Teens taking a selfie

Watch out Millennials … Gen Z is about to take over center stage

I have three kids who aren’t related to me by blood, but I’m known as Aunty Ingrid to them. They were born in 2003, 2010 and 2012. The thing they all have in common? They have never known life without the internet — and they are all Gen Z.

As a Gen X’er myself, with still-vivid memories of having to reserve time in the computer lab to type term papers in college, I find this generation to be one of the most fascinating yet. And I’ll tell you — the stats are showing that they are breaking stereotypes left behind by their elder generation.

Let’s do a little level setting:

  • There are 2 billion of them worldwide, and they represent $800 billion in spending in the U.S. alone.  That makes them large enough that they’ll rival Millennials.
  • They are born between the years of 1997 – 2012.
  • They are entering the workforce right now.

You’d think that since they are the true “digital natives” that they wouldn’t want to actually shop in a brick and mortar store. But you’d be wrong. They like the customer experience of shopping in stores. In fact, they are three times more likely to shop in a store than on line. They like to feel the fabric of clothes they’re buying.  

But while they’re walking through your store, they may be simultaneously engaging with you online. These consumers are all about moving from channel to channel seamlessly. And that means that while they’re in your store, experiencing your brand, they will likely be looking at your web site to see what else you have to offer.

Gen-Z ShoppingThis segment loves co-creation. They want to have their fingers in new product design and they want their voices to be heard. They want to help you design the experience they are after, from the beginning. They want to help you create new, unique products and experiences for your customers. They want to be able to put their mark on things. To show their individuality.

They are also all about value. And the criteria for what defines “value” is evolving. Some members of this segment will be searching for the best deal, coupon, or points system that they can find. Others define value as being willing to pay more if you can prove your products are sustainable. 60 percent of this generation believe that they can make this world a better place. And they want to do business with brands who are also focused on helping to make this world a better place.

Last, but not least, these Gen Z’ers are going to have the highest expectations we’ve seen yet for performance and ease. They will walk away if your page takes any time at all to load. They’ll leave your website if it isn’t easy to navigate. And they’ll do it faster than anyone else.

To serve these Gen Z’ers, you need to ensure that your platforms are responsive. You need to ensure that your tools are super easy to use. We talked about the elegance of simplicity — solutions for both users and you — in an earlier blog post.

More than anything, you’re going to have to make sure that you’re talking to them via social. Because that is where they are. Meet them there and co-create. You’ll only have better outcomes together.