent study by HRC:
- Gen Z shoppers like malls – 72% of Generation Z respondents (kids 10-17) and millennial parents with kids said they visit a mall or shopping center at least once a month.
- Gift vouchers are popular – 69% of Generation Z children would rather receive a gift voucher for their birthday, further proving their desire to make their own purchase decisions.
- Social influences are more important than celebrity endorsements – Gen Z shoppers tend not to be strongly influenced by celebrity endorsements from athletes, actors and singers. However, over 61% of their purchase decisions are most strongly influenced by friends, with 13% being influenced by bloggers.
- Social media plays a major role in purchasing decisions – approximately 50% of Gen Z shoppers surveyed use social media while they shop. Of time spent social media, most popular is Facebook (61%), followed by YouTube (38%) and Instagram (24 %).
A new generation cohort becoming retail customers, such as Generation Z, brings with them a unique perception of life and their norms, values and beliefs. From 2020, Generation Z will make out 40% of the economic active population in the US. Time to get ready for them is quickly running out. Importantly, retailers have about three years to prepare themselves for the ‘Age of Generation Z.’
Read also about the shopping behavior of older people ” Shopping Behavior of The Baby Boomers “. And something in general about generational cohorts “ Demographic Segmentation – Dividing the Market by Generations ”
1 Paakkari, A., 2016. Customer Journey of Generation Z in fashion purchases: Case: LMTD.
2 Mathur, M. and Hameed, S. 2016. A Study on Behavioural Competencies of the Z Generation, In International Conference on Management and Information Systems, 23: 24.
3 Cruz, M. 2016. Generation Z: influencers of decision-making process. The influence of WOM and Peer Interaction in the Decision-Making Process, Master’s Thesis, Católica Porto Business School.