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3 Things Every Business Should Know About Gen Z

Want to successfully reach and engage Gen Z consumers? This article outlines three key things this cohort wants.
Photo credit: Jacob Lund - stock.adobe.com

Known to many as “the TikTok Generation,” Gen Z is a cohort coveted by businesses of all sizes and across sectors. But who is Gen Z, really? How do they behave and what are they looking for from brands they buy from and businesses they work for?

Let’s investigate.

Gen Z: Who They Are and How They Live

“Zoomers” were born anywhere between 1997 and 2012, which means they can be as old as 26 and as young as 11. This gap is pretty significant, especially if we consider their experiences and lifestyles.

Older Gen Zers were pre-teens at the start of the 2008 recession and have essentially been raised amid economic volatility and uncertainty. They also were either just graduating college and/or entering the workforce during the COVID-19 pandemic, transforming the way they think about work-life balance.

Conversely, the youngest of Gen Z were in their early childhood during this time and had their own unique experiences during the pandemic. They learned how to learn from home and increasingly turned to social networks and gaming platforms like Roblox to meet and connect — both with each other and with brands.

The overarching takeaway, though, is that all members of this cohort have grown up connected to technology. While the preferred platforms may vary a bit, they all rely on social media to learn about the world and themselves.

What Gen Z Consumers Want

Not every person is the same, so it is impossible to make blanket statements about an entire demographic (one that is 68.6 million strong in the U.S. alone) and have all the details be accurate. However, research and strategy firms have been able to uncover X overarching themes in their studies of Gen Z and what they really want from businesses:

Community

The vast majority (88%) of Gen Z consumers play a game that puts them in a virtual world, according to the YPulse Metaverse Trend Report.

These platforms are virtual worlds “where you’re able to do more than just play a game,” said MaryLeigh Bliss, Chief Content Officer of YPulse. “You can buy things, hang out with friends and have experiences.”

While there are some brands, like Forever 21, e.l.f. Beauty and even The Home Depot that have “set up shop” in these gaming environments, companies also can use their websites and social platforms to build their own community spaces.

For example, Bubble is an up-and-coming skincare brand designed for Gen Z. It has developed a community of 10,000+ consumers, which the team interviews and communicates with to understand what exactly these individuals want. Community members drive key brand decisions, such as product packaging, brand decisions and even which products Bubble ultimately develops.

Authenticity

When reading about these consumers, you have likely seen a phrase akin to, “Gen Z can smell phony from a mile away.” Brands like Aerie can attest to this.

Through extensive audience research and engagement, Aerie has found its sweet spot, creating content and campaigns that tap into Gen Z’s thoughts, feelings, beliefs and values. One of the most critical values being body positivity and diversity. By harnessing this foundational element, Aerie has been able to drive long-term loyalty — even at a time when consumers are more eager than ever to switch brands.

“The most important thing for us at Aerie is finding people who understand the importance of building confidence in young people,” said Stacey McCormick, SVP of Aerie Marketing. “2014 is when we launched our #AerieReal movement, and since then we’re always looking for partners that help amplify our story and share the vision.

Mental Health and Wellness

From 9/11 to the Great Recession to the pandemic, Gen Z has had to experience (both directly and indirectly) stress and uncertainty. That is why they prioritize mental health and self-care, and increasingly turn to brands that invest in these areas: 71% of Gen Z consumers like when brands make mental health a part of their marketing and messaging, according to YPulse data.

“Compared to millennials, Gen Z is more anxious, they’re more stressed and they tend to be a bit darker,” Bliss said. “They tend to use a lot of dark humor to deal with things, especially while thinking about the future.”

Bliss noted that brands are finding unique ways to embrace Gen Z’s eagerness to make discussions around mental health less taboo. Bliss noted shared a few examples: while Netflix has conversations with young stars completely focused on mental health, Jansport has made mental health a key discussion point in its marketing strategy for Gen Z consumers.

This article was adapted from a piece originally published on Retail TouchPoints.

 

3 Things Every Business Should Know About Gen Z

by | Jan 9, 2024

Want to successfully reach and engage Gen Z consumers? This article outlines three key things this cohort wants.

Known to many as “the TikTok Generation,” Gen Z is a cohort coveted by businesses of all sizes and across sectors. But who is Gen Z, really? How do they behave and what are they looking for from brands they buy from and businesses they work for?

Let’s investigate.

Gen Z: Who They Are and How They Live

“Zoomers” were born anywhere between 1997 and 2012, which means they can be as old as 26 and as young as 11. This gap is pretty significant, especially if we consider their experiences and lifestyles.

Older Gen Zers were pre-teens at the start of the 2008 recession and have essentially been raised amid economic volatility and uncertainty. They also were either just graduating college and/or entering the workforce during the COVID-19 pandemic, transforming the way they think about work-life balance.

Conversely, the youngest of Gen Z were in their early childhood during this time and had their own unique experiences during the pandemic. They learned how to learn from home and increasingly turned to social networks and gaming platforms like Roblox to meet and connect — both with each other and with brands.

The overarching takeaway, though, is that all members of this cohort have grown up connected to technology. While the preferred platforms may vary a bit, they all rely on social media to learn about the world and themselves.

What Gen Z Consumers Want

Not every person is the same, so it is impossible to make blanket statements about an entire demographic (one that is 68.6 million strong in the U.S. alone) and have all the details be accurate. However, research and strategy firms have been able to uncover X overarching themes in their studies of Gen Z and what they really want from businesses:

Community

The vast majority (88%) of Gen Z consumers play a game that puts them in a virtual world, according to the YPulse Metaverse Trend Report.

These platforms are virtual worlds “where you’re able to do more than just play a game,” said MaryLeigh Bliss, Chief Content Officer of YPulse. “You can buy things, hang out with friends and have experiences.”

While there are some brands, like Forever 21, e.l.f. Beauty and even The Home Depot that have “set up shop” in these gaming environments, companies also can use their websites and social platforms to build their own community spaces.

For example, Bubble is an up-and-coming skincare brand designed for Gen Z. It has developed a community of 10,000+ consumers, which the team interviews and communicates with to understand what exactly these individuals want. Community members drive key brand decisions, such as product packaging, brand decisions and even which products Bubble ultimately develops.

Authenticity

When reading about these consumers, you have likely seen a phrase akin to, “Gen Z can smell phony from a mile away.” Brands like Aerie can attest to this.

Through extensive audience research and engagement, Aerie has found its sweet spot, creating content and campaigns that tap into Gen Z’s thoughts, feelings, beliefs and values. One of the most critical values being body positivity and diversity. By harnessing this foundational element, Aerie has been able to drive long-term loyalty — even at a time when consumers are more eager than ever to switch brands.

“The most important thing for us at Aerie is finding people who understand the importance of building confidence in young people,” said Stacey McCormick, SVP of Aerie Marketing. “2014 is when we launched our #AerieReal movement, and since then we’re always looking for partners that help amplify our story and share the vision.

Mental Health and Wellness

From 9/11 to the Great Recession to the pandemic, Gen Z has had to experience (both directly and indirectly) stress and uncertainty. That is why they prioritize mental health and self-care, and increasingly turn to brands that invest in these areas: 71% of Gen Z consumers like when brands make mental health a part of their marketing and messaging, according to YPulse data.

“Compared to millennials, Gen Z is more anxious, they’re more stressed and they tend to be a bit darker,” Bliss said. “They tend to use a lot of dark humor to deal with things, especially while thinking about the future.”

Bliss noted that brands are finding unique ways to embrace Gen Z’s eagerness to make discussions around mental health less taboo. Bliss noted shared a few examples: while Netflix has conversations with young stars completely focused on mental health, Jansport has made mental health a key discussion point in its marketing strategy for Gen Z consumers.

This article was adapted from a piece originally published on Retail TouchPoints.